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Young adult novel, p.7
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       Young Adult Novel, p.7

           Daniel Pinkwater
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  Master Yee spoke, "Look, you boys not come here anymore, see? This final—Yee means it!"

  "Not come here anymore? But why, Master?"

  "You boys psychologically disturbed," Master Yee said. "Yesterday you all have to go see Dr. Cookie Mendoza, Board of Education psychiatrist. Yee not want certified loonies hang around laundry, okay? You come back here, Yee call cops—put you all in straitjackets."

  "How did you know we went to see Dr. Cookie Mendoza?" the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) asked.

  "Mr. Shapiro tell me," Master Yee said. "Mr. Shapiro good boy."

  "How did Kevin Shapiro know we went to see the psychiatrist?" I asked.

  "Mr. Shapiro close personal friend of pervert Richard F. Scott, locker room jerk-off artist," the Zen Master said. "Now you go—never come back!"


  Tzu-mishi-wa and


  What a blow to the five Dharma Ducks! To be rejected by the Zen Master is the most serious thing that can possibly happen. In one ghastly moment we had been deprived of both our beloved Master Yee and our historic meeting place, the Balkan Falcon. The Zen Dada Ducks were in a state of profound spiritual despair. Moreover, we were standing in the rain.

  In one of Captain Colossal's Dr. Wizardo comics there was a story in which the Dr. succumbs to a state of Zen confusion known as tzu-mishi-wa. This comes about because of a psychic spell cast on him by his evil rival, the Pahkman. The danger of being tzu-mishi-wa is that it can lead to mishi-gasu, a state of permanent madness. In the comic book the Dr. has to struggle against his deteriorating state of mind with nothing but his iron will and his autonomic nervous system. The Pahkman almost gets him this time. The Dharma Ducks wondered if we ourselves were not tzu-mishi-wa.

  As always, we turned to our leader, the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) for guidance.

  "I say we all kill ourselves," El Presdiente suggested. "We've lost face, and that's a fact. The only way out is honorable ritual suicide."

  The idea of making the ultimate gesture of grief was discussed for a while. There were no takers. It was also clear that the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) was himself hoping to be talked out of the notion.

  "You can't kill yourself, Presidente," the Indiana Zephyr said.

  "Why not?"

  "Well, it will probably hurt. It's likely to be disgusting and messy. The rest of us will be depressed—and when you're all done, you'll be dead."

  "Well, then we'll just have to think of something else," our selfless leader said.

  "Revenge," I said. "We could take revenge."

  "Revenge on whom?" asked Igor.

  "Well, it was Kevin Shapiro who told Master Yee that we'd been to the psychiatrist," I said. "We could get Kevin."

  "The last time we fooled with Kevin we all wound up with soggy Grape-Nuts stuffed down our pants—remember that," Captain Colossal said. We all remembered that.

  "Besides," the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) said, "it was Yee's intolerant attitude about people who seek psychiatric help that led him to throw us out. Kevin had just told him something that was perfectly true—and nothing to be ashamed of."

  "Certainly," the Indiana Zephyr said. "In this day and age there is no stigma attached to having seen a psychiatrist."

  "Certainly not."


  Furiouser and Furiouser

  Horace Gerstenblut, the Lord High Executioner, called the Dharma Ducks to his office.

  "I have here the official report from Dr. Cookie Mendoza," the Executioner said. "She says the five of you are vicious little perverts, and utterly preoccupied with unwholesome practices. I could have told her that. Anyway, the doctor has made some very sensible recommendations, which I intend to put into effect. Want to know what they are?"

  We nodded.

  "Dr. Mendoza suggests that you all be assigned to a disciplinary gym class for three periods each day—that will take the place of your regular gym period and two study periods. She says you need lots of strenuous exercise to take your minds off nasty things. She has also suggested that your gym lockers be taken away, lest you misuse them. And of course a full report will be sent to your parents, with our recommendation that they institute further treatment or punishment as they see fit. I personally hope they skin you alive."

  "Mr. Gerstenblut," the Indiana Zephyr said, "you really don't like us, do you?"

