Teaser 206: Another Successful Sports Movie Featuring Mickey Mouse

With me at the rental helm properly blasting away from yet another cretin on L.A.'s notorious roadways when necessary—a Maxima reaching near the top end of motorhead choices—we all arrived, three gorgeous females and a wild-haired, wild-eyed crank of an old fart, at Gloria and Ellen's comfortable abode ready for action. Ellen volunteered as camera person, I assumed the role of director, and it was only a simple matter of convincing the youngest human in attendance to take a walk on the wild side, or if not the wild side, then next to the sofa. There was ample carpeting to dampen the young one's many missteps, but Gretchen managed to take three hurried, wobbly, but daring steps toward the wild-haired, wild-eyed old fart sitting in on the role of encouraging catcher, having delivered the sign to the pitcher with appropriate advice, “Just put her right here, Mama,” and Mama “threw” the youngest right down the middle. “Cut! Wrap! Camera person, did we get that shot?”

“Oh, yes, director. It's in the bag!” Ellen assured us.

“Excellent! Another successful sports movie ready for public viewing after the usual six to nine months of post production. But now! We move straight to the wrap party. Beers for everyone! Or just the director and let's make sure Sofia gets her Shirley Temple.” I lifted Gretchen from the floor and kissed her as she slipped her arms around my neck. I leaned her back after I stood. “You were magnificent, kid, and let me tell ya, most never thought you had it in you, but I always knew you would come through. You're gonna be a star, kid, a star, I tell ya, and now that you can take your own steps, we'll all be watching proudly as you step up to the Walk of Fame and stomp your foot in your own, personal square of wet cement. Be sure to wear your sneakers, though. Don't wear your best shoes.”

Serena sidled up to us with her arms around both, leaned to kiss Gretchen on her cheek as Gretchen lifted her arm to touch Serena's cheek, smiling widely. “You have very good timing, Gregory,” Serena said after she kissed my bearded cheek. “You were here when Gretchen was born. You were here when she took her first steps. You're lucky.”

I focused on Gloria a few feet away but with a smile as big and wide as could be. “Yeah, I'm pretty lucky so far, but Dad's gonna miss quite a few achievements in Gretchen's life and that's the way it is, right, Mama?”

Gloria frowned but kept a steady gaze on my eyes. “You can't live with us, Gregory. This is our home, but Ellen and I would never make you leave L.A. You will always be welcome. You're the one leaving. We're not making you leave.”

I carried Gretchen to her mother, transferred her into the arms waiting for her, and stepped behind Gloria, my eyes watching little Gretchen's eyes watching me playfully. I slipped my arms around Gloria's waist and squeezed her gently. “There's nothing to gain, Mama, by revisiting the past. A lot of children grow up reasonably well-adjusted without a father in their lives regularly, but Gretchen has one advantage. She has Ellen for a surrogate father and all she needs to stay reasonably well-adjusted is to be served a regular helping of love and concern and consideration, and she'll receive it aplenty, and on occasion a grumpy, old fart of a man will drop in and provide a little extra attention. She'll do all right. She'll grow to understand. And if I can still get around I'll be there when she flips her tassel upon graduation.” I leaned my head over Gloria's shoulder to Gretchen, who leaned toward me and kissed my lips. I kissed Gloria's neck and she instinctively pulled up her shoulder. “By the way, I've got the graduation date on my calendar, Mama.”

Gloria and Ellen had supper planned but there was preparation necessary for the salad, putting together the crab cakes and the mashed potato pancakes (my suggestion), so all the women stepped into the kitchen to get to work. In the living room Sofia stayed with me to watch and play with Gretchen, and most of the time I laid on the floor and let our little girl crawl over me, and pull my beard, or slap hands, or when she wandered off too far, I'd get up and sweep her off the floor to her squeals of contentment or disapproval because Gretchen was after something I didn't want her to have, yet. Remember, there's only one of us in this living room outfit who's an adult and it wasn't Gretchen or Sofia, whom I'd sweep, too, when it struck my fancy. Once, Gretchen and I played “Mexican standoff,” both of us on our hands and knees waiting out the other. That's when I sprang it. I did my best Mickey Mouse impersonation, which is dead-on by the way, and I greeted the youngest with, “Hi, boys and girls, it's your ooooooooooooold pal, Mickey Mouse!”

Sofia yelled, “Mama! Gregory can talk like Mickey Mouse!”

“What?” Serena shouted, laughing as she emerged from the kitchen followed by the other three women, all smiles. “You can't do Mickey Mouse, old man. It's a copyright violation.” She flashed her mock stern expression.

From Mickey land, I replied, “No, m'am! It's only a parody! That's still allowed!”

Gloria smiled. “Where did that come from, Gregory? If you could do it all along, why haven't we heard it before?”

“Aw, shucks,” Mickey replied. “I only come out and play for the little boys and girls. They appreciate me!” Back to Gregory. “And their parents shell out billions when I do, so I can add to Walt's smothering empire.”

“Which reminds me, Gregory,” Ellen contended, “when you did your Pluto imitation, it wasn't Pluto. That was Goofy. You messed up, old man.” All the women laughed and Gretchen was looking around in complete bafflement.

I sat up on my knees as Gretchen crawled to me and I helped stand her up on her feet and held her steady. “Here's the amazing thing about it, Ellen. Hardly anyone tells me, except little kids, and what I say in reply is, 'Well, there's a little known secret with all those shoots when Pluto was on the set. When there was a break in shooting, Pluto would often do his impersonation of Goofy and have all the animators cracking up, so what I did in my performance was my impersonation of Pluto's impersonation of Goofy.”

Serena laughed. “Admit it, old man. You screwed up and got caught!”

Mickey looked at Gretchen staring into his face. “Oh, Gretchen. They're making fun of Mickey Mouse.” Gretchen smiled and put her hands on either side of my face, holding it through my beard.

Sofia was captivated. “You have to do Mickey back home while we're watching his cartoons, Papi! I want to hear you do Mickey while he's talking.”

“Looks like you'll be watching Mickey Mouse cartoons when you get home, old man,” Serena advised.

“At least I won't be standing in a line for hours, greeting people when we slowly meander to the next row, 'I've seen you before! What year was that? 1969? We missed the astronauts on the moon. Will this line ever end?'”

“We should go to Disneyland some time,” Ellen suggested.

“Count me out! Sorry. I'll be dead from natural causes before we return to the parking lot, those natural causes being blood flow constriction from standing in line forever.”

“I want to go to Disneyland!” Sofia shouted.

“I'll call Goofy. He's probably available. He loves standing in line doing nothing.”

Gloria, Ellen and Carla returned to the kitchen but Serena crossed her arms and smiled. “That is a pretty good Mickey Mouse, Gregory. You've probably done it for years, haven't you?”

I looked to her and returned her smile as I helped Gretchen to her hands and knees to crawl toward Sofia. I sat on my rear, my gaze fixed on Serena. “I started doing it with my first when she was a little baby, maybe weeks old. Kept it up with the second and they both would stop and look at me with a sense of wonder, fascination. Sometimes they clapped. It got their attention.”

- Just Desserts, Segment Twenty-SixAn African Experiment Begins” by Gregory R. Schussele, © 2021

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