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kaplan 20 - feh

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  • Dan Eggleston
    (4) MR. K*A*P*L*A*N AND THE UNFORGIVABLE FEH! (20) Fata viam invenient, Mr. Parkhill thought as he called the beginner s grade to order. Fate will find a
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 4, 2000
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      (4) MR. K*A*P*L*A*N AND THE UNFORGIVABLE "FEH!" (20)

      "Fata viam invenient," Mr. Parkhill thought as he called the beginner's
      grade to order. "Fate will find a way." Vergil - that was who had said
      it. It was a consoling thought; and for some reason Mr. Parkhill found
      himself clinging to it as he called the roll. "Mr. Kesselman?"
      "Mrs. Rodriguez?"
      "Mr. Scymzak?"
      "Mr. Kaplan?"
      There was no answer.
      "Mr. Kaplan?" repeated Mr. Parkhill, looking directly at Hyman Kaplan,
      who was in his usual seat, right in front of Mr. Parkhill, in the exact
      center of the front row.
      Still no answer.
      Mr. Parkhill frowned. "Mr. KAPlan," he called firmly, forcing Mr.
      Kaplan's gaze to meet his own. Forced? No; Mr. Kaplan's eyes had been
      waiting for Mr. Parkhill's all the time. Once he was sure that Mr.
      Parkhill was observing his every movement, Mr. Kaplan narrowed his eyes
      in the manner of a stern judge about to pass sentence on a particularly
      reprehensible criminal, turned his bead to his right deliberately, fixed
      the student at the far end of the front row with a withering glare, and,
      in a voice freighted with warning, intoned, "Hymie Keplen is in place."
      Mr. Parkhill adjusted his spectacles uneasily. "Miss Goldberg . . ." Mr.
      Parkhill did not like the look of things; he did not like the look of
      things at all. And from the buzzings and hissings and glances that sped
      across the room he knew that the class, too, had read the dire meaning
      of Mr. Kaplan's pantomime. That narrowing of the eyes, that lethal
      stare, that doomsday tone - to any who knew Mr. Kaplan these signified
      but one thing: Hyman Kaplan had issued that formal caveat which precedes
      a declaration of war. There could be no doubt about it. Whenever Mr.
      Kaplan bestowed so malevolent a glare on a colleague, it was for only
      one reason: his honor had been slurred, and demanded satisfaction in
      But who was the student at the far end of the front row? He was one
      Fischel Pfeiffer. He bad been admitted, originally, to Miss Higby's
      class, but after the very first recess Miss Higby had escorted Mr.
      Pfeiffer into Mr. Parkhill's room, where, with excessive casualness, she
      bad informed Mr. Parkhill that although Fischel Pfeiffer was a most rare
      and conscientious pupil, a scholar of undeniable promise, he was "not
      quite ready" for the heady heights of Composition, Grammar, and Civics.
      In Miss Higby's considered opinion, Mr. Pfeiffer needed basic "drill,
      drill, drill" where certain fundamentals of the tongue were involved.
      During the whole of Miss Higby's recitation, Mr. Pfeiffer had remained
      standing, silent, baleful, his lips pressed tight, his face all gloom.
      None but the blind could have misread his mood: Mr. Pfeiffer was
      mortified by demotion. He was a thin, dapper man with rimless glasses, a
      polka-dot bow tie, and a cream-colored suit the sleeves of which were as
      sharp as knives.
      "We're glad to have you with us," Mr. Parkhill remembered remarking in a
      reassuring manner. (At least it reassured Mr. Parkhill; it made no dent
      on Mr. Pfeiffer's conspicuous discontent.) "Class, this is Mr. Pfeiffer,
      Mr. ? er - Fischel Pfeiffer. Won't you take a seat, please?"
      Mr. Pfeiffer lifted his eyes just high enough to survey the reaches of
      the Siberia to which he had been exiled.
      "There is a place in the front row," said Mr. Parkhill.
      Without a word, in his own miasma of humiliation, Mr. Pfeiffer started
      toward the empty chair at the far end of the front row. It was at that
      moment that Mr. Parkhill had felt a premonitory twinge. For in order to
      get to the seat at the end of the front row, Mr. Pfeiffer had to pass
      directly in front of Mr. Kaplan. And Mr. Kaplan, by leaning forward
      generously had managed to follow the entire colloquy between Miss Higby
      and Mr. Parkhill with the most avid fascination....
      As Mr. Pfeiffer crossed in front of Mr. Kaplan, that self appointed
      protector of the weak and the homeless had sung out, "Valcome, Fischel
      Pfeiffer! Valcome to beginnis' grate!"
      Mr. Pfeiffer had paused, eyed his unsolicited cicerone, and uttered a
      monosyllabic sound the mere recollection of which still made Mr.
      Parkhill's forehead damp: "Feh!" That was all he had said: "Feh"
      Now "Feh!" was an expletive Mr. Parkhill had heard before - but in the
      CORRIDORS of the building where English was taught and braved, never
      inside a classroom. The expression had, in fact, rather interested him:
      it was a striking example of onomatopoeia. just as "moo" or "quack" or
      "coo" conveyed their meaning with supreme accuracy, so "feh!," however
      inelegant, was a vivid vehicle for the utterance of disdain.
      "Feh!" The class had caught its collective breath; then all eyes turned
      from Fischel Pfeiffer to Hyman Kaplan, a man of the most delicate
      His jaw had dropped; his cheeks had reddened in disbelief. "Feh?" Mr,
      Kaplan echoed dazedly. "FEH? For de CLESS?!"
      "Our exercise tonight is Open Questions," Mr. Parkhill had announced
      quickly. Long, hard experience in the beginners' grade had taught him
      how to apprehend the first faint alarum of discord, and how to canalize
      aggression by diverting attention. "The floor is open, class. Any
      questions at all, any problems you may have encountered in reading,
      writing, conversation. Who will begin?"
      Up rose the hand of Sam Pinsky.
      "Mr. Pinsky," said Parkhill lightly.
      "I ebsolutely agree with Mr. Keplen!" proclaimed Mr. Pinsky stoutly. "A
      student shouldh't make 'Feh!' for-"
      "THAT," said Mr. Parkhill crossly, "is not a question. Mr. Matsoukas."
      Gus Matsoukas emitted his immemorial growl, consulted a dog-eared
      envelope, and asked his question. "Which is for describing furniture:
      'baboon' or 'BAMboon'?"
      "Mr. Matsoukas," said Mr. Parkhill, knitting his brow, "a baboon is an
      animal, an ape, whereas bamBOO, not 'bamBOON,' is a ? er - wood." Mr.
      Parkhill explained the difference between the anthropoid and the
      ligneous in patient detail. (Mr. Matsoukas, who customarily referred to
      his dentifrice as "toot ponder," had much to learn.) "Miss Shimmelfarb?"

