The San Francisco Globe recently pubbed an old story that also made its rounds back in the day when people shared gags and stories via email rather than social media.* As you may have gleaned from the title of this post, the old story is called “A Shoebox Full of Money.”
It’s a good tale–one, that in these trying times of rants and raves, protests and pissing contests, just might be a little balm for soul. Especially when a Shoebox Full of Money meets a big old Turd in a Box.
Because parenting boys is not for the faint hearted.
As per usual, this happened on a morning I was running late in getting myself and my three boys up and ready for work, school and daycare respectively. Because as any mother knows, the shit is always going to hit the fan on days when you are running late…
And so, I was drying my hair at my vanity when middle son, Kris, then in elementary school walked in my room. “Something really stinks in my room,” he complained.
Well, given that the two youngest boys shared a small room, that was more likely than not, so I shrugged it off and kept drying my hair.
A few minutes later, Kris returned to my room. “Mom, I got Jakob up and in the shower. And guess what? I found out what is stinking up the room.”
Again, no big surprise to me and no great sense of urgency either. I was trying to get my hair up into a decent bun that would survive another day of teaching English to restless and jaded seniors–the hairstyle had to survive my eight-hour variety show of singing, dancing, monologues and multi-media entertaining required to entice students to learn these days. (The Millennials might be more aptly named the Media-Zombies–but that’s the fodder of another post, another day.)
Kris was unrelenting. “Mom, come on. You’ve got to come see. You won’t believe it.”
And so, because my middle son has always been the most responsible, I shoved the hair clip into the bun with finality, and then followed him to his room.
And there is was. On the floor. Alongside the bottom bunk bed. The source of infection. And yes, it stunk.
It was the biggest turd I ever saw.
Now mind you, at the time, we had no dog. It was quite clear to me who birthed the absolute lamb’s leg of turd that besmirched the white carpet.
Ever looked at one of your tiny children and wondered how they managed to produce (let alone harvest) such a massive volume of excrement from their skinny little tummies? The girth alone would probably rip a grown man asunder.
And so, I formed a hypothesis. Little Mister Anal Retentive couldn’t shit this thing out while awake. His body expelled it while he was completely relaxed and sleeping. It just slipped out from his loose boxers and hit the floor when he got out of bed to stumble half-asleep toward the bathroom under the supervision of his older brother.
But now the question was, What in the hell was I going to do with this turd? Especially right now? We were already running late.
In my household, I am not the one who cleans up these things. My husband cleans toilets, deals with vomit, etc. (Hell, when he was a kid at a small Catholic school, he was actually called to the office to clean up vomit when the custodian was absent–I still wonder if his folks got a break on their tuition bill in exchange for this service.)
And, of course, my husband was at work and would not be home for at least ten hours. I had to do something with this turd or the whole house would stink of its fermentation by the time I returned home from work and school with the kids.
I paced into my room and spotted my weekend purchase. New shoes. Still in the shoebox. And I knew what to do. Necessity, after all, is the mother of invention.
I used the lid of the box to roll the turd into its coffin and sealed it up. (This thing wouldn’t have fit down the toilet.) Paul could decide what to do with it when he got home.
And so, off we went to work and school. Later that day, I checked my personal email during my twenty-minute lunch. And there was the story of “A Shoebox Full of Money” forwarded to me by my husband along with a romantic message about our marriage.
The quick and dirty version of the tale goes like this:
An elderly couple had been married for many years. They shared a wonderful life together and had no secrets–except for one. The old woman told her husband to never look inside the shoebox she kept on her closet shelf. Of course, the man was curious, but he loved his wife, so he never looked in the box.
Then the woman became terminally ill. The man had to put her affairs in order, so he had to look in the box. Inside it, he was surprised to find two crocheted dolls and $95,000. He asked his wife what it all meant.
Weary but ready to tell, the woman explained that when they were first married, her grandmother told her that if she ever got angry with her new husband, she should keep quiet and just crochet a doll. This would ensure a happy marriage.
The man was touched to see there were only two dolls–she had only been angry with him twice in their very long marriage. “But I’m confused about all this money?” he asked. “Where did it all come from?”
The old woman replied, “I earned the money from selling all the dolls I made.”
And so, I emailed my husband back:
That’s such a romantic story, Paul. I love you so much.
I, too, have a special shoebox just for you. But I won’t make you wait until I’m old and dying. You can open it tonight. XOXO
When my husband returned home from work that night, I brought the shoebox down to the kitchen. All three children and my father (who lived with us) gathered round as I recounted the story of the old woman and the shoebox full of money and how romantic it was that my husband had sent the story to me.
Then I handed my husband the special shoebox. Curious by the weight of the box, he shook it back and forth, but could not discern its contents.
And then he opened it.
I’m not sure what was louder: the sound of five of us gagging from the stench and running from the room, or my husband’s booming laughter.