I blame the falafel baby for how the twins ended up becoming Hundredaires.
The ChickieNob suggested that we get lunch at a falafel stand; the sort of place that makes you moan with eat bite, “this is soooooooooo good.” Which meant that I overate, still taking bites when I was full, until I pushed back the chair and announced that I had a little falafel baby in my belly. It felt and looked as if I had the first questions of a pregnancy bump.
We talked about the falafel baby, how it is the easiest baby: one that doesn’t kick or make me ill and will not require a very painful delivery. The falafel baby will not wake me up in the night or need a bottle or want a diaper change. We were laughing, but as we were talking about it, I got sadder and sadder, thinking about how that’s all I will have in my body: a baby made out of ground up chickpeas.
Days earlier, my sister and I had been talking about a pin I once owned that had a moving part — a Halloween mask — that swung on and off the metal girl’s face. I tore apart my room, trying to find the pin, and in doing so, ripped through a bag of spare change. I swept all the loose coins out of my drawers and placed them in an enormous Tupperware container, the kind that could hold a pound of cooked pasta. I filled it to the top. And then I couldn’t move it. I shoved it out of the way and thought that I’d deal with it later.
We finished errands after our falafel lunch, and the twins kept bringing up the garbanzo bean baby. To get them off the topic of the non-baby in my stomach, as we crossed the parking lot, I asked them if they wanted to buy a treasure map from me for $5 each. If it led to treasure, they could split it. If it led nowhere, they were out $5 each. This — by the way — was not a well-thought-out plan. It was unfolding as I spoke it.
The ChickieNob, always up for an adventure, immediately said yes. But her brother was more cautious. He really struggled with the offer, trying to make a few counter offers in return: lower the price, refund the money, show them the treasure map prior to purchase. Nope, I said. Either you trust me that it’s a good treasure map, or you don’t.
My father had made a similar deal with me when I was their age. Give him our allowance and my sister and I could have the contents of the coffee can. We weren’t allowed to pick up the can or look in the can, it was just a leap of faith. Did we trust him or not? My sister took the bet immediately. I really agonized over the decision until it was time to give him a final answer, but finally handed over my allowance so I wouldn’t be left out.
When we went in the house, the kids went to count their money in order to make their decision, lingering by my room to get a read on the situation. “Mum has her tricksie glint,” the ChickieNob told him, agreeing that I could be teasing them, “but I’m going to do it.”
I told them that I needed to change, and then I locked my door and quickly scrawled out the WORST treasure map of all time. Unfortunately, I only had one piece of paper, so even though the map was unintelligible, I had to spruce it up since I couldn’t start over. I wrote Ye Ancient Treasure Map across the top, and scrawled half of a “poem” in the corner: this is a place to rest your head, the treasure lies underneath the b–. I left the final word as a squiggle to extend the treasure hunt by a good five seconds and kicked the Tupperware container under my bed.
With a great deal of trepidation, they gave me $10 and took my paper. Their faces fell when they sank down onto the floor to look at it together. “This isn’t an ancient treasure map!” the Wolvog accused.
“It is! Look, it says so at the top. Ye Ancient Treasure Map.”
“You wrote that! You wrote this just now in your room.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I sniffed. “It’s super old. Are you going to look for the treasure or not?”
“I thought we were going to go into the mountains. With shovels,” the ChickieNob admitted.
“Well, are you going to read that very difficult poetic clue and find this treasure or not?”
The Wolvog read it aloud, filling in the missing word, and then raced to look under the various beds until he found the Tupperware box. “Is this it? I have never seen so much money in my life.”
“So you gave me $5 and you probably made about $100. You just instantly became a Hundredaire.”
Which is like a millionaire. Except you only have $100.
They were dumbfounded by their luck, that they had just found about $200 — mostly in quarters and dimes. We separated the non-US money from the rest (there were a large chunk of Italian lire, inexplicable Barbados currency, and of course Canadian coins) and then made separate bags of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies.
The rest of the day, they kept talking about how they became Hundredaires; completely amazed by their luck (and, in turn, forgetting completely to ask about the falafel baby until the ChickieNo returned to the topic at bedtime). I reminded them of two things, the first something my father told me when he made me that offer that banked my sister and I $88 each, and a second thing that I hope they always remember when they are having a terrible day.
Like my father, I will never trick them; at least, not a cruel way. I may tease them incessantly and have a tricksie glint in my eye, but where it counts, I will never lie or do anything other than have their back.
And secondly, no matter how bleak things look, there is always the possibility that something is going to come along that you cannot predict and change your luck for the better. When they woke up that morning, they had no clue they were going to be spending the night looking at a 16 ounce container of glittery coins.
…to be continued.