      "'Mail' in 'mailbox,' where you putting letters. Is this a masculine?"
      asked Miss Shimmelfarb.
      "N-no," said Mr. Parkhill, and described the difference between the
      postal and the human. "Mrs. Rodriguez."
      "Why 'scissors' have c and s but no two zs?" asked Mrs. Rodriguez. "I
      HEAR 'z's!" (That dreadful word "scissors," Mr. Parkhill reflected
      ruefully, must have plagued every teacher of every course in English
      ever offered in any land or time.)
      "I'm afraid 'scissors' is just spelled that way," said Mr. Parkhill with
      genuine regret.
      The students entered into Open Questions with zest. 'They loved Open
      Questions. It offered them freedom, amplitude, respite from the
      constricting ruts of instruction.
      "What is the League of Women Motors?" Hans Guttman, a man devoted to
      learning, asked.
      "Who is Hannahlulu?" chirped Mrs. Tomasic.
      "What kind candy is 'valley fudge'?" Mrs. Yanoff inquired.
      Mr. Parkhill had worked his way deftly through all these linguistic
      snares and swamps. He, too, enjoyed Open Questions - its challenge, its
      unpredictability; yet that night he remembered, he had been unable to
      shake off a sense of foreboding. For in the caverns below consciousness,
      the flatulent memory of "Fehl" still echoed. It was difficult enough to
      preserve decorum in a class torn by fierce vendettas, a class that
      included such antithetical types as Hyman Kaplan and Reuben Plonsky, or
      Mr. Kaplan and Carmen Caravello, or Mr. Kaplan and Miss Mitnick. To add
      to this scholastic powder keg so incendiary a type as Fischel Pfeiffer,
      a man foolhardy enough to give the affront direct to Hyman Kaplan - Mr.
      Parkhill had felt a surge of outright displeasure with Miss Higby.
      But all that was behind him now, Mr. Parkhill reminded himself. This was
      two nights later. The roll had been called, the decks cleared for
      action. There was work to be done. Mr. Parkhill put his attendance sheet
      to one side, cleared his throat pretended he had not noticed the mordant
      pantomime Mr. Kaplan had addressed to Mr. Pfeiffer, and announced, "I
      have corrected the compositions you handed in last Thursday, class, and
      one thing that stands out in my mind is the number of ? er -DANGLING
      PARTICIPLES." He paused for the briefest moment to let this sink in. I
      shall read some compositions without identifying the authors, of course.
      Let's see how many of us recognize the errors. . . ."
      He launched his apprentices on a brisk quest for dangling participles
      which did not end until the bell rang for recess. And in all that time,
      Mr. Parkhill noticed with mounting uneasiness, Mr. Kaplan said nothing,
      and Fischel Pfeiffer sat wordless, stony and withdrawn.