  "No," said Horace Gerstenblut, "I really don't like you. Now, go straight to the disciplinary gym class—Coach Mohammed is waiting for you."

  We walked to the gym. "We are really tzumishi-wa," Igor said.


  Zen Christmas

  One of the difficulties arising from going to three gym classes every day and not having a locker is that you can't take a shower. We found that out the first time we left our clothes on a bench in the locker room and discovered that other members of the correctional gym class had tied everything into tight knots and had then apparently urinated on the knots. The safest thing was to stay dressed throughout the day. This had the effect of making the Dharma Ducks five very bad-smelling individuals indeed. Our fellow students had never been what you would call close to us—but now they kept the greatest possible distance.

  "Look at it this way," Captain Colossal said, "I'll bet none of us catches a cold this semester."

  "Plus, we're developing some great muscles doing all those laps and jumping jacks," Igor added.

  This conversation took place on the lawn outside the school. The Wild Zen Dada Ducks now endeavored to be out of doors as much as possible—and we had automatically increased our interpersonal distance to about six feet.

  The hardest thing for the Ducks was the loss of our Zen Master. It was bleak indeed, having no source of guidance other than back issues of Dr. Wizardo. In addition, our respective parents had inflicted some heavy complications upon us after receiving Dr. Mendoza's report. Captain Colossal was required to see the treacherous Dr. Cookie Mendoza in private ses sions. The Indiana Zephyr had to give up his room and sleep in the basement. Igor's parents were negotiating with the parish priest to have their son exorcised. The Honorable Venustiano Carranza was enrolled in the rifle and machinegun class and Sunday school run by the Anti-Communist White Americans League. I, Charles the Cat, was required to work after school decapitating chickens in the basement of my father's discount poultry market. Winter had set in.

  Every now and then we would see Kevin Shapiro in the halls of the school, or driving past in his car. Unless it was actually raining or snowing, the top would be down. The three cheerleaders were always with him. We heard a rumor that Kevin had been accepted for early admission by Princeton University.

  At Thanksgiving dinner Captain Colossal's parents announced that they were getting a divorce. They told the Captain it was mostly his fault.

  About a week later Igor's dog, Roger, died. Igor had owned Roger for about ten years.

  The Indiana Zephyr's hair was not growing back, except for clumps here and there.

  The Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) caught pneumonia during a survival exercise with his Sunday school and had to spend a week in the hospital.

  I had dreams about the chickens every night.

  We were all failing everything except gym.


  Satori Te Salutamus

  Even though beset by worldly difficulties, the Dharma Ducks kept up with Zen practice. Having been deprived a second time of our glorious Balkan Falcon, we had to make the best of conditions, and meditate where we could. We experimented with various locations out of doors and the empty garage of the Indiana Zephyr. Finally we settled on my father's place of business, after hours. I had the key. There was a certain coziness to the deserted discount poultry market. Here the Ducks pursued enlightenment, until a certain night.

  It was Captain Colossal who spoke first on that historic evening. "Zen sucks!" the Captain said.

/>   The calm and tranquillity of our inwardness was shattered.

  After a long pause Igor said, "It certainly does."

  "I've been depressed for months," the Indiana Zephyr said.

  I, Charles the Cat, was moved to speak. "I don't think I've ever gotten the hang of this meditation stuff."

  "Me, neither," said the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico). "Also, life stinks."

  "God, does it ever!"

  "And ever since we became Zens, it's stunk worse than usual."

  "Right! And why haven't we destroyed Kevin Shapiro?"

  "Yeah! How is it we never murdered the little weasel?"

  "I want revenge on Dr. Cookie Mendoza!" Captain Colossal shouted.

  "And why does Horace Gerstenblut still walk the streets a happy man?"

  "Death! Death to Horace Gerstenblut!"

  "Our parents are shits!"

  "They are! Let's make them suffer!"

  The Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) spoke. "Brother Ducks, we have been deluded! We have abandoned Art in favor of religious fanaticism and cheap imported philosophy!"

