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May 20, 2024

Dinner With Henry 87: She's Got Them First Day of School Blues

By Bruce Memblatt

A sparrow sang on the windowsill.

Winifred burst through the kitchen door, her eyes squinted to block out the afternoon glare. Seeing Andre and Shakespeare standing by the stove arguing as usual, she watched Andre turn his head towards her as she neared them.

She smiled at Andre when he said, "Hello, Winifred how was your first day of school? I can remember my first day of school like it was yesterday. Ah, such memories, Mrs. Givanne, with the big hook nose, I recall she taught us a song."

"Please, don't sing it now, "Shakespeare snapped.

Andre's nose tilted, "Why not, Shakespeare?"

"Because every moment is not your moment, this moment is Winifred's moment."

"Well, you have really put me in my place, haven't you?" Andre said, smirking like a poodle.

Shakespeare cleared his throat, and repeated, "Winifred's moment."

"That's okay," Winifred said and she grinned, standing by the stove, her wing fluttering, purposely ignoring the new purple pin on her chest she'd gotten at school, because she wanted someone to notice it first, and point it out to her, then she would coyly smile and say, What pin?

And they'd say, "Why, that beautiful new pin you are wearing so elegantly." Which Andre did.

"Thank you, Uncle Andre, why that old thing? I got it at school today. All the half-bug kids get them!"

Andre's smile suddenly vanished and he said, "Oh. I see. It is lovely. Wear it well." Then he quickly returned to the stove and stirred the cream sauce he'd been preparing. He whispered to Shakespeare, "Did you hear that? Wait until Diego gets a load of that."

Immediately, Shakespeare scampered over to Winifred's side and said, "I wish I could see it. It must be beautiful."

"I wish you could see it too, Shakespeare," Winifred said, patting Shakespeare on the head. "And guess what my teacher's name is?"

"What?" Shakespeare smiled.

"It's Andre!" Winifred grinned.

Then Shakespeare turned and pointed towards Andre, still at the stove and said," Did you hear that?"

"Indeed, I did," Andre said, stirring the sauce much quicker than he usually did. Nervously eyeing the clock, he looked at Winifred and said, "So what time will your mother be back from the beauty parlor?" And finally, unable to contain himself he screeched, "and WHAT ABOUT THAT PIN!"

Shakespeare dropped the parfait glass he'd been holding in his hand. It crashed across the linoleum. He ran over to Andre and kicked him in the knee, and snapped, "Like I said before, this isn't your moment!"

Andre shrugged, "Um, who told the blind midget he was in charge of the kitchen today?"

Then seemingly completely out of character, yet in character and in the moment Winifred screamed, "WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY PIN? IT IS THE FIRST THING I EVER GOT FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD. YOU PEOPLE HAVE TO DESTROY IT, LIKE YOU DESTROY EVERYTHING!"

Andre's pot crashed from the stove, and he stood and stared at Winifred with his mouth open.

Shakespeare nearly toppled over, and then Andre said, "My God, Winifred, we have never seen you like this."

Winifred scrunched her face and said, stamping her little foot on the floor, "Because I am not like this, it is you people who make me like this."

Andre bowed his head and said, picking up the pot from the tiles, "I'm so sorry, Winifred, if it wasn't for Shakespeare things would be a lot calmer around here."

"Me? You mean you, you big bag of broccoli!"

"Broccoli?" Andre said and then he scratched his head and stared at Shakespeare.

Shakespeare's little body shook and he cried, "You get me so crazy I don't know what I'm saying anymore."

Andre pointed at Shakespeare "Oh please, you leetle toad, you have been crazy since the first day you set foot in here. I remember it like it was yesterday; you walked in and you passed out on the floor and said Where is the concierge?"

"I was drunk I thought it was the motel."

"What motel?"

"Bates, never mind." Shakespeare sneered and he crossed his arms.

Andre waved his hand in the air. "You see what I mean, Winnie? It is him, he is such a handful. Ha I'm so funny, in fact, that is all he is is a handful." Andre slapped his knee and laughed.

Winifred cringed.

"Very funny, Andre you are just so funny, I can't stand it. And this really is the heart of the matter; you can't stop making fun of my size, talking about my size, singing about my size, making jokes about my size. I think this is something we should look into further."

"Unfortunately we can't look further, because you are too small." Andre slapped his knee and laughed again.

Then Shakespeare rushed Andre and kicked him in the knee.


Winifred began to cry.

"Now see what you've done!" Andre cried grabbing the pot from the stove top and aiming it at Shakespeare.

"What I have done?" Shakespeare snapped, "You mean what you have done with your twelve foot ego!" He shook his fists at Andre.

"Even my ego is bigger than you."

"Your ego is bigger than everyone!"


Andre ran to Winifred's side, wrapped his arms around her and said, "I am so sorry, Winifred."

Then Shakespeare joined them, "Me too, Winnie!"

Winifrid sobbed out, "It is okay, my two big men." Then she grinned, patting Shakespeare on the head. "It's my fault too. I know what this pin signifies, and I know why they gave me the pin. They want to keep an eye on all the half-bugs, because we are different. I am no fool. I was just in so much denial. I just wanted things to be okay, but I am afraid too."

"Don't worry, Winifred, they will be," Andre said, and then he wiped his eyes.

Then Winifred pulled the pin from her blouse, handed it to Andre and said, "Please, keep this somewhere I can find it each morning, I don't want my mother to see it."

"Okay, my little babushka," Andre said, crying uncontrollably, and at that point, they all turned their heads to see Diego standing above them.

"Just what is going on here?" Diego said, and she sighed.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-03-18
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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