      After the recess, Mr. Parkhill announced, "Now, class, suppose we have a
      little exercise on - vocabulary."
      "Vary useful," declared Mr. Plonsky, whose renown as a jobber had made
      him the leading anti-Platonist of the beginners' grade.
      "I like," said Mr. Studniczka.
      "Oooh," breathed Olga Tarnova from her reservoir of unutterable griefs.
      "Pencils and papers, please. Everyone."
      The room rustled like aspens under a high wind. Thirty-odd scholars
      opened brief cases, handbags, portfolios, shopping bags.
      "I shall write five words on the blackboard," Mr. Parkhill said, picking
      up a piece of chalk. "Use each word in a sentence, a ? er - full
      sentence, that is. Five words, therefore five sentences." He smiled.
      There was no harm in leavening the bread of learning with the yeast of
      levity. "Write your sentences carefully, class. Remember, I shall grade
      not just your spelling, but entire sentences - diction, syntax,
      punctuation. . . ."
      "Oy," moaned Mrs. Moskowitz, fanning herself with her notebook. It was
      arduous enough for Mrs. Moskowitz to spell one word right; to spell five
      words correctly, and put them into five whole sentences in which all the
      OTHER words had to be spelled right, AND selected properly, AND fitted
      into the terrifying architecture of syntax - that, for Mrs. Moskowitz,
      was piling new Ossas upon already overburdened Pelions.
      Mr. Parkhill gave Mrs. Moskowitz a therapeutic smile and turned to the
      blackboard. In large block letters, he printed:

