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Last Will and Testament


Patti Dinneen 

I had dinner last night with Will. I hadn't intended on dining with Will, I didn't drive with him, hadn't arranged to meet him, and essentially, hadn't even met him until my daughter and I arrived for dinner at a popular family restaurant. Quickly thereafter I decided that if I were ever in Will's company again for dinner, I would opt to skip it and do something a little less painful, like jam a hot poker in my eye. 

Shawn, who is nine, and I had settled in for a quick dinner at about 5:30. We were chatting and reading off trivia cards, when in walked Will. Will was apparently under the impression that everyone was interested in his arrival, because he was screaming before he even got seated. I quickly learned Will's name by the fact that his mother kept saying it whenever she spoke to him.

"Isn't this nice, Will?" "Look at the fish tank, Will!" "Put that plate of spaghetti back on the nice waiter's tray, Will!" 

However, she never uttered the words that I was hoping to hear, those being "Hold still while I put this gag on you, Will!" I estimated Will to be about three years old. His arrival immediately made me tense; unfortunately that wasn't the case with Will's mother, because she seemed completely oblivious to Will's disruption of the entire restaurant. Worse yet, I suspect that she was charmed by her little urchin. 

Yeah, so was my daughter, who in her nine-year-old innocence looked up at me with her big green eyes and said, "Why doesn't she shut that kid up?"

Will and his family, comprised of his grandmother (who I knew was his grandmother by his screaming "NO, Grandma!!"), his mother and a younger brother, were seated directly across from us, next to a large fish tank. I'm not sure if I imagined this, but I swear I saw one of the enormous fish in the tank pull a pill bottle, which read Prozac, out from under the pink gravel at the bottom of the tank. This fish then proceeded to hand out the pills to all the other fish that had lined up at attention, tail fins wagging in fear. Their tense fishy faces soon became relaxed, but eerily it looked as though each fish was mouthing the words "Help me." 

Trust me, they needed it, because Will immediately began jumping back and forth between his table and the empty table adjacent to it, all the while pounding on the fish tank. As you can imagine, it was just adorable. The fish began playing dead by floating upside down at the top of the tank, in hopes that Will would lose interest. 

No such luck, Will grabbed a fork off the table and quickly began to try to skewer the floating fish. At which point the fish ceased playing dead, primarily due to
the fact that they actually were dead.

All eyes in the restaurant were on Will and conversation between table members ceased. I think I heard one kindly old gentlemen who reminded me of my grandpa say "Leave the *&%@%# fish alone, you little *&%$," his sweet old wife nodding
in agreement. Will's mother was occupying herself with the younger brother who had begun the cunning behavior of stuffing Cheerios into all his orifices. The ones he stuffed into his mouth he cheerfully retrieved and lobbed into the crowded restaurant.

I picked a mass the size of a golf ball out from behind my daughter's right ear and tried to resume a normal conversation with her. Funny, her hands kept going back to the butter knife. Meanwhile Will's grandmother made the unfortunate mistake of sitting down in Will's path as he ran back and forth along the fish tank. 

Initially I had hope that the grandmother, having reared children in an era when their precious self-esteem was not an issue, would introduce Will to the foreign concept of proper behavior when dining in public. In other words, I hoped she would shut that kid up! 

No dice. Granny's face held an expression that could only be called "Fear of Will." When Will noticed Grandma in his path along the fish tank, do you think he said "Excuse me, please pardon me grandma, but there is blowfish over there in the
corner that I simply must see?" Nah, what Will said was "MOVE, GRANDMA... YOU'RE IN MY WAY!! GRANDMA MOVE RIGHT NOW!" 

Okay granny, here's your chance, I'm thinking. Tell old Willy boy to sit down and while he's at it, shut up. But grandma didn't do that at all; what she did was pick a cheerio wad off her pretty blue dress and move forward in her seat so that our hero could continue tormenting the remaining fish. 


When Will decided the fish were no longer interesting, he took a tour of the restaurant. He didn't quite stop to visit; he just sort of wandered from table to table making loud comments back to his mother. Mom of course, in all her motherly pride thought that this was just the cutest thing ever. In her mind, there was no way that the entire restaurant wasn't interested in the antics of her "high spirited" child. 

Wasn't he just the cutest? After Will passed by our table my daughter, who is generally very tolerant, turned to me and said "I don't like him very much." I made it clear she shouldn't pass judgment by responding, "Yeah, I hate him too."

The waiter arrived at Will's table and said to the mother "Can you please contain him a bit, ma'am?" to which she responded with a laugh, "Oh he's just a little high spirited!" "Come on back to our table now, Willy," she called. Will, who had made it
halfway across the restaurant, responded to this request by picking up a roll off a diner's plate and hurling it across the restaurant at his mother. The mother turned to the waiter and said "He's going to be a major league pitcher one day, I'm certain of it!" As the waiter walked by I heard him mumble, "He ain't gonna live that long, Lady."

Will finally worked his way back to his table in time for his food to arrive. 

"Mommy got your favorite, Willy, hot dogs!'

"I hate hot dogs!" Will screamed, as he picked up the hot dog and dropped it, bun and all, into the fish tank, soon followed by the french fries and pickles that also adorned his plate. 

"Now Willy, I'm not sure that pork products are good for those fishies... What do you think?" 

"I want my hot dog!" Will screamed. "I'm hungry, those fish stole my hot dog! I WANT MY HOT DOG HOT DOG HOT DOG!" 

"It's okay Honey, Mommy will get you another hot dog."

"I WANT THAT HOT DOG! That fish took my hot dog." 

Will then started rooting around in the fish tank trying to retrieve his food. The manager soon came over to the table.

"Ma'am, you'll have to keep your child out of the fish tank. Are you aware that because of him our entire tank is now, pardon the pun, sleeping with the fishes?"

"Oh, he's just high spirited. He didn't mean to do any harm, he's very sensitive you know.  Please don't let him know he hurt the fish, I think he may be a vet when he grows up, he loves animals so!"

"He ain't gonna live that long, Lady," the manager remarked as he walked away.

"I WANT DADDY!" Will suddenly screamed.

"Will honey, Mommy told you that Daddy had to go away on a very important trip."

"Why? Where is Daddy! I want Daddy!"

"Remember, I told you how Daddy volunteered for a very important job on the Mir Space Station and that we won't be able to see or talk to him for at least a year. Remember how Daddy explained how important it was for him to go very, very far into outer space?"


"Honey, I'm sure Daddy wants to be with you too."

"No he doesn't," my daughter whispered to me. "I think he'd prefer being shackled to Jabba the Hut," I replied.

Finally it appeared that the family was going to leave. Suddenly a horrid smell began emanating from the younger child. Will immediately caught on and yelled "Kyle's got a stinky diaper, Kyle's got a stinky diaper! Hey Mom, Kyle made stinky right here in the restaurant!" He then began walking around the restaurant informing people that his brother smelled bad. 

The owner of the restaurant came out and went over to the table and said "Ma'am, I'm afraid we are going to have to ask you to leave. We can't have your child disrupting the customers like this."

"Oh, he's not disrupting them, he's just a little high spirited," she responded. "He was just a little excited about his brother's messy diaper. He always likes to relay the latest news to everyone around him. Isn't it precious? I think he's going to be a
reporter when he grows up." As if on cue, the entire restaurant shouted in unison, "He ain't gonna live that long, Lady!"

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