Friday, March 9, 2012


Mrs. Rafina Draminsky
In the following anecdote I am introducing the feisty (but hopefully lovable) protagonist in the only novel I ever managed to complete. Mrs. Rafina Draminsky is hopelessly and relentlessly confrontational, mainly because she feels passionately about justice and about the people whom she loves.

When Mrs. Rafina Draminsky retired from her job as Orientation and Mobility Instructor for children and teenagers with disabilities, Benny Gympoli was the only student she continued to see on a regular basis. This job provided her with what she called "frivol money" but that wasn't the main reason she held onto it. The main reason was Benny Gympoli himself. An eager five-year-old in a twenty-year-old's body, Benny believed that, everyday of his life, something delightful and entertaining was sure to spring up in his path.

Benny Gympoli
 Today Benny and his mentor were on their way to a store called Earth's Bounty where Benny would practice his shopping skills. 

Ordinarily Earth's Bounty would not have been Mrs. Rafina Draminsky's first choice. It was an elite food market promoting exotic natural and organic foods including Ancient Mayan Multimush cereal bars at thirty dollars for a box of twelve. The store also sold genuine Pomo Indian gift baskets and hand-carved wooden salad utensils made by a tribe in the Peruvian Amazon whose members probably had no use for them. In Mrs. Rafina Draminsky's opinion it was a place where the rich could feel virtuous and nutritionally fortified. The latter were, she  believed, trying to form themselves into a master race of collagen-enhanced, vitamin-enriched Methuselahs, which, of course, was nothing new.

 "You're prejudiced, Mom," one or the other of Mrs. Rafina Draminsky's daughters always said, to which accusation Mrs. Rafina Draminsky merely shrugged.

Earth's Bounty had been selected for Benny's lesson because of a particular checker (guaranteed to be working there today) who was willing to devote time and endless patience while Benny slowly and painstakingly counted out the correct sum of money to pay for his few groceries. Connie Gympoli, Benny's mother, provided the needed cash and didn't appear to grudge the inflated prices.

"Or-GAN-ic ba-NAN-as," Benny sang out (he was a spontaneous soloist) as Mrs. Rafina Draminsky maneuvered her twenty-year-old Toyota Previa into one of the two available parking spaces designed, quite obviously, for vehicles smaller than a mini-van.

Mrs. Rafina Draminsky noted that to the left of her was a gleaming maroon-colored Mercedes Benz. "Be careful with the door, Benny," she warned. Her warning had the effect of Benny's lightly flinging the door open with his hand instead of kicking it open vigorously with his foot. Hence the door of the Previa made gentle contact with the door of the Mercedes.

Then all hell broke loose...

"Your touched my car!: A man in black Spandex shorts and a Stanford University sweatshirt proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs. He was small and muscular with thinning dark hair that clearly resisted any attempt at grooming.  The tawny color of his face was now splotched red with exploding capillaries, and his obsidian, shoe-button eyes appeared to be throwing off sparks. "You touched my car; I can't believe it; you touched my car." Mrs. Rafina Draminsky thought he sounded like an eight-year-old in the throes of a playground tantrum.

Benny was staring at the man in consternation. "Sorry, sorry, sorry," he hissed over and over. It sounded like a mantra for a steam engine. Mrs. Rafina Draminsky got out of the car and, glancing at the point of impact, determined that, if indeed there was a scratch, it was microscopic. She planted herself directly in front of the self-styled victim, arms akimbo. "Are you through with your tirade?" she demanded.

"I can't believe it, I can't believe it," the man continued to emote aloud.

"I SAID," Mrs. Rafina Draminsky repeated, "ARE YOU THROUGH WITH YOUR TIRADE?" The man paused for a moment. "Because if you ARE through," Mrs. Rafina Draminsky continued, "You need to apologize to my friend, Benny, here for making a mountain out of a mole hill at the expense of his sensibilities."

"Making a...HE SCRATCHED MY CAR!" the man shouted.

"He most certainly DID NOT scratch it and, even if he had, a car is constructed in order to take you from one place to another. If yours is a work of art, then you need to park it in a museum." And with that Mrs. Rafina Draminky turned her back on the volatile gentleman.

"Come on, nothing to worry about," she said authoritatively. She held the passenger door open just wide enough to extract a trembling Benny.

As she guided her mentee across the parking lot toward Earth's Bounty, she noted that the man had begun accosting various customers to discover if anyone had a pair of magnification glasses.

At the entrance to the store, Benny Gympoli turned around to stare for a moment, his fear having yielded to curiosity. "Ms. D," he said, "that man looks kind of like a pepperoni screamer monkey."

Mrs. Rafina Draminsky who had always rejoiced in the fact that the damage to Benny's brain had not extended to his imagination, paused for a moment then said, "Benny, you're absolutely right. Now let's see about those groceries."


  1. Very good characters! I wish I could respond so fast to someone so rude. Usually, I just stare and sputter and say something nonsensical. I can't wait to read more! (Now let's see if I can post this!)

    1. Thanks. I make Rafina say and do many of the things I wish I'd said and done. Most of the time, like you, I sputter nonsensically.

  2. Great scene, Bronwyn! Love the way she reacted. This novel sounds intriguing--hope we get to read more of it!

  3. PS: Oh, and I love the illustrations, too!

    1. Thanks, Elaine. I'm always afraid people will find Rafina a bit over the top since she doesn't shirk from confrontation. I'm thrilled you like the illustrations. I'm trying to teach myself how to cartoon and much of the time my hand wont obey my brain.

  4. Oh, I loved this! I especially loved how she was described by her full name at all times because she is A Teacher. :)

    1. I think I got the idea of using her full name from Alexander McCall Smith's Botswana mysteries starring Mma Romatswe. Glad you liked.

  5. This is awesome! I felt like I was right there during the telling off.LOL

    Brilliant job!!


  6. Thanks, Kathy. Unlike me, Rafina is never at a loss for something to say.

  7. I still love this story! I want to hear the remaining ones you wrote when you will read them to us.

    1. Thanks, Mike. I'll dig the others out of my folder and read them to you guys some evening.

  8. I lovity-love-love Mrs. Rafina Draminsky!