      1. CHISEL
      2. LAMP
      3. GROAN
      4. POTATOES
      5. CLIMAX

      "0y!" came from the unnerved depths of Mrs. Moskowitz once more.
      "Moskovitz," called Mr. Kaplan, "you doink a lasson or givink a
      "You have five minutes," said Mr. Parkhill quickly, wiping the chalk
      dust off his fingers. He moved down the aisle, nodding encouragement to
      a student here, alleviating anxiety in a student there, stiffening the
      morale of the faint of heart.
      How pregnant the moment before commitment always was. The eyes of his
      neophytes were racing across the five words on the board, appraising
      them like frontiersmen in a trackless forest, alert to the dangers that
      might skulk behind the most innocent facade, on guard against linguistic
      ambushes, reconnoitering "chisel" warily, taking the measure of "lamp"
      in stride, hurdling the limpid "groan" to reach the obvious "potatoes,"
      resting at last on the word Mr. Parkhill, with his unerring sense of the
      appropriate, had chosen to close the maze - "climax."
      "I'm sure you all know the meaning of these words," said Mr. Parkhill.
      "I'm not," wailed Mrs. Moskowitz.
      "Come, come now, Mrs. Moskowitz. Try."
      Mrs. Moskowitz heaved into the unknown.
      Miss Mitnick bent her head over her notebook, the bun of her hair like a
      doughnut on the nape of her slender neck, and began to write with sedate
      dispatch. Mr. Plonsky unbuttoned his vest, cleaned his bifocals,
      uncapped his ball-point pen, shook it from the habit of years of uphill
      struggle with sterile fountain pens, and inscribed his first sentence on
      a letterhead of Statue of Liberty Remnants, Inc. And Mr. Kaplan, ever
      undaunted, cocked his bead to one side, repeated each word aloud in a
      clear, approving whisper, adding an admiring "My!" or "Tchki" of homage
      to Mr. Parkhill's incomparable gifts as a teacher, exclaimed "Fife fine
      voids!" and shot Fischel Pfeiffer a glower designed to remind him of the
      riches the beginners' grade had always spread before the worthy.
      Mr. Pfeiffer saw it not. After one deprecatory glance at the blackboard,
      the thin-lipped malcontent had set to work with absolute decision and
      startling speed. Before most of the students had even cleared the
      troubling reefs of "chisel," Fischel Pfeiffer slapped his pencil down
      and announced, with contempt, "Done!"
      The appearance of an archangel would have caused no greater
      "So FEST?"
      Heads were shooting up all around the room in wonderment
      "What we have here, a GINIUS?" asked Miss Goldberg, and consoled herself
      with a piece of chocolate.
      "A ragular spid dimon?" Mr. Kesselman queried.
      "Pfeiffer expacts to graduate before midnight!" said Mr. Pinsky acidly,
      glancing toward his captain for approbation. Mr. Kaplan looked as if he
      had seen Beelzebub.
      Before the sensation created by Mr. Pfeiffer's velocity had even spent
      its force, that fleet paragon stepped to the blackboard, seized a stick
      of chalk, and began to transcribe his sentences with careless disdain.
      "We generally WAIT to go to the board until—" Mr. Parkhill's voice
      trailed off.
      Words were flowing from the end of Mr. Pfeiffer's chalk as if it were a
      magic wand.
      In the congregation of watchers, all work ceased. The class sat
      transfixed. Then a chorus of "Oh!"s and "Ah!"s and "Fentestic!"s cleaved
      the air.
      For on that plain, black board, in most beautiful script, a script both
      sumptuous and majestic, Fischel Pfeiffer had written:

      1. In Chicago, pride Lake Michigan, many shops sell Mexocan jewelry made
      by small, sharp CHISELS.

      A new hymn of admiration ascended from the seated - not only for the
      exquisite calligraphy, which would have done credit to a Persian, but
      for the mettle of a man intrepid enough to tackle as recondite a word as
      "Michigan," as exotic a name as "Mexocan."
      "Dis man writes like an artiss!" cried Oscar Trabish.
      "Like an arteest? Nol He is an arteest!" flamed Miss Tarnova. Then she
      throbbed, "THIS MON HAS SOFFERT! THIS MON HAS SOUL!" (Olga Tarnova, who
      considered herself a reincarnation of Anna Karenina, believed that all
      humanity could be divided into two categories: those with and those
      without "soul.")
      A burst of glee issued from Mr. Blattberg. "Kaplen, you watching?"
      "Pfeiffer makes you look like a greenhornl" jeered Reuben Plonsky,
      searching for his nemesis through his bifocals.
      White, crestfallen, Mr. Kaplan said nothing. He was staring at the
      board abject, incredulous - where Mr. Pfeiffer was finishing his second
      grand sentence:

