Chapter Six: The World According to Leo
Leo was a boy who got right to the point. Taking a long drink from his glass, he stood up and did a back flip. Then, without any introduction, he said. "Muffin told me you guys are always arguing about who's better. Why?"
Bagel scratched his top and answered Leo's question with another question. "Don't you and your friends argue about stuff like that, too?" Muffin watched Leo, curious how he would reply.
Leo drank some more water. Muffin guessed he was stalling until he could think of a good answer. When he had finished drinking, the boy wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
"Well, Leo," Muffin said. "It looks like you weren't ready for that one."
"No problem-o," said Leo. "Here's my answer. You see, Mr. Bagel, sir ..."
"... Just call me 'Bagel,' " Bagel interrupted.
"You see, Bagel, of course some boys argue about who's better. Like who's a better soccer player, who's a better Math student, who's nicer, who's funnier. But those are little boys. I'm seven years old, so I don't get into those silly arguments, anymore. At least not very often. Besides, by now, we all know who's better. There's nothing to argue about."
This time it was Muffin who spoke up. "That may be fine for seven-year old boys, Leo. But baked goods ... childish baked goods, that is," (and he gave Bagel a dirty look) "do want to know. So just tell us which of us is better, so we can get this stupid argument over with, once and for all.
"Amen," said Bagel. "Give him the bad news, Leo."
"Okay," said Leo. He drank some more water, stood up, did another back flip, and sat back down. "But don't say I didn't warn you. 'Who's better?' you ask. Well, not to hurt anyone's feelings, but that's the dumbest question I ever heard. I mean, the answer is so obvious: Neither of you is better. It all depends. A sesame bagel with cream cheese? A buttered blueberry muffin? Assuming they've been properly baked and aren't stale, they're both completely delicious."
"But which do you like better, Leo?" Bagel persisted.
Although Muffin shook his head at Bagel's childishness, he, too, was curious.
"Both," said Leo. "If my parents said I could have either a bagel or a muffin for breakfast each day, with a glass of milk, of course, I'd just switch back and forth every other day. Plus, there's the matter of the person's own taste. Humans, like baked goods, are all different."
Bagel would still not give in. "But suppose we asked everyone in the world? Which do you think would win?"
"I have no idea," said Leo. "But if you want me to say which of you is better ... I don't really want to answer that, but if you insist." He cracked his knuckles.
"Go ahead," said Bagel, "give him the bad news."
"Okay," Leo said slowly, and Muffin guessed that, this time, he was delaying his answer not because he was not ready, but to create suspense. " 'Who's better?' he shouted. 'The first one of you who understands what a stupid question that is, and stops asking it, is better."
"Ha!" said Muffin. "That's me! Right, Bagel? I keep telling you to stop, but you won't."
Bagel looked as if he were about to cry. "You don't stop, either," he pouted. "And Leo only said that because he's your friend. His answer doesn't count. I bet he doesn't even believe what he said."
Leo's face grew as red as an angry lobster. "You've got me there, Bagel. You're right, I made it all up. Fine! Should I give you my real opinion now about the best baked good, you ..?"
Bagel and Muffin both nodded, but they both looked worried.
"Crullers!" Leo shouted, hopping around as he spoke. "The best baked good in the whole world is crullers! And doughnuts. And cupcakes. And cro-nuts. Croissants. Rolls. Cake. And ... and ... and bread. The 'best' baked goods are everything except bagels and muffins. You want to know why that is, you dopes? Because if there's anything that makes a baked good taste like a baked bad, it's a stupid argument. Try eating anything in the middle of an argument. Even your favorite food, whatever it is, will taste yuckeroo. There's nothing like an argument to ruin the taste of food."
And with that, Leo ran from the room without even saying goodbye. Slouching down in their armchairs, Muffin and Bagel heard the door slam. Then, they looked across at each other for a long time without saying a word. They were finally united -- in embarrassment.
Article © Leo Siegel and Ron Singer. All rights reserved.
Published on 2020-01-06
Image(s) © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.