A Mad Hatter’s Garden Party

Pass The Pizza

 

The Do’s Series: Segment 20

© Grandpa Jim

 

 

“Why macaroni?” Richie asks and makes a face.

“It goes way back. Understand?”

“No, I don’t. Come on, Fonzie, don’t give me that.”

“I’ll give you this.” The Fonz raises a fist.

“Sorry. It’s just that. Well, it’s like going through a pasta strainer.”

“That’s the process.” Arthur Fonzarelli walks to the mirror, draws the comb from the back pocket of his jeans, stops an inch from the black shiny perfectly groomed hair. “Ay!” he says, tosses his head back and puts the comb away.

“Who are we?” Richie continues. “I mean, Fonz, who are we really?”

“(H)eyyyy! Watch your mouth.”

“You know we’re not. . . .”

“Whoa! Enough.” The Fonz walks to the wall. “Are you staying here, or are you going to the party with me?”

“Sure, yes. Where’s the door?”

“I thought you’d never ask.” Fonzie raises a hand, bends the fingers and blows on the fingertips. “Ready?” he asks.

“Yes, you know I am.”

The Fonz makes a fist with the raised hand and gives the wall a sharp crack. A door appears and opens inward.

“You first.” Fonzie motions Richie forward.

The door closes behind them with no seam showing on the surface of the smooth wall.

“The pizza’s over there.” A short person in a brown waistcoat and checkered pants adjusts a huge tophat with a band holding a card reading “In this style 10/6.” He waves theatrically across the crowded clearing to an ancient table piled high with boxes. The top box in each pile is open. Empty containers litter the grass below and around the scratched and battered legs. “We pushed the table back against the tree to make more room.” The small man wrinkles his nose and fidgets with an overlarge polkdotted bowtie. “There’s plenty of pizza left, but you must hurry. The band is about to start.” The hat and its occupant duck away and disappear from sight.

“Who was that?” Richie asks as they walk toward the table.

“Our Host.” Fonzie stretches and surveys the room. “He is, as they say, ‘Mad as a Hatter’.”

“What was that?” Richie’s left leg is brushed back by a rushing bunny with its red eyes fixed on a pocket watch.

“That was the White Rabbit.” The Fonz rotates his shoulders and smiles at a passing lady dressed in a ten-of-hearts playing card. “He’s always late for a date.”

“Ok, I suppose Alice is here too?”

“No, she never attends.” Fonzie lifts his chin and bows deeply to a lady in a blue robe standing to the left of the pizzas. Beside her, a gaunt figure in a tattered yellow-green overcloak raises a hand to hide his face.

“Pretty lady, Fonz. Is she a friend of yours?”

“She taught me how to dance. That was a long time ago. Before I met you.”

“That guy beside her is staring at us through his fingers.”

“He’ll have broken fingers if he doesn’t watch what he’s doing. You stare at the Fonz you had better have a good reason, a very good reason, and you better ask permission, my permission. Savvy?”

“Yes, Fonz. . . . He’s gone. I can’t see him. He just disappeared.”

“Good. Saves me the trouble of making him disappear.”

Their conversation is interrupted by the band playing an instrumental introduction. The singer steps to the microphone, strums his guitar and begins to sing.

 

“I went to a garden party to reminisce with my old friends

A chance to share old memories and play our songs again

When I got to the garden party, they all knew my name

No one recognized me, I didn’t look the same”

 

“Fonz, it’s him! It’s Ricky Nelson. I recognize him.”

“Duh.” The Fonz rolls his eyes.

“I mean, he looks older.”

“Get a grip, Richie.”

“Right. I mean, sure. Still, he does. . . .”

“Focus. Here’s your plate.” Fonzie slides a huge slice of pepperoni pizza onto Richie’s plate.

“Thanks for the pizza, Fonz. Hey! There are two of the Beatles. That’s George Harrison, and he’s talking to John Lennon. Who’s the girl?”

In the background, the band moves on:

 

“People came from miles around, everyone was there

Yoko brought her walrus, there was magic in the air

‘n’ over in the corner, much to my surprise

Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise”

 

“Yoko.”

“Ono?”

“’Yoko brought her walrus.’ The walrus is John Lennon and Yoko Ono is his wife. ‘Mr. Hughes hid in Dylan’s shoes wearing his disguise.’ That line identifies George Harrison by another name when he was thinking about doing an album of Bob Dylan’s songs. Listen to the music. It’s all there.”

Richie nods and lifts the drooping slice of pizza, a blank look on his face.

“Eat.” The Fonz shakes his head. “Don’t think. Eat.”