      2. In Arabean Nights, famous story, is Alladin's wonderful LAMP.

      Now the "Oh!"s and "Ah!"s fell like a shower, garnished by a lone,
      reverential "Supoib!"
      "MAMMA MIA," gasped Carmen Caravello.
      "Pfeiffer, congradulation!" chortled Mr. Plonsky.
      "Mr. Kaplan, what you see?" grinned Stanislaus Wilkomirski.
      "Pfeiffer, you raddy for college!" cried Shura Gursky, carried away.
      Mr. Parkhill tapped the desk with his pointer. "Now, now, class. Order.
      But he was, in truth, as fascinated as his flock. And why not? The years
      in the beginners' grade had taught him to expect, for a sentence using
      "chisel," say, "I have a chisel," or "Give me chisels," or even "I like
      For a word like "lamp," Mr. Parkhill had long since become conditioned
      to sentences such as "Take the lamp," or 'Who stole this lamp?" Into
      such a pedestrian world had come a Hector, a man who dared write
      "Arabean Nights" when the harmless "old book" would have sufficed; who
      did not flinch before Aladdin, where the timorous would surely have
      written "boy;" who even had the audacity to use an appositive ("famous
      story") he could have sidestepped entirely. It was indeed "supoib."
      And while the murmurs of tribute were still rolling down the ranks, Mr.
      Pfeiffer transferred his three remaining sentences to the board with a
      celerity that was to become a legend in the American Night Preparatory
      School for Adults:

      3. Life is not only suffring and GROANS.
      4. No one finds diamonds in POTATOES.
      5. What is Man? A bird? A beest? No! A CLIMAX.

      To a symphony of praise as fulsome as any Mr. Parkhill had ever heard in
      a classroom, Mr. Pfeiffer turned from the board, stifled a yawn, and
      returned to his seat.
      "Oh, Mr. Pfeiffer," sighed Miss Mitnick.
      "Wohnderful," crooned Olga Tarnova. "KHOROSCHO for arteest!"
      "Keplan," mocked Mr. Plonsky, "you have nothing to say? Not a single
      Not only had Mr. Kaplan nothing to say, he seemed to be in a state of
      shock. And Mr. Parkhill felt vaguely sorry for him. True, a man with so
      reckless a confidence, so luxuriant an ego, might well be exposed to
      occasional reverses; still, Hyman Kaplan had a certain flair, a panache
      not often seen among the earthbound.
      "Time is slipping away, class," said Mr. Parkhill. "We are not - er -
      finishing our assignments."
      They sighed and stirred and resumed their labors, and soon Mr. Parkhill
      sent a contingent of six to the board. They copied their sentences
      soberly, dutifully, but the heart seemed to have gone out of them. They
      wrote without that spirited counterpoint of comment or soliloquy which
      usually enlivened performances at the blackboard. For over all their
      heads, like an unscalable summit, shone the glittering handiwork of
      Fischel Pfeiffer.
      How feeble, by comparison, seemed Mr. Marschak's "Actors give big
      GROANS," how lackluster Miss Gidwitz's "By me are old LAMPS the best"
      how jejune even Mr. Scymzak's brave foray into aesthetics: "Any piece
      Hungarian music has glorious CLIMAX." With apologetic gestures and
      self-deprecating shrugs, the listless six shuffled back to their places.