  "But no more!" Igor shouted, waving his copy of A Boy's Life of Mozart. "Gentlemen, out with your kazoos! Eine Kleine Nachtmusik! Ready? Begin!"

  The Dada Boys

  in Collitch

  [The first chapter of The Dada Boys in Collitch, a novel, to be completed sometime or other.]

  When the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) went away to college, the loyal Wild Dada Ducks went with him.

  I, Charles the Cat, actually applied to and was accepted by Martwist College in upstate New York. The other Wild Dada Ducks, Igor, Captain Colossal, and the Indiana Zephyr, simply packed their suitcases and came with us. Wild Dada Ducks stick together.

  Also, the Captain and the Zephyr had not been accepted by any colleges. This was probably because they had filled out all their application forms in tempera paint. Their idea had been to show that they were creative individuals. It was disappointing to know that Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Hawaii had such unenlightened admissions policies.

  Igor, in a light moment, had made preliminary inquiries about the Marine Corps—and when the recruiting officer had taken to calling his home and talking to his father, he thought better of the matter, and decided to leave town.

  So it was that the Wild Dada Ducks, matriculated and otherwise, set out to seek higher education together—as we had pursued lower education.

  It should be noted that the title "Wild Dada Ducks" was something of a holdover from an earlier day during which the Ducks were exclusively Dada artists. This was before we had attained Zen enlightenment and then abandoned Zen forever in favor of dedicating ourselves to the spirit of W. A. Mozart, our ultimate hero. We retained our old nomenclature in the belief that Mozart would have approved of it, had he been able to understand it, Dada regrettably having been as yet undiscovered in Mozart's time.

  One of our favorite—if not our very favorite—Dada Duck sayings was, "What would Mozart have done in a case like this?"

  The dorm room in Richard M. Nixonn Hall which had been assigned to the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) and myself was made resplendent by the massed display of Mozart memorabilia belonging to all the Wild Dada Ducks. This consisted of artfully altered rock posters, on which the name and face of Mozart had been added or superimposed in tempera paint by the talented Captain Colossal and the Indiana Zephyr. In addition, there were many pictures and artifacts in the Dada mode honoring Wolfgang. There was a picture of the ham and cheese sandwich (on a bagel) which had been Mozart's favorite, a button (probably) identical to one of Mozart's in a small glass case, Mozart's (facsimile) toothbrush, and an original work by Captain Colossal entitled "Mozart meets Leon Redbone," in which the two culture heros are seated together at the keyboard.

  In addition to the two beds, two desks, two chairs, one light fixture, one light bulb provided by the college, as specified in the catalogue, the room also contained the three sleeping bags, suitcases, and various impedimenta of our three brother Ducks. It was a tight fit, and difficult to avoid stepping on outstretched Ducks at night—but the Ducks were together and about to embark on the great educational adventure.

  We arrived at Martwist College at night. This was planned in the event that there might be some objection to our moving five people into a room for two. Against the time when a regular way of feeding the extra Ducks would be found, we had provided ourselves with four megasalamis, each over three feet long and sixteen inches in circumference, and a gigantic provolone cheese. These rations could sustain life for weeks in an emergency—and provide healthful midnight snacks for the student Ducks if it developed that other means of nutrition were available.

  As it turned out, our preparations were useful, but not strictly necessary. The Martwist College cafeteria did not require identification. They simply fed anyone who turned up. This was probably because the management rightly assumed that anyone not enrolled—that is, anyone who had a choice of eating elsewhere—would automatically do so, self-preservation being the foremost of human instincts. From a Dada perspective, however, the food offered in the college cafeteria was worthy of study. Captain Colossal and Igor both agreed that it was better than what they'd been raised on.

  Our other concern, that there might be some objection to the three additional occupants in Room 42, Richard M. Nixonn Hall, ultimately also proved uncalled-for. We were later to learn that in other rooms in the dorm there were to be found still more nonmatriculates, girlfriends, household pets, at least one farmyard animal (a goat), chemical laboratories, and assorted contraband, drugs, firearms, and, it was rumored, a cadaver belonging to a zealous premedical student. Richard M. Nixonn Hall was a comfortable place, and the Wild Dada Ducks hoped that for once in our lives we were in congenial and friendly surroundings.

