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September 25, 2023

Dinner With Henry 33: Baby Talk

By Bruce Memblatt

It was an ordinary day on Delancey Street. In the warehouse in her bright nursery, Little Winifred was up making baby sounds. She sat snug in her crib fiercely gurgling and belching, while Henry and Diego ooohed and ahhed, right up to the moment she spat in Henry's face.

Diego giggled." She's so cute when she spits."

Henry giggled. "When she spits at you it's cute."

Diego giggled back, "When she spits at you it's cute, too."

Henry picked up Winifred from her crib and patted her on the back and laughed. "How would you like me to spit at you, Boo Boo?" Yawning, Diego picked up Winifred's blanket from the crib and said,

"Don't call her Boo Boo, Henry."

"Why not?"

"Because it grates on my nerves," Diego breathed.

"That's funny," Henry said. "What else about me grates on your nerves?"

Diego looked toward the ceiling at the little pink sunflowers Henry had painted on the wall. "Well, the way you grit your teeth when you're adjusting your wing is unsettling too, not to mention..."

Winifred began to cry.

Henry pulled her towards his chest and said, "Sorry, Winnie, Mommy and Daddy won't argue anymore."

Diego patted Winfried on the head. "Henry, do not make her promises we can't keep."

Henry pulled on Winifred's leg and said, "Oh she doesn't know what I'm saying, anyway."

"Then why say it? Do you have a peach?"

"I don't think she has enough teeth to eat a peach."

"Not for her for me." Diego winked and then pulled Winifred out of Henry's arms. Henry smiled at Winifred as she made her way onto Diego's breasts.

"This will keep her quiet," Diego said.

"Works for me too," Henry smiled.

"You're so funny, Henry," Diego sighed.

It was then that Andre and Shakespeare entered the nursery.

Andre cried, covering his eyes, "Oh my god! Oh I'm so sorry, Shakespeare, don't look!"

Shakespeare threw his hands in the air. "Um yeah, I'll try not to look, Einstein."

"Oh dear, I am so sorry, Shakespeare! Then I will describe what I was telling you not to look at. Diego's breasts are exposed as she is feeding Winfried at this very moment!"

"Ewwwwwwww." Shakespeare held his nose.

"What do you mean ewwwwwww? Breast feeding is a perfectly natural thing, Shakespeare."

"Yeah, well I think natural is overrated."

Suddenly, Diego stared at Andre and Shakespeare. "You're both so silly," she breathed. "I've had these breasts for years."

Surprised, yet not, Henry looked at Diego cross-eyed. Then quickly trying to divert Diego from the topic of her breasts, he said, "Um, Honey, is she full yet?"

Smiling, Andre walked over to Henry who was standing next to Diego. "Is she full yet? How adorable, Henry. It sounds like she's a car and you are asking the gas station attendant is she full yet."

Shakespeare cringed. "I think I'm gonna be sick."

"Me too," Diego said as she buttoned her shirt and held Winifred up in the air.

An uncomfortable silence hung over the room for a brief moment and then Andre exclaimed, "Why don't we all take her for a stroll in her carriage!"

Diego tickled Winifred and said, "I don't know. She's a little figetty today."

"Ah c'mon, Honey, a little fresh air will do her some good."

"What about Simpson and the big bug?" Shakespeare snapped.

Henry curled his nose and said, "That big bug is my mother."

Andre reached for Henry. "Do not worry about Simpson, he is off today. We can pick up Henry's mother something at the deli. Maybe some nice babka!"

"What is babka?" Diego hushed, setting Winifred down in her crib.

They all gathered around the crib ogling at the baby, except for Diego who was yawning.

Winifred sat up in her crib, and she gurgled and spit. A big glob of spit hit Andre in the eye.

Andre cried, wiping his eye, "Ay! She is a good spitter!"

"That's her bug genes," Shakespeare said. "Wait till she gets older."

"Shakespeare if you don't mind," Henry said, his wing darting up.

"What?" Shakespeare snapped as he pulled on the bars of the crib.

"Never mind," Diego breathed, "I still don't know what babka is."

"It's a cake, Honey." Henry sighed.

When they came downstairs and arrived on Delancey Street, Winifred was still gurgling and spitting in her carriage. It was a partly cloudy day. Diego thought it might rain, while Andre insisted there was not a chance of rain that afternoon. That's when the storm clouds began to form. They ducked under the awning in front of the Delancey Street Fruit Stand.

Henry was beside himself. He said, grabbing on to the handle of Winifred's carriage, "See? See? I told you it was going to rain."

Diego murmured, "No, Henry, I said it was going to rain."

"Well, what do we do now?" Henry said.

"We buy some fruit." Diego turned the carriage into the fruit stand.

"Do we need any fruit?" Shakespeare said as he reached for a plum.

Winifred gazed at all the fruit because it was the first time she had seen such an assortment. She noticed her mother was staring at a pineapple.

"Henry, do you like pineapples?" Diego said, reaching for a pineapple.

"They're okay," Henry said, wondering how many pineapples Diego was about to buy, and he thought about why Winifred was gurgling so much. Do all babies gurgle so much? And spit so far? He knew it had something to do with her bug half, his half. And he didn't know what, but he knew something odd was about to occur. He smiled and picked up a pineapple. "How many are you going to get, Diego?" Henry said.

Andre beamed, reaching for a pineapple. "Oh I could bake a nice pineapple cream pie. Pineapples are such a good fruit -- tangy and tasty and tart and sweet and juicy, but one has to take care when one bites into them. I used to love to make pineapple surprise."

"Yeah, but in your case it wasn't a surprise," Shakespeare snapped. "It was a curiosity."

"Oh shut up and eat a pineapple, Shakespeare!"

"I don't want a pineapple, Chubby," Shakespeare said and he pulled up a pineapple and threw it at Andre.

Andre jumped to avoid the flying pineapple. "You know, Shakespeare, it's about time you learned how to act in public!"

Winifred stared up at Andre and Shakespeare and giggled.

Diego said gazing down at Winifred in her carriage, "She thinks they're funny, Henry. If she only knew."

"I have a feeling she knows." Henry smiled, and Diego laughed, until the second pineapple Shakespeare threw at Andre hit her in the head.

Winifred's eyes zeroed in on her mother's head.

Henry's wing darted up and he shouted at Shakespeare, "Enough you two, both of you, stop it!"

"What do you mean, both of us?" Andre cried, his nose in the air, his lips quivering.

"You heard me!" Henry hollered. "You hit Diego with a pineapple!"

Diego, stunned, walked closer to the pineapples with the intention of grabbing one and throwing it at Shakespeare.

Winifred's eyes intently followed her mother. Winifred noticed the pineapple Diego was reaching for was directly under a pile of apples that were leaning against the metal scale that was hanging above Diego. If her mother pulled that pineapple, the apples would fall and the scale might hit her mother in the head. Winifred cried, "Mom! Mom don't pull on that pineapple!"

Everyone in the store gasped, their heads turned, and they stared at Winifred in shock. Henry stumbled. Shakespeare fell over, and Andre's face froze.

Diego cried, "What did she say?"

The apples fell.

And Henry knew his life would never be the same.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2011-03-14
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