      "Good!" said Mr. Parkhill brightly. "Discussion ... Miss Ziev, will you
      read your sentences first?"
      Miss Ziev, who had been quite vivacious since her engagement to a Mr.
      Andrassy in Mr. Krout's class, read her sentences sans esprit - and the
      discussion thereof died stillborn. Not a spark of life was struck by
      even Miss Ziev's "The boy has certainly GROAN lately."
      Mr. Marschak followed Miss Ziev, and the discussion was as spiritless as
      the utterances of a stricken child. No outburst of "Mistake!" or "Hoo
      ha!" greeted Mr. Marschak's 'He eats fright POTATOES."
      Mrs. Rodriguez followed Mr. Marschak, and once again Mr. Parkhill,
      unable to put heart into his charges, had to carry the entire discussion
      by himself - even unto Mrs. Rodriguez's defiant "Puerto Rico has nice,
      hot CLIMAX!"
      "Miss Gidwitz, please."
      There was but desultory response to Miss Gidwitz's "Mary had a little
      An equally pallid reception greeted even Mr. Pinsky's unprecedented use
      of the word "chisel." (Mr. Pinsky, who seemed to consider "chisel" the
      diminutive of "cheese," had written: "Before sleep, I like to have a
      little milk and CHISEL.")
      It was Mr. Parkhill alone who pointed out lapses in diction, the
      stumbling of syntax, the neglect of prepositions. The spirit of
      discussion had fled the beginners' grade. Gone were the sine quibus non
      of debate: strong convictions, stanchly held; the clash of opinions
      bravely defended; the friction of one certain he is right rubbing
      against another positive he is wrong.
      Now only Mr. Pfeiffer's sentences remained to be read. Mr. Parkhill
      teetered back and forth on his heels. "Mr. Pfeiffer."
      A hush fell upon the classroom. All waited. All listened. And what all
      heard, in utter astonishment, was the high, thin voice of Mr. Pfeiffer
      reciting in shrill sibilance: "In Sicago, pride Lake Missigan, many sops
      sell Mexican joolery made by small, sarp TZISELS." There was no getting
      around it: Mr. Pfeiffer had said "Sicago" for "Chicago," "Missigan" for
      "Michigan," " sarp" for "sharp." . . .
      "A Litvak!" a clarion voice rang out. It was Mr. Kaplan, rejuvenated.
      "Mein Gott, he's a Litvakl" He wheeled toward Mr. Parkhill. "Must be!
      Fromm Lit'uanial He prononces 'sh' like stimm commink ot of a pipe!"
      The heavens opened above the beginners' grade.
      "Shame, Koplan, shame!" bowled Miss Tarnova.
      "Can Pfeiffer HELP he is a foreigner?" protested Mr. Trabish.
      "In class is no place to condemn!" shouted Mr. Plonsky, so agitated that
      his glasses almost slipped off his nose.
      "I DESCRIBED," said Mr. Kaplan icily, "I did not condamn."
      The riposte only fanned the flames that swept through Fischel Pfeiffer's
      "Not fairl" charged Mr. Blattberg hotly.
      "Not fair?" Mr. Kaplan echoed. "If a customer calls vun of your shoes a
      'soo' vould you give him a banqvet antitled, 'Hoorah! He's ruinink de
      "But discussion should be about the WORK," Miss Mitnick Pleaded, "not
      the personal."
      "Mine remocks are abot de prononciational, not de poisonal!" rejoined
      Mr. Kaplan.
      "Class, CLASS," Mr. Parkhill kept saying, "there is no reason for such-"

      "Kaplan, BAD!" blurted Mr. Wilkomirski. (Mr. Wilkomirski, who was a
      sexton, often confused error with sin.) "New man writes like king!"
      "Hal" cried Mr. Kaplan. "He writes like a kink but talks like a Litvak!"

      "Kaplan, you plaina jalous!" roared Miss Caravello.
      "Who's makink poisonal remocks now?" asked Mr. Kaplan piously.
      "Mr. Kap-"
      "Stop! Caravello put her finger onl" boomed Reuben Plonsky. "Keplan
      picks on small ditail!"
      "A mistake," said Mr. Kaplan, "is a mistake."
      "Pfeiffer needs PRAISE, not pins!" Miss Mituick objected tearfully.
      "Are ve in cless to praise - or to LOIN?" Mr. Kaplan flashed.
      "You dun't give the Litvak a chence!" moaned Mrs. Moskowitz, all bosom.
      "I vouldn't give an ESKIMO, a chence to drive 'sh' ot of English,
      "Kaplen, give an inch," pleaded Bessie Shimmelfarb.
      "You got to make allowance for frands!" stormed Mr. Blattberg.
      "If mine own brodder makes a mistake," Mr. Kaplan retorted, "do I
      pretand he desoives the Nobles Prize? If Pinsky makes a mistake, does
      Keplen say, 'Skip, skip, he is maybe a cousin Einstein's'?"
      "What's got Einstein to do with Fischel Pfeiffer?" asked Mr. Plonsky in
      bewilderment. "STOP!"
      "Koplan, you GOT NO PITY?" importuned Miss Tarnova.
      "Piddy?" Mr. Kaplan drew crect, implacable in his wrath. "You esk piddy
      for DE MAN WHO SAD 'FEH!' TO DE CLESS?!"
      Now Mr. Parkhill understood. Now the mainspring of Mr. Kaplan's wrath
      lay revealed. "Class!" said Mr. Parkhill severely. "There is no need
      whatsoever for such intense dispute. Nothing is to be gained by ? er -
      passion. We are-" The upraised hand of Mr. Pinsky caught his eye. "Yes?"

