Everyone has a school teacher they’ll never forget. Mine was an 8th grade English lit teacher by the name of Mr. Gambino. He was a frustrated English teacher and failed Shakespearean actor.
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He was sick for a few days.
I’d like to say that we missed Gambino in class but it took about three days for the ringing in our ears from his daily recitations of Shakespeare to stop. It was about as bad as driving a car for a whole day, only to see the white striped lane lines of the road playing out in front of your eyes as you tried to go to sleep for the night.
I know I kept seeing Gambino’s greasy hair flying around, and that crazy black velvety cape he donned in class swirling, and his spittle always leaping from his lips as he stressed his words in the most dramatic manner possible.
It was a like a bad dream. Even weekends weren’t enough to drive him from my consciousness let alone from my unconscious dream states.
So when he was sick for a few days, my mind went into recovery mode. I slowly detoxed from all of his mental imagery; and I returned to a pre-Gambino state of mental health and equilibrium.
But it wasn’t so at home for Gambino. Gambino’s wife taught at our school, and she was virtually the exact opposite of Gambino. She was cute, quiet, mild mannered, and extremely meticulous in her appearance. Apparently, Gambino was pretty sick and so she stayed home a few days, so the story goes, to tend to him.
But the story went just a little further than that. We heard that, as to be expected, that Gambino, the drama king or queen or baby that he was, moaned and wailed the entire time she was home with him. He had a bad case of the flu, but he swore that he was dying from it. His wife soon became pretty fed up with his antics.
After the third day of staying home with him trying to comfort the uncomfortable, which was like trying to heal the undead, she finally had had enough.
In a great mocking tone she tells Gambino that she is going to give him a dose of his own medicine to help him heal… and then proceeds to read to him from “All Well That Ends Well”.
“O, will you eat no grapes, my royal fox?
Yes, but you will my noble grapes, an if
My royal fox could reach them: I have seen a medicine
That’s able to breathe life into a stone,
Quicken a rock, and make you dance canary
With spritely fire and motion; whose simple touch,
Is powerful to araise King Pepin, nay,
To give great Charlemain a pen in’s hand,
And write to her a love-line.
And on she read until she came to these three little lines shortly thereafter:
“…Bring in the admiration; that we with thee
May spend our wonder too, or take off thine
By wondering how thou took’st it.”
And those words “took’st it” were spoken by her in the great Yiddish Vaudeville tradition of “tuchas shit” which made her laugh hysterically, but made Gambino rip the play from her hands, yelling that “I have had enough of your shit!”, and proceeded to recite the rest of the act himself.
She got herself ready to go back to work the next day. He followed her back to school; King “Flu” Gambino getting quickly cured by her portrayal of Helena’s amazing healing “took’st” power.