I’ve been getting a lot of slack lately from Mr. V about staying the night at that woman’s house next door. But he doesn’t understand that it’s much easier to watch TV there. At Mr. Vs place there are too many things in the way: the railing, the bottle with the boat in it, the bottles without boats in them, maps, and lots of globes. There’s so much stuff you can hardly see the TV.
So to get a better view, I have to balance on the handrail which can be very tricky. There are stairs on the other side of the railing going down to the kitchen and I’ve come really close to falling down them more than once. Oh, I know they say that cats always land on their feet, but I’m here to tell you – they don’t. And when they do, it’s hard on the paws! So I prefer to watch TV at the woman’s place. You can lounge on the couch, or if you want to get really close to the TV, you can sit on the bookshelf. It’s easy peasy.
I, too, was recently involved in a balancing act, and although I didn’t fall down a flight of stairs, I was pitched head first into a vat of humiliation. Yesterday, as we were about to eat lunch at Globe and Maps Inc., Ms. Snickety unwrapped a piece of sandwich paper (on which Ms. Snickety was clearly written), took out half a sandwich, and held it up in front of us.
What do you see? She asked, her lips compressed into one thin line of rage. A bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich on whole wheat bread, Ms. Gupta shrugged. I see some mayonnaise, Mr. Chang added. And what else! Ms. Snickety yelled. It was so unusual for Ms. Snickety to yell that we were all stunned into silence.
Someone’s taken a bite out of it? Mr. Karl volunteered. Yes! Someone has, Ms. Snickety replied. And it wasn’t me! No one is going to leave this room until I find out who it was. There was a long silence. I’m waiting, Ms. Snickety said, for the culprit to own up. We looked at one another accusingly but still no one came forward. Very well, said Ms. Snickety, I want everyone to take a bite out of the other half of the sandwich so that I can compare the teeth marks. Who’ll go first?
I will! Mr. Chang volunteered. I haven’t eaten this morning. Just a small bite Mr. Chang, Ms. Snickety warned, it’s not your lunch. Mr. Chang took a bite. It’s good, he said. The tomato is really fresh. Where did you get it? Ms. Snickety ignored him and examined the sandwich. The original teeth marks were small, but Mr. Chang’s teeth are like piano keys so the marks were very different. Ms. Graben and then Ms. Gupta each took a bite and it was quickly determined that they were not the culprits either.
The reminder of the sandwich was passed to Mr. Karl who accidentally squeezed it so hard that some lettuce and one slice of tomato fell onto the floor. I hate tomatoes anyway, he grumbled. But they’re good for you! Mr. Chang exclaimed. They’ve got vitamin C and A and E and they protect you against prostate cancer. Someone your age should be eating tomatoes all the — Thank you! Mr. Chang, Mr. Karl snarled. He took a quick bite and gave the now limp piece of bread and lettuce back to Ms. Snickety. The teeth marks were not his.
Your turn, Mr. Vinégar, said Ms. Snickety. I’d rather not, I replied. Everyone looked at me aghast. And why not? Ms. Snickety asked. I’d rather not say, I said. Immediately a space opened up around me as if it had suddenly been discovered that I was a murderer. I think you’d better say, Mr. Karl said. This is a very serious offense. If we can’t trust one another — Oh, very well! I said, and with great embarrassment I reached into my mouth and removed my bottom partial.
Ewwwww! Ms. Graben squealed. I can’t eat bread with my partial in, I explained. But anything to help… I held the partial over the sandwich so we could compare the teeth marks. It’s the same! Ms. Graben shrieked! No, it isn’t! I said. But there’s a gap between the teeth on the right hand side, she insisted. And that’s where the gap is in your mouth. No, it isn’t. It’s on the other side. But you could have eaten it on the other side, Mr. Chang said. And moved my teeth around? I asked incredulously. Don’t be ridiculous. Well, who could have done it? Ms. Snickety said.
Have you compared it to your own teeth? Mr. Chang asked. Are you suggesting, Ms. Snickety glared, that I took a bite out of my own sandwich and then forgot that I…her face colored and her glasses fogged up. She looked down at the table. After a slight pause she whispered, I’m so sorry. I completely forgot. I was hungry – It doesn’t matter, Mr. Karl said, laying a comforting hand on her shoulder. Let me buy you lunch. She leaned against him ever so slightly. Ms. Graben and Ms. Gupta rolled their eyes. We left the conference room.
Oh no! I said, in the hallway. Everyone stopped. What is it? My…teeth, I muttered. They’re probably in the trash can, said Mr. Chang. I dumped the rest of the sandwich in there. I’ll help you — No thank you, I said and hurried back inside the conference room. My partial was in the garbage can with the remaining bread, two leaves of lettuce, and several slices of soggy tomato.
I washed the partial under hot water for several minutes before putting it back in my mouth. It had been such a distressing experience that despite being famished I didn’t eat anything for the rest of the day.