      "How do you spall 'passion'?"
      Mr. Parkhill cleared his throat. "'Passion,"' he said, regretting his
      impulsiveness. " 'P-a-s-s-' "
      Before he could complete "passion," the bell rang. The contesting
      students rose, assembled their effects, and began streaming to the door,
      arguing among themselves, calling the familiar salutations. "Good night,
      all." "A GOOD lasson!" "Heppy vik-end."
      It had been a difficult evening, Mr. Parkhill reflected, a most
      difficult evening. The road to learning was long and hard, and strewn
      with barriers of the unforeseen. He noticed Miss Mitnick approaching the
      chair of the man who, responsible for all the tumult and the shouting,
      had been entirely forgotten in the heat of battle.
      "Mr. Pfeiffer," Miss Mitnick blushed, "your writing is splandid. Also
      your sentence structure."
      Mr. Blattberg joined them with a hearty "Pay no attention to Professor
      Kaplen!" He twirled the gold chain from which two baby teeth dangled,
      and favored Mr. Pfeiffer with that half-fraternal, half-subversive smile
      he reserved for those he tried to recruit to the anti-Kaplan forces.
      Then, to Mr. Parkhill's surprise, Mr. Kaplan stepped up to Mr. Pfeiffer,
      extending his hand in comity. "Pfeiffer, I congradulate. I hope you
      realize I vas only doink mine duty. I didn't min to hoit fillinks."
      "You sabotaged his self-respact!" hissed Mr. Blattberg.
      "'You made mish-mash from his recitation!" Mr. Plonsky glared.
      "You - you acted HARD," Miss Mitnick stammered, biting her lip.
      Mr. Pfeiffer adjusted his bow tie nattily. "If you esk me," he said,
      "Mr. Kaplan was right."
      "Keplan?!" The Blattberg-Mitnick-Plonsky task force could not believe
      their ears.
      "A mistake is a mistake," said Fischel Peiffer, quoting Mr. Kaplan
      verbatim, oblivious of the coals he was heaping on the heads of his
      partisans. "A fect is also a fect. I prononce bad."
      "Pfeiffer, dobble congradulation on you!" Mr. Kaplan cried. "You honist!
      Batter an honist mistake den a snikky socksass! So you made a mistake!
      Who dozzn't? Still, you made on me a FINE imprassion. Soch beauriful
      bendwritinki Not iven Mitnick writes so fency. So tell me, where you
      loined it?"
      "I heppen to be in embroidery," said Mr. Pfeiffer.
      "Ahal" Mr. Kaplan beamed. "Good night, Plonsky. Good night, Mitnick." He
      went to the door, where he turned, narrowing his eyes as of yore, and
      said in a measured tone, "Ve can vipe ot de 'Feh!,' Pfeiffer. But vun
      ting you should know: You ken write like Judge Vashington, you can spall
      like Vinston Choichill, but ve got a TITCHER, Pfeiffer, a movellous
      titcher, who, onlass you prononce 'sh' like a mama to a baby an' not
      like you booink at a ball game, vill kipp you in beginnis' grate if it
      takes fifty yiss!" He was gone.
      As Mr. Parkhill locked his desk, he had the uneasy feeling that Mr.
      Kaplan was right, and hoped against hope that he was wrong. Fifty
      years... ! Unless ? yes - Fata viam invenieni.

      THE RETURN OF H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N (1959) by Leo Rosten
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