“Breeeaaaaakkkkkkk-faaaaaaast!!!” Mother’s sweet voice rang throughout the house, and in a little while, Fred and his entire family were seated around the dining room table for a wonderful breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast, fried potatoes and coffee. Fred got the eggs; his brother Mervyn had the toast; Father wolfed down the potatoes; and Mother drank up the coffee (which was decaf, by the way).
“Great breakfast, Mom!” said Fred, when they were all through.
Today was the day Mother was going to take her driver’s license test. Fred got in the back seat and Mother in the driver’s seat of their car. Up the street, they honked and picked up their neighbour, Millie, who had to be in the car, too, because she already had her license, while Mother just had her learner’s permit.
The three of them drove downtown to the Motor Vehicles Bureau. There, Millie got out of the car and went to the waiting room. A grey-uniformed man from the bureau came out, got into the front seat and began telling Mother where to drive.
Everything was going very well—until, just before the end of the test, Mother’s shoe got caught underneath the brake pedal and she ended up rolling right into the fender of the car ahead of her, at a red light!
“Boo-hoo-hoo,” Mother cried and cried, as cars drove around the two stopped ones, after the light had turned green.
The tester looked very embarrassed. “It’s all right, ma’am,” he kept saying. “You can try the test again in two weeks.” But the more he comforted her, the louder she cried. In fact, the entire car was filling up with her tears! The pool was up to the shoulders of Mother and the man! Fred actually got his snorkel out from underneath the seat and began swimming underwater around the back part of the car.
A few minutes later, Mother opened her door so she could get out and check the damage. Unfortunately, all the water from inside the car then poured out the door, and onto a man in a tuxedo, who was walking by on the sidewalk.
The man turned red with fury. “I’m on my way to ze most important audition of my career!” he shouted. As he spoke, the stream of cars going forward suddenly screeched to a halt, mistaking his red face for a traffic light. Somebody smashed into Mother’s car from behind, and Mother started crying again. The tester just shook his head from side to side.
All the drivers who had suddenly stopped were now lined up with bent fenders, shaking their fists at the soaking-wet, red-faced man—all except for the one whose car had hit Mother’s.
“Come on, everybody,” this man cried out. “I’m takin’ ya all out ta eat!”
Everybody made a dash for the restaurant they had all crashed in front of. It was a most unusual restaurant. Its owner collected huge stained-glass windows that he had found in old churches all over the world, and the restaurant was crammed full of them, containing more than almost any church in town. Where else could you get that nice holy feeling, plus a great pizza or meatball sandwich? Plus, the restaurant was so fancy, it had a fountain at the centre of every table, spraying the customers as they dined!
By the time they had finished lunch, everyone was feeling a lot better. “Let’s go shopping!” Mother said. Fred and Mother drove the driving tester back to the bureau and picked up Millie, and the three of them headed straight for the Famous-Barr department store. There, walking among the displays, Fred narrowly missed being eaten by the huge escalator, which he knew was really a giant dragon lying there with its mouth wide open.
Fred didn’t mention the dragon to Mother, as she wouldn’t have believed him. Instead, he said, “This escalator reminds me of the electric shears the barber uses on my neck.”
“Barber!” cried Mother. “You need a haircut!” She grabbed Fred by the back of his white dress shirt and dragged him through the store, all the way up to the third-floor barber shop. “A crew cut!” requested Mother, after Fred had climbed on the back of the big Haircut Elephant the shop used for children’s haircuts.
Fred never understood why his mother always wanted him to have hair that was no longer than the fuzz on his grey flannel pants. Now it was his turn to cry, as the barber approached with his huge, menacing scissors. Fred knew the barber wasn’t going to stick him with the scissors, or, at least, he never had. But just the same, he cried all the way through his haircut, as he did every time.
At last, his hair was all down the back of his shirt, which made him itch terribly and the barber had dusted him with soapy powder, which made him itch even more. That was how he knew the haircut was almost over.
When Fred and Mother got home, Father was just arriving home from work. Father sometimes reminded Fred of the big giant in the story “Jack and the Beanstalk”—the one who said, “Fee, fie, fo, fum!”
The big giant went to take a nap, as he often did after work. In a little while, he was snoring, his belly heaving in and out. Now he reminded Fred of an enormous whale—everything but the water spout!
Fred’s brother, Mervyn, was home from school and in his room, looking at himself in the mirror. That was what he did almost constantly. He only came away from his mirror for meals and sleep, and to go to school, because he was legally required to do that.
Mother had disappeared into the kitchen. After awhile, wonderful food smells began wafting through the house and a little while after that, her sweet voice could again be heard ringing through every room: “Diiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnneeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!”
“Huh?—Huh?” replied Fred’s father, the whale, as he started to get up. When he rose, instead of a whale, he now looked like a big mountain, standing there.
“WAIT A MINUTE!” called Mervyn, and began tearfully saying goodbye to his reflection in the mirror.
The whole family dashed to the dining room table. Mervyn was a little late, since it took him quite a while to pull himself away from that mirror. The four of them sat down to a delicious meal of roast beef, mashed potatoes, peas, homemade biscuits and iced tea.
Fred got the biscuits, Mervyn had the mashed potatoes, their dad ate the roast beef, Mother wolfed down the peas and their French poodle, Emily, drank up all the iced tea.