Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Good Old Days

Today isn’t a good day for Petunia Goldberg-Greene. It isn’t a good day for the frog, either, although if Petunia had her way the frog would have been a lot happier. If Petunia had her way, the frog would have been alive. But Mr. McBee had his way and, alas, the frog is dead. 

And Petunia is in deep trouble. Although she doesn’t understand why.  She only threatened to do to Mr. McBee what he ordered her to do to the frog. She only threatened to do to him what he in fact got Rodney Potemkin to actually do to the frog. 

It must be said that through all of this, Petunia never blamed Rodney, “a dupe of the bosses,” as she called him, for which she was nearly pummeled, since Rodney mistakenly thought he’d been called a dope. But she was spared by the timely crash of a test tube, flung from across the room by Shalimar Schwartz, who has harbored a deep and abiding love for Petunia since the third grade, his hatred for Rodney going back at least that far. 

The flying test tube missed Rodney by a mile — Shalimar has a heart as big as the Atlantic Ocean but his aim is as crooked as his twice-broken nose and landed smack in the middle of Mr. McBee’s forehead, resulting in much broken glass and a lot of screaming. 

In the ensuing pandemonium the frog could have been set free, if only it hadn’t already been so thoroughly massacred by Rodney’s swiftly-wielded blade. 

Before the end-of-class bell had even rung, Petunia and Rodney and Shalimar and Mr. McBee and a few other concerned citizens were marching into Principal Millback’s office, everyone talking at once, which didn’t trouble Ms. Millback, she being a wee bit deaf, but feeling she should retain an iota of dignity, she blew her police whistle with such gusto that Mr. McBee, who was standing closest to her at the time, actually began to cry. Surprisingly fulsome tears for a man with such a thick neck and broad shoulders. The sight of such misery nearly melted Petunia’ angry little heart, at least enough to make her reach out a hand toward the man, for comfort, which he unfortunately mistook for an attack, and various unpleasant words escaped from his blubbering lips. 

The upshot of the whole affair is this: Mr. McBee resigned on the spot; Rodney Potemkin was expelled for carrying a concealed switchblade in the waistband of his boxer shorts (how Principal Millback had the presence of mind to frisk the young hoodlum has still  not been satisfactorily explained); Petunia was sent home early so she could “contemplate the effects of her excesses,” as it was phrased in the letter Ms. Millback wrote to her parents but which, of course, never made it past the first public trash bin; and Shalimar Schwartz met with an unfortunate mishap at precisely 2:54 p.m. when he was jumped from behind by Jeremy Potemkin, Rodney’s younger brother, and in the resulting skirmish Shalimar’s nose was broken for the third time in his young life, a fact that his mother is still at a loss to explain. 
“Things like this never happened to me when I was their age,” complained Tippy Schwartz over the phone to Miranda Goldberg-Greene, who tut-tutted sympathetically but was prevented from saying more by the unexpected arrival of her husband, Theodore “Toots” Goldberg-Greene, the Traveling Troubadour of Trenton, who showed up at that exact moment after an absence of seven weeks, three days, and 6.5 hours, causing Miranda Goldberg-Greene to drop the telephone as she rushed to embrace the travel-weary, but still devilishly handsome, Toots, and neither of them paid the slightest attention to, nor were they even aware of, the ceaseless whine of Tippy Schwartz as she bemoaned the passing of The Good Old Days.