Yesterday's Magazette

3 – Little Winny

Little Winny The Conqueror

By E. P. Ned Burke

Prep school was a drag in 1959. When we were not studying Latin (Veni, Vidi, Vici!) we would search for ways to conquer the world and lessen the boredom. One particular night I was with my buddy, Boomer, in his parents’ basement. Also in attendance were Winny, Mooch, Froggy, and Ace.

“Where did your parents go this time, Boomer?” Mooch asked.

“Some newspaper conference in Binghamton. So partake of the free beer and butts.” Boomer raised his church key to another Rolling Rock and tossed the top into a nearby trash can.

He looked around, half-blind from the thick smoke in the basement.

“Who stole my Winstons?” he asked.

“Ace has them,” I said.

“You got my Winstons?” he asked Ace.

“Right on!” That’s all Ace ever uttered when asked a question.

After a few drags, Boomer decided to tell everyone about my prom date.

“Guess who Killer is taking to the prom, guys?”

Boomer thought I was a Lady “Killer” because I had actually dated three girls. That was two more than any of my nerd friends.

He didn’t wait for an answer. “None other than Angela Maroni,” he said with a big grin.

“You mean the waitress at the pizza place?” Froggy asked.

“That’s correct.” Boomer sounded like a proud daddy.

“Right on!” Ace was definitely impressed.

But I noticed Winny didn’t respond. He was a little guy with stringy blond hair who played chess and who had only talked to one female in his entire life, and that was his mother. He sat in the corner, sucking his beer through a straw.

“Hey, Winny, what’s with you?” I finally said to him.

He pulled his short legs up to his chin and mumbled, “Ah, nothin’.”

I reached down and messed up his hair.

“Stop that!” He looked as if he were going to cry. Too much beer did that to Winny sometimes. He played with his shoelaces, then said, “I’m not goin’ to the stinkin’ prom.”

“Why not?” I said.

“’Cause I can’t get anyone to go with me, okay? Now are you all happy?” He put his head between his legs and sobbed.

Boomer patted his shoulder. “Don’t worry, Winny. Killer will get you a date for the prom.” He turned to me with a fatherly expression on his kisser. “Won’t you, Killer?”

“Sure,” I said. I was full of confidence and beer. “No problemo.”

Winny took off his glasses and wiped his eyes with a neatly folded handkerchief. He looked up at me and pouted. “Where are you going to find someone?”

I remembered every Saturday night they held a dance at the CYC. I told Winny we’d all go there and I would pick out a girl and talk to her on his behalf.

Before he could object, we carried him up the stairs. Boomer raced into his kitchen and took a bottle of Royal Crown Cola from his fridge, emptied two-thirds of it into the sink, and then filled it back up with Scotch from his father’s liquor cabinet. He asked Winny if he had his straw and then he gave him the cola bottle.

“Sip on this, Winny. It’ll help you relax.”

Later, Boomer and I entered the CYC dance hall and left the rest of our preppy crew outside. Winny was cleaning off his glasses when Boomer nudged me. He pointed to a banner hanging over the dance floor: FROSH DANCE.

“These are freshmen chicks, for crying out loud,” he whispered in my ear.

I turned and snatched the glasses from Winny’s hand and shoved them into my shirt pocket.

“Smart move, Winny,” I said. “You look much better without your glasses.”

“Huh? But I can’t see.”

I stuck my head into Winny’s face. “Winny, did I ever tell you that you look just like James Dean without your glasses on.” I nudged Boomer who quickly backed me up.

“You really think so?” Winny said.

“Sure.” I pulled him over to a nearby soda machine. “Now, put your left hand in your pants pocket and lean against this soda machine, real cool-like.” He complied. “Wow! James Dean lives,” I said. “Now stay just like that and I’ll go get you a date.”

I hurried across the floor and approached a gaggle of young girls. “Hi!” I said. “I hope I’m not intruding, but my friend over there is a little shy and he needs a date. Would any of you ladies want to be escorted to the Prep Junior Prom?”

“The Junior Prom?” One of the girls was highly excited. She blushed.

“Boy, he’s really cute!”

Her friend added, “Yeah, I love a guy with a crew cut.”

I turned around and looked at Boomer and then turned back to the young teens.

“No, no, not him,” I said. Winny’s the one leaning against the soda machine.”

They studied Winny for a moment and then one of them said, “Is he sickly or something?”

The girls began to mumble amongst themselves. I asked if any of them liked to play chess. One of the girls said, “Willy likes chess.” She pointed to a dwarf-size teen about ten feet away. I walked over and introduced myself and told her the situation. She said her name was Willamena Witham, but her friends called her Willy.

I said she was a perfect height for Winny and walked her across the floor. We stopped about three feet from the soda machine. Winny was still grinning and doing his James Dean impression. I introduced them; there was some small talk, and then Willy said, “Of course, I’ll have to ask my mom first.”

“Of course,” I said to her. Winny just smiled dumbly.

“And I probably won’t be able to stay out after ten.”

“Sure.” Boomer and I nodded in unison.

“Well, do you want me to give you my phone number?” She spoke directly to the semiconscious lad holding up the soda machine.

I quickly pulled a pen and a piece of paper from my pocket. “I’ll write it down for Winny. He has terrible penmanship.” I got the number and she reached her hand out to Winny. He responded by casting his right arm toward her and nearly fell flat on his face. Luckily, Boomer caught him just in time. I smiled and said, “Some kids must have tied his shoelaces together.”

She giggled and I grabbed her hand and placed it into Winny’s damp palm.

“Okay,” she said. Then she turned and headed back to her giggling friends across the room.

Winny extracted his left hand from his pocket and flopped it up and down like a dying fish.

“Bye-Bye, Willy,” he said. “I think I love you.”

Willy turned and wrinkled her little brow, then scampered to her peers.

I took the nearly empty Royal Crown Cola bottle away from Winny and Boomer and I carried him out the door, telling him again and again what a stud he had proven to be.

“Wasn’t she just beautiful?” Winny said, with tears in his eyes.

“Yeah, a real doll,” I answered and gave him back his glasses.

Boomer spoke into my ear. “Well, she’s the size of one, anyway.”

We laughed and hoisted little Winny over our heads.

“To the basement for more beer!” Boomer shouted to our preppy crew.

With legs spread-eagled and both arms raised to the warm night sky, little Winny cried out triumphantly, “I came! I saw! I conquered!”

Vol. 39 – Copyright © Yesterday’s Magazette – 2012

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