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  • Writer's pictureDave Freedman


Updated: Dec 3, 2020

Flash fiction by David M. Freedman

The waiter served ice cream to each guest and placed a big revolving tray of sundae toppings in the middle of the table.

President Kennedy smiled and said to the Russian premier on his right, “Ah, my favorite: ice cream sundae. How to you say ‘sundae’ in Russian?”

At that moment, Mrs. Kennedy got up and, speaking excitedly in French, joined acquaintances at the next table.

Voskresyenye,” replied Premier Kruschev, and repeated the word slowly.

Kennedy heaped butterscotch sauce over one scoop in his bowl, reached for the chocolate sauce and heaped it over the other scoop. His tongue barely peaked through his lips. He considered Kruschev’s reply and he smiled again. “Oh, voskresyenye – no, no, that means Sunday, the day after Saturday. How do you say this in Russian?” and he waved his hand toward the ice cream topping tray, then at his own bowl.

To his left, into the chair vacated by his wife slipped Mrs. Alexeyev, wife of the Russian ambassador to France. While pretending to listen to the conversation taking place to her left, she surreptitiously slid her right hand under the tablecloth and along the President’s thigh.

Kennedy’s eyes widened suddenly and he glanced quickly to his left. Trying to stay composed, he shoveled a spoonful of crushed walnuts across the top of his ice cream.

Kruschev noticed that Kennedy’s hand appeared to shake the nuts jerkily, and he gave the President a quizzical look.

“Indigestion,” Kennedy said. “The damned Polish sausage.” He saw the Polish ambassador shoot a perky glance in his direction. “No offense,” Kennedy assured him.

Kruschev rolled his eyes skyward for an instant, then pursued the matter at hand. Struggling with his English, he asked, “You Americans eat zis dessert only on Sunday?”

“No, I’m sorry to confuse you,” Kennedy said, now ladling a generous amount of whipped cream onto the concoction before him. All at once he sat up straight and closed his eyes for two seconds, forcing a grimace to disguise his pleasure.

“Maybe ze Bordeaux give you gas pain,” Kruschev said, arching his eyebrows slyly. And to a gentleman at the next table he added, “Nothing personal.”

Kennedy covered his face with both hands, pretending to rub his eyes. “Uh, sundae: S-U-N-D-A-E,” he spelled, emphasizing the last letter. “Is there a Russian word for—nnnh—for this?” again waving his hand toward the toppings.

Kruschev looked at him intently. “You are ill, Mr. President?”

At this point, Kennedy knocked the bowl of ice cream and toppings onto his lap. “Oh, my goodness, please excuse me!” he said as he pushed away from the table, placed his napkin over his midsection, and hurried out of the room.

Before Kruschev could recover from the scene, Mrs. Alexeyev scooted over beside him and said (in Russian), “Comrade, so nice to see you again.” After a few more pleasantries she too left the room.

© 1991 David M. Freedman

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