That night Susie made a special roast for dinner. Jim was given the
place of honour at the head of the table because he was leaving the next
morning. The meal was splendid, almost a party. When the table was cleared,
Max brought out a bottle of wine.
"Go up and get Ellie," he told Katie, "And Gale, too."
Max was just pulling the cork when Katie returned with the guests. They
sat on either side of Max. When he had poured the wine, Max raised his glass
and everyone else did the same.
"And now for a toast," he told them. "To my only son
on the eve of his departure for the wilds of Victoria. His first summer
away from home and he's going to make himself a lot of money. We're all
very proud of the way he got a job at the hotel there and I'm glad to say
that he's saving most of what he makes to pay his university fees. He's
really growing up! Here's to Jim and his job."
Everybody cheered and drank to the toast. Then they put down their glasses
and started talking to each other again. Everyone except Katie, that is.
She was too busy watching Max.
Max was joking around with Gale, and Katie wasn't exactly pleased about
"It isn't fair," she thought. "He never jokes around
with me that way." The fact that Gale was her best friend didn't matter.
Max was the only parent Katie had and she didn't want to share him with
anyone, even her best friend.
When everyone had finished their first glass of wine, Max poured another
round. Then he winked at Gale and raised his glass again. "And now
a toast to Gale," he announced. "I guess you all know how I feel
about Gale. She's one of the finest young ladies in all of Vancouver."
Gale blushed. Katie wrinkled her nose in disgust.
"So this toast is for Gale," continued Max. "She's already
beautiful and smart so all we can do is wish her riches. Here's to fame
and fortune, then."
Everyone drank to Gale. Even Katie. She didn't want to be rude. Then
Jim tapped his glass with a spoon and called for a toast to Max. They raised
"To the best father in the room," said Jim solemnly.
"He's the only father in the room," observed Susie.
"And therefore the best," finished Jim. "He's big and
"Fat," chimed in Susie. Everyone laughed.
"Big," corrected Jim. "You can't say anything bad in
a toast even if it is the truth. Now where was I? Oh yes. He's big and not
as ugly as you might think at first glance. He doesn't hit us with hammers
or baseball bats and what else? Well it doesn't matter what else, he's the
only father we've got, so what choice do we have? He makes a lot of money
with his cab and he pays for things so we might as well just drink to his
health and be done with it." Everyone cheered and toasted Max.
When they were done, Max tapped his glass with a spoon.
"Now a toast for Susie," he announced loudly.
"Oh-oh," said Susie and everyone laughed and clapped.
"A toast to the fair Susie," said Max. "The oldest of
my children and therefore the wisest. She can drive a cab with the best
of them and she hasn't lost a fare yet. She's earning her way through university,
and no doubt will make thousands and thousands someday, and support me in
my old age. To Susie!"
They all drank to Susie, but Max wasn't finished toasting yet. He raised
his glass again and cleared his throat. "To Ellie," he said, "let
us not forget her. She's our lovely landlady, built-in baby-sitter and general
all-around-wonderful-person. She has helped us through hard times and unexpected
garage bills. She's always been there when we needed her. To a woman a man
can really admire."
Everyone drank to Ellie, draining their glasses. Katie was careful to
leave a little bit because she knew there was one more toast to come. At
least she thought there was. But no one else seemed to remember it. They
were all just talking again and after a few minutes she realized that no
one was planning another toast. Katie picked up a spoon and clinked her
"There's one more toast coming," she told them.
"But we've done everybody," said Max. "Jim, Susie, Gale,
Ellie, even one for me and ... oh-oh." He closed his eyes. He realized
who they had left out and so did everyone else.
"We forgot Katie," said Jim.
"Poor Katie," said Ellie.
"A toast for Katie," called out Gale.
"Toast her now," agreed Susie.
"Most certainly," said Max and he raised his empty wine glass.
"There's no wine left but no matter. It's the thought that counts.
Now, what to say about Katydid?" He paused for a moment but he couldn't
think of anything to say. He looked helplessly at the others but nobody
else seemed to have any ideas either. There was an embarrassing silence.
"Well, she's the youngest," said Max finally. "Let's
drink to that. To Katie - the last, but not the least."
Everyone raised their empty glasses. Katie did too, but she wasn't very
happy with the toast. She felt like the last and the least.