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April 15, 2024

Dinner With Henry 99: Lesson Number One

By Bruce Memblatt

When Winifred tumbled into the kitchen that afternoon, having just returned from another exhausting, mind-bending day at school where the second grade half-bug students were given trigonometry problems to solve. The school administration somehow had got it into their heads that half-bug children were far more advanced than their human counterparts, and although they did possess an ability to retain more information, at a faster pace, they were not the mental giants the administration assumed, so every day Winifred came home with a splitting headache.

Anyway, when she entered the kitchen that afternoon, she saw Shakespeare at his counter and she rushed over to him. Breathless, she said, "Hello, Uncle Shakespeare, what are you doing?"

Shakespeare scooped some whipped cream from a bowl and snapped, "I am making a strawberry parfait, what do you think I'm doing?"

Winifred pouted and sighed, "I'm sorry, uncle Shakespeare, another rough day at school."

"Eh," Shakespeare said, sticking his whipped cream-coated fingers in his mouth, "why don't you cut a few classes?"

Suddenly Andre swooped down as if from out of nowhere. "MY GOD, WINIFRED, do not listen to a word he says!" Then Andre pulled off his cap and cried at Shakespeare, "What is wrong with you? How do you tell a small child and our Winifred to cut school, have you lost your mind!"

Shakespeare pulled his fingers out of his mouth and snapped, "Oh, put a lid on it, fatso, and she's not going to listen to me, anyway."

Winifred raised her little arms at Andre and said, "Shakespeare is right -- I'm not going to listen to him, anyway, though I should." She tapped her little feet rapidly.

Andre shook his head. "Why should you, little angel?"

"Because they are driving me crazy in school, and every day I come home with a great big headache!"

Shakespeare said, pointing at Andre, wiping more whipped cream from his fingers, "If you listened to her you would know what the school administration is doing; how they decided the half-buggy kids were some sort of geniuses, so they are giving them extra hard work."

Andre shook his head again, "My God, Winifred why didn't you say so! They will give her a trauma!"

Winifred shook her little hands at Andre and she said, "I did say so. I've been saying so every single day, Uncle Andre, but no one listens, not even Mommy, or Daddy."

"Well," Andre said scratching his head, "I hope you can get this thing worked out." And then he turned around and walked over to the stove.

Watching Andre walk away, Winifred sighed and whispered to Shakespeare. "See what I mean?"

Shakespeare put his parfait glass down, scooted over to Winifred, and the both of them being about the same height, he patted her on the shoulder and said, "I'm sorry, little Winifred, maybe I can help you."

Winifred pouted, "You'll just get me in trouble."

"Yeah, I probably will," Shakespeare grinned.

The next morning Winifred met Shakespeare on the stoop outside the warehouse and she took him to class with her.

They traveled several blocks until they arrived at the school, which was not as tall as most of the other buildings in the neighborhood but much wider.

They stepped over leaves.

Shakespeare was intrigued with the sounds of so many small children, but not being familiar with the school building, he was not as coordinated as he usually was.

"Ouch!" Winifred cried. "Shakespeare, this is the fourth time you stepped on my toe!"

"Well, who told you to wear sandals?" Shakespeare snapped, holding onto the wall while a bunch of kids rushed past him and Winifred.

"I like to let my toes breathe," Winifred said grabbing onto Shakespeare's shoulder, standing in the hallway about a foot away from her classroom door.

"Children shouldn't have toes," Shakespeare said taking another step and a deep breath.

"You are lucky they're toes and not tentacles," Winifred sighed, and then she continued, "Okay, here we are, Room 109."

As they walked through the threshold, Shakespeare stumbled over the row of desks that ran parallel to the door. There was a loud knock and a screech. Every child's head in the room turned, and Mrs. Sullivan, Winifred's tall red-headed teacher cried, "Who or what is that, Winifred?"

A look of surprise came to Winifred's eyes and she said, "Why, that is our blind midget." Then she patted Shakespeare on the shoulder and he grimaced.

Mrs. Sullivan, holding a piece of chalk in her hand, pointed at Shakespeare and curtly said, "I'm sorry, blind midgets are not allowed on school grounds."

The classroom gasped, and Shakespeare said, "Oh, yeah?"

Then Winifred quickly intervened; waving her little hands at Mrs. Sullivan, she said, "Um, Mrs. Sullivan I don't think you want to make Shakespeare angry."

Mrs. Sullivan tapped her feet on the floor and said, "I'm sorry, those are the rules."

Then Shakespeare revolved his eyeless skull and said, "Rules, schmulz."

The classroom gasped again, and every head turned toward Mrs. Sullivan in anticipation of her response.

Mrs. Sullivan frowned and said, "Schmulz is not a proper word; in here I insist on proper English."

Shakespeare gritted his teeth and said, "I'm so sorry, how about this: fuck you!" Then he spun around and stuck his rear at the teacher.

Gasps filled the room tenfold, while jaws dropped, though some children began to giggle.

Mrs. Sullivan stood frozen because no one had ever said that word in her classroom before.

Instantly, Winifred grabbed Shakespeare and pulled him out of the classroom, apologizing to Mrs. Sullivan.

As they were leaving the building Shakespeare cried, "Why did you do that? I think we had the old goat."

"Because, Shakespeare, it is futile, it is all futile. They will never let us be normal."

Shakespeare cheered, "Fucking A!"

Winifred tugged on her hair, and she sighed.

Article © Bruce Memblatt. All rights reserved.
Published on 2013-10-07
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
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