The Toastmaker's Revenge

                                                                                What? Doesn't everybody make toast?
                                                                                                              – Jake Shimabukuro

          Every day after school Kazuo would dutifully finish the chores assigned to him and all his homework, and then he would practice the `ukulele. Depending upon how late his mother came home to prepare a sumptuous feast, Kaz might practice for hours and hours at a time. All that `ukulele practice began to pay off. Kaz became quite an accomplished musician. Little by little Kaz grew quite confident in his `ukulele playing ability, as well he should, but despite all he had accomplished musically at such a young age, he still was not completely happy.
          One day on his way home from school, Kaz was waiting to cross the street when a couple and their beautiful daughter came driving by. They drove a stunning red Mustang convertible that Kaz had seen pass by at about the same time every day, but this was the first time he'd seen it with the top down. The daughter looked like Kate Winslet posing for Leonardo DiCaprio, except that she wore clothes. Suddenly Kaz felt very dizzy.
          "Eh Pop, try stop!" the girl blurted out. The fiery Mustang screeched to a halt. "Whas dat onolicious smell?" the girl exclaimed.
          Kaz's heart pounded. He’d been trying a new cologne guaranteed to attract women like flies.
          "I tink, Precious," the father said, "dat it's dose malasadas ova dere." He pointed to the bakery across the street. Kaz's heart sank, like DiCaprio when Winslet lets go of his frozen hand.
          "Pull in, Pops!" Precious ordered. "I like grine some sweet smellin Portagee doodads."
           Long after the Mustang had roared off from Leonard’s, Kaz stood muttering “Precious.”
          That night, Kaz couldn’t eat the tiniest morsel. He stared into space, finally mumbled “Precious,” then excused himself from the table. His mother watched him wander toward his bedroom and then smiled a knowingly motherly smile.
          In his room, Kaz picked up his cherished `ukulele. He feebly attempted a few chords, but his hands shook and his fine bass singing voice trembled uncontrollably. "D-don't w-worry, b-b-be hap-happy — Aaah!" he cried out. All night he tossed and turned, visions of jewelry, drawing pencils, and Precious dancing in his head. "How can I meet her?" he sighed aloud.
          "Meet who?" his brother Brian asked from his bed across the room.
          "Are you awake?" Kaz asked.
          "How can sleep wit you making so much noise. Whas da haps, bro?"
          Kaz recounted the sighting of Precious. "I must meet her," he concluded. "But how?”
          "You said dey drive dat way all da time, right?" his brother asked. "Tomorrow go drown yourself in dat new musk hormone cologne you get an stan on da street at da same time."
          "That's the cologne I was wearing today," Kaz lamented. "It had but little effect."
          "No, bro, geev um. Da whole bottle. Dey drive by wit da top down, or even one window stay open, den guarans dey gotta stop cuz you goin bline um wit da fumes."
          Kaz shook his head dismally. "No, alas, I don't think that will do the trick." He rubbed his swollen eyes. And then it hit him, like the icy waters of the Atlantic. "Toast!" he exclaimed.
          "What?" his brother asked.
          "Toast!” Kaz called out with great joy. “Toast!”
          "I no mo one glass," his brother said.
          Kaz chortled with glee. "Who makes the best homemade Portuguese sweetbread from scratch with secret cinnamon spice mix toast in the world?"
          "Ma," his brother answered without hesitation.
          "So tomorrow I'll have Mom show me how she makes her Portuguese sweetbread secret cinnamon spice mix toast, set up a stand on Kapahulu after school, and make toast.”
          Early next morning Kaz waited for his mother in the kitchen. He excitedly explained his situation and his brilliant plan. "It's true," his mother thought. "My little `ukulele player is in love." She gladly helped Kaz make the sweetbread from scratch, showed how to brown the toast just right, and how to apply the perfect amount of both butter and her secret cinnamon spice mix.
          That afternoon, armed with bread, butter, special secret cinnamon spice mix, toaster oven, table, chair, a sign that said "Free Portuguese Cinnamon Sweetbread Toast," a small but adequate Honda portable generator, and a butter knife, Kaz set up on Kapahulu Avenue.
          About twenty minutes before he hoped the Precious one would pass, Kaz began making toast. The smell was heavenly. Kaz prayed for the family to have their top down again. People flocked to his stand, drawn by the aroma. "Do I have enough bread?" Kaz wondered. The question was soon answered as he gave away his last slice of toast. Kaz looked up at the next person in line.
          The huge gold medallion hanging heavily around her neck read “Precious.” Kaz wanted to swear, but since he’d never sworn even once in his entire life, he simply said, "I am so sorry, Precious, but I have no more toast."
          "What?" Precious questioned. "You talkin bubbles o wot? Whatchoo mean you no mo?"
          "I fear that all my toast is gone."
          "Sheez Louise," the peevish Precious responded. "I wen make Pops stop cuz I wiffed dat onolicious smell, and you tellin me you no mo even dough I wen stan in dis freakin long line?"
          "I could run to over to Leonard’s and buy some decent sweetbread," Kaz suggested optimistically. "If you wait, I'll make you toast. Just for you, Precious. Especially for you."
          The Precious one rolled her eyeballs. "You tink I get all da time in da worl fo fut aroun while you go Leonard’s, den come back, den I still gotta wait fo da toast to come toasty. I ain’t one dumb tita, brah. I Precious. Screw you an screw your stupid frickin toast."
          Kaz’s heart hardened. "No one talks that way about my mom's toast," he said softly.
          "Yo mom! Eh, go tell yo mom fo educate you about givin out free toast, gonfonit. If you was smaht, an I can tell ain’t, you woulda been charging big bucks fo da toast. Den plenny people not goin eat um, yeah? So would have some fo me, right? Yo Mom's toast. Sheesh."
          Kaz's blood pressure shot up like Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” climbing the charts, but he controlled his temper. "Excuse me, but I find it ironic that your name is Precious.”
           “Ironic my ass!” the not-so-Precious one replied.
           Kaz shook his head. “My mother is a saint, and her homemade Portuguese sweetbread secret cinnamon spice mix toast is the best toast this side of heaven. Were you to wait here till the proverbial cows come home, I would never consider coming back to make any toast for someone as ill-mannered as you. Good day" — he almost choked saying the name — “Precious.”
          And with that, Kaz packed up his stand and headed home. Once he had neatly put away what remained of his mother's secret cinnamon spice mix, the table and chair, the Honda generator, the toaster oven, and the butter knife, he sat on his bed and began playing his `ukulele.
          "Whoa!" his brother exclaimed, coming through the door. "What was dat stylin song? Mus be you wen hook up with dat Precious chick big time, huh?"
          Kaz took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. "Sadly I did not hook up with that chick. She turned out not to be the woman I’d hoped. Worst of all, she spoke ill of Mom's toast."
          Kaz interrupted his brother. "No no no, let us not curse her with words; she is not worth the energy. I have chosen instead to compose the song you heard me playing just now. It is a magical song, filled with an awesome power. This song will condemn Precious to make horrible toast for the rest of her life. She will complain of this to everyone who can stand listening to her, and everyone will simply say, 'Precious, that’s ridiculous. Everybody makes toast. Surely you can make toast too.' But try as she will, she will never ever again be able to make toast."
          "How about garlic bread?" his brother inquired.
          "No. It will always be soggy."
          "No, little brother, not even croutons."
          And with that, Kaz went back to finish composing the greatest, most magical song he had written to that point in his life. When he was done, and when he had woven the piece with a spell so potent that Precious would forever be rendered a toastmaking incompetent, he smiled and called his newest masterpiece "The Toastmaker's Revenge."

Mahalo for reading!

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