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December 05, 2022

Dinner With Henry 90: Bug Day

By Bruce Memblatt

Henry smelled the fresh morning air on Delancey Street. Sitting on the stoop of the warehouse after dropping off Winifred at school, he asked himself, Do I really need to go to work today? The answer seemed to be No! He needed a day off! He'd been burning the candle at both ends, and now with the latest crazy shit surrounding his mother and Fransau, and with Maria and Andre always shouting, he needed to get away more than ever.

He needed to get in touch with his inner bug and remember what it felt like to be a carefree insect again!

He needed to hop!

He stood on the stoop and grinned, when suddenly a cat came careening down the steps chasing another cat, nearly knocking him down the stairs.

Henry shook his fists at the cat. He was just about to yell at the feline, when he heard voices shouting through the kitchen window:

"I don't care, Andre I really don't care! You are the chef but I am in charge here just like Simpson was!"

"Listen, Maria, you have not been here very long -- I know what I am doing!"

And Henry's mind was made up, today would be Bug Day.

He hopped down the steps and began to make his way down Delancey Street with a broad grin on his face, and a yen for sugar in his thorax.

Meanwhile, on the stoop of the warehouse, a sparrow pensively sat waiting for an old woman to drop a crumb.

He passed by the Starbucks on the corner and accidently bumped into a boy smoking a cigarette piggybacking on the free Wi-Fi.

"I'm so sorry," Henry said.

The boy puffed on his cigarette, blowing smoke in Henry's face and said, "That's okay, bug breath."

"Don't you know cigarettes are bad for your health?"

"So are bugs, bugs are filthy and disgusting creatures that carry diseases."

"Oh yeah," Henry said, "When is the last time a person got cancer from a bug? Stupid smoke-ingesting human!"

"Fuck you!"

"Fuck you!" Henry said in reply, and then he breezed past the boy, walked into the Starbucks, ordered a caramel macchiato, and pulled out his cell.

"Hello, Diego?"

"Is that a question?" Diego hushed.

"Listen, honey, I just need a day off away from the kitchen; a day to be a bug!"

"But you are only half a bug, Henry."

Henry rolled his eyes, "I'll see you tonight, Diego."

"Okay, Henry, I'll pick up Winifred at school ... unless she is having a bug day too?"

"No, honey, she is having a regular day like you."

"I hope she is not smoking, Henry, because I am dying for a cigarette."

"I didn't mean literally, Diego. I'll see you later," Henry said and then he put his cell back in his pocket, drew the last gooey drops of his macchiato through a straw and he sighed, and said to himself, "What next?"

And there didn't seem to be another answer in his mind; Central Park would be the perfect place to be a bug. All he had to do was hop on the C train and hop off at 81st Street.

Walking down the stairs, entering the subway station, he passed by a woman playing "Beat It" on an accordion. Henry fought his natural inclination to cover his ears, and he smiled at the woman.

The woman stopped playing, looked at Henry and said, "A smile is nice but money is better."

Henry scrunched his nose and said, "As a bug I have to be totally honest, I really hate accordions."

The woman sneered and said, "I do too, but everyone else down here is playing a guitar, a violin or a sax, ya gotta have a gimmick. The accordion is my gimmick."

"Ever think of the flute?" Henry said.

"Flutes are for eggheads! Do I look like an egghead to you, BUG? My father played the flute and he was a terror -- A TERROR!" Her hands shook. "Get away from me, you egghead bug!"

Henry decided never to talk to anyone in the subway again -- ever.

But he wasn't going to let some flute-hating accordionist ruin Bug Day. He scampered down the steps, slid his metro card through the turnstile and hopped onto the subway platform.

Waiting for the train, he watched the rats scuttling along the subway tracks, and he told himself he was glad he wasn't a rat. He just didn't have the energy to run out of the way of subway trains all day. Bugs could take it easy. It wasn't like he was an ant, or a worker bee. He was just a happy carefree bug.

And then Henry realized that's what being a bug was about; having lots of free time to think about life.

Bugs are just like philosophers, or artists, or writers, or ... Henry was telling himself when the C train pulled into the station; being past rush hour by then, there wasn't much of crowd so Henry leisurely hopped into the car, and took a seat.

When the train stopped at 81st Street he just as leisurely hopped off the train and hopped up the stairs. There he saw the trees of Central Park right across the street. He also saw police cars parked all along the street, and wall to wall people in the park.

While he made his way across the street an officer called to him, "Say, where do you think you're going, bug?"

"Into the park, officer."

"Sorry, pal, can't you see it's occupied?"

"By who, sir?"

"Bunch of bums, if you ask me."

It was then that Henry realized that everyone in New York City was crazy. It was just no use; Bug Day wasn't going to happen. He walked back across the street, hopped into a Starbucks, ordered another caramel macchiato and sighed.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-05-13
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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