“Good evening, Arthur.” The older gentleman in the long robe adjusts the green cap slipping from his head.

“Merlin!” Arthur Fonzarelli sets his plate down and extends a hand. “I thought you’d be here.”

The tall figure leans closer. “’Minnesinger HitBolt’ will do. Few know me by that other name.”

“Few know me by ‘Arthur.’ Only you and Mrs. C.”

“But, Fonz, I know. . . .” Richie begins.

“Sit on it, Richie.”

“Who is this young man, Arthur?”

“Right. Minnesinger HitBolt, may I introduce Richard Cunningham, son of Mr. and Mrs. C, my friend, sitcom companion and a long-time member of the Happy Days traveling band and pasta roadshow.”

“You can call me Richie, Mr. Mimesayer.”

Fonzie hits Richie on the arm. “Minnesinger, dolt, not Mimesayer.”

Richie rubs his arm. “Sorry, Mr. Minne . . . singer.”

“It’s quite all right. I’m often mistaken for others and called many things. But, thank you. And, I will call you Richie.”

“Thank you. And, I was wondering, do you know about our band?”

“Yes, I do, Richie.”

“I mean, I love the music and all that, but don’t you think it is a little odd for us to travel around as pasta, turn into a band and play to dwarves?”

“I guess I’d never thought of it like that, but. . . .”

“Put a sock in it, Richie. The Minnesinger has better things to. . . .”

HitBolt raises his hand. “It’s alright, Arthur. Richie has a point. I can imagine the transitions are difficult. I think Richie is asking why this is necessary? Isn’t that right, Richie?”

“Yes, that’s it. I mean, what’s going on?”

The MinneSinger raises his head and listens to the music.

 

“Played them all the old songs, thought that’s why they came

No one heard the music, we didn’t look the same

I said hello to “Mary Lou”, she belongs to me

When I sang a song about a honky-tonk, it was time to leave”

 

“Perhaps, Richie Cunningham, you are the unexpected. The small players with the old songs who don’t look the same. Perhaps you’re here because you will be underestimated.”

“Okay. I’m not sure what you mean. But, do we have to go back and play to all those dwarf kids? I mean they throw stuff. Icky, sticky, itchy stuff. Could we have another audience?”

HitBolt laughs, catches his hat and places it back on his head. “I think we can find something else for you to do.” The Minnesinger glances toward a longhaired figure in a tartan kilt approaching the pizza table. “In fact, there is the person I wanted you to meet. A formidable fellow with a following of well-armed and experienced warriors.”

The band, which seems to have been playing the same parts over and over again, moves to a new verse.

 

“Someone opened up a closet door and out stepped Johnny B. Goode

Playing guitar like a-ringin’ a bell and lookin’ like he should

If you gotta play at garden parties, I wish you a lotta luck

But if memories were all I sang, I’d rather drive a truck”

 

“Yes,” the Minnesinger continues, “this is the very person we are here to talk with. He may not be Chuck Berry, but he may be the country boy for us.”

“I get it. The song ‘Johnny B. Goode’ was sung by and was about Chuck Berry. He was the ‘country boy’ in the song.” The Fonz squints at the muscled individual in the kilt who lifts two full boxes of pizza from the table, puts them under an arm and turns to scan the crowd. “This guy is dressed like he comes from some country somewhere. He doesn’t look like a truck driver. Is he a biker? A country boy biker?”

“Yeh,” Richie echoes. “A biker. Or, maybe. . . . Hey! The Mad Max!”

The Minnesinger swallows a laugh, grabs at his cap and opens his eyes wide with a new thought. “Perhaps you’re both right. I like this conversation already. We must talk to William about these very things. Arthur, you and Richard are a credit to your band and our cause.”

“Ay!” The Fonz gives HitBolt the thumbs up. “We’re with you. Lead on. Wherever that might be.”

“Wherever,” echoes Richie.

“Thank you.” The Minnesinger raises both hands into the air and shouts across the space. “William, William Wallace, over here. For clan, country and ‘Freedom!’ Over here. To us.”

The bravehearted fighter lifts his head, smiles and steps forward. As if on signal, the crowd parts to make a way, as the band finishes the song.

 

“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well.

You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself

Lot-dah-dah-dah (lot-dah-dah-dah)

Lot-in-dah-dah-dah

‘n’ it’s all right now, learned my lesson well

You see, ya can’t please everyone, so you got to please yourself”

 

“And we will do just that,” Minnesinger HitBolt says under his breath, as he reaches to grasp the burly Scot’s forearm. “And perhaps surprise someone else very much in the process.”