  "You know, I really like it here," the Indiana Zephyr said, gnawing on a hunk of salami. Beginning with the first slice taken out of the first mega-salami, our little room was suffused with a homey fragrance which was to make our residence and our persons distinctive for years to come.

  "I like it too," Captain Colossal said, "and classes haven't even started yet."

  "It is indeed fortuitous that we have come to this fine school," said the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico). "This may be the beginning of the cultural renaissance which we as Dadaists, Zennists, and Mozartians have wished for for so long."

  "You guys want to walk around and look the place over?" Igor asked.

  The September night was soft and mild as the five Wild Dada Ducks strolled through the campus of Martwist College. The moon illuminated the roofs of the quaint old buildings. Students hurried here and there, greeting one another. The windows of the dormitory rooms shone with a friendly light.

  "What a neat place!" the Indiana Zephyr said.

  "Hey! Hi, guys!" someone said. The one who had spoken was a youth of six foot two or three inches in height. His hair was brown, and wavy. He had broad shoulders, and a sort of chiseled face, which looked splendid in the moonlight. He stood, hands on hips, feet apart, his long legs terminating in well-worn cowboy boots.

  "I am Ronald," the student said. "Ronald Rubin. I am the president of Nixonn Hall."

  "That's our dorm!" Captain Colossal said.

  "I am also president of the student government, president of the Business Club, the Pre-Law Club, the Investment Club, the Campus Christian Crusade, and captain of the soccer team. I am also related to Leon P. Murtwee, the president of this college. I just want to say, welcome to Martwist College. If there's anything you need—or if you just need to talk things over—feel free to call on me. Also, if you should need to borrow some money, or if you require medical advice—about abortions, for instance, or VD—or investment counseling, just come see me, okay? Also, if you have any complaints—if any of the freshmen seem to be the wrong sort—you know what I mean—just let me know. An
y of you guys play any sports?"

  "We're all pretty good at croquet," Igor said.

  "Yes—well, as I said, if there's anything you need."

  We thanked Ronald Rubin. After shaking hands with all of us he left to greet other freshmen.

  "What a nice guy," Captain Colossal said.

  "He sure is," I said.

  The next day the five Wild Dada Ducks attended an inspiring orientation lecture given by a professor whose name we did not catch. It was something like Brontosaurus. Professor Brontosaurus told us how going to Martwist College was the most important thing ever to happen in our lives. He told us that we were going to earn 3.6 times more money for the rest of our lives than we would have earned if we hadn't gone to college. He told us that we were going to be part of the small group of people who would run things in our country. He told us that it was not stuck-up or conceited for us to regard ourselves as better than other people—we were better than other people—at least those who hadn't been to college.

  The Wild Dada Ducks felt rather important and self-satisfied after listening to Professor Brontosaurus.

  "He didn't mention anything about Art or Culture, or Philosophy," Igor said, "or Mozart—I would have expected someone giving a lecture about going to college to have mentioned Mozart."

  "All that is taken for granted," the Indiana Zephyr said. "It's assumed that anyone in a college is interested in those things. What the professor talked about was stuff we might never have thought of. For instance, I never knew that I would earn three point six times more money because I'm going to college."

  "Technically, you aren't going to college," the Honorable Venustiano Carranza (President of Mexico) said.

  "Well, I'm here," the Indiana Zephyr said. "I plan to attend classes. I live in the dorm. I eat in the cafeteria. I'm ready to learn, and discuss ideas, and expand my mind and all that sort of thing. I'd call that going to college."

  The next lecture was all about how to register for classes. The matriculated students (in the case of the Wild Dada Ducks, that was El Presidente and myself, Charles the Cat) were given packets of forms to be filled out, and a list of the courses offered and their descriptions. The lecture, given by a lady from the registrar's office, had to do with filling out the forms in ink, and printing carefully. Then we all had to go to the gymnasium and get our forms signed by the professor who would teach each course we had chosen.

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