Welcome to the Chubby Chatterbox Newsletter, where I’ll be posting favorites from the Chubby Chatterbox archives. In addition, my complete thriller Return of the Mary Celeste will soon be serialized here for those who have asked for something beyond a regular post.

My novel is based on a true event, arguably the greatest maritime mystery of all time. In 1872 the crew and passengers of Boston brigantine Mary Celeste abandoned their seaworthy ship and its valuable cargo, vanishing in the middle of the Atlantic. Speculation over their fate has never abated. History records that after the Mary Celeste tragedy no one from that fateful voyage was ever seen again. History is about to be rewritten…

Return of the Mary Celeste

Prologue

Tragedy struck the brigantine Mary Celeste on the morning of November 25, 1872. The hourly log was later recovered from the deserted vessel; At 8 a.m. the last notation was made. By 9 a.m. no one remained aboard to chalk the next entry.

Something had terrified Captain Benjamin Briggs and his crew, prompting the seasoned skipper to make a decision certain to affect not only himself, his ship and crew, but his family as well—his wife and two year old daughter were aboard Mary Celeste. Much ink has been spilled in fanciful and scientific attempts to explain the calamity that engulfed this perfectly seaworthy ship, yet all that is known for certain is this: in a matter of minutes Captain Briggs became convinced that the only way to save their lives was by ordering everyone into a hastily launched lifeboat. By giving the order to abandon ship, he also launched the greatest of all maritime mysteries.

On December 5, 1872, a month after leaving New York Harbor, Mary Celeste was found drifting on a calm and empty sea. The ship was in fine condition, perfectly intact with valuable cargo safely stored in her hold, but the crew and passengers had vanished. None were ever seen again.

Until now….

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In the Dog House

August 3, 2015

Dear readers, I’m in the dog house at Casa Chatterbox, and I know you’ll tell me if this is where I belong. I made the mistake of laughing at my wife, but before you judge me too harshly, hear me out.

           

On Friday we invited our son CJ to dinner. It’s been pushing a hundred degrees in Portland, and aside from a home cooked meal we figured he’d enjoy an evening in air-conditioning. While we ate ( Mrs. Chatterbox made wedge salads and a delicious beef Stroganoff) the subject of CJ’s new job came up. CJ has moved from Police Records to the Shop, where he fulfils his automotive passion by working on squad cars, motorcycles and countless other city vehicles. He mentioned how much he liked his new job, although another new hire, a fellow from Guatemala, is more popular.

           

Mrs. Chatterbox wanted to know why this fellow was more popular. CJ explained that this coworker was extremely likeable, and it didn’t hurt that he often brought in homemade tamales for the crew. Mrs. Chatterbox got her panties in a bunch and said that the next time the guys had a potluck, CJ should bring something.

           

“Guys don’t have potlucks,” CJ snorted. “At least not straight guys. Certainly not men working in automotive shops.”

           

“I don’t see why not,” Mrs. Chatterbox countered. “I know you don’t cook, but I could make something for you to bring in for the boys.”

CJ and I rolled our eyes.

“You’re really enjoying this beef Stroganoff,” she said. “I could make some for you to bring to the shop.”

This was when I burst out laughing, imagining the guys, in overalls with their hands covered in grease, eating beef Stroganoff on the hydraulic lift in the shop. “Like CJ said, guys don’t have potlucks! And if they did, they’d bring chips or donuts; they wouldn’t bring beef Stroganoff.” I added, “Dear God, what would they eat it on?”

In a rare lapse of consideration, I failed to spot anger building in my wife’s eyes.

“How do they eat tamales?” she spat out.

CJ, laughing along with me, answered, “They pick ‘em up and eat them out of their hands.”

I couldn’t stop myself. “Would CJ need to bring in china and flatware, crystal goblets for a proper red wine to accompany the meal? Would he rough chop some parsley to add a bright flavor and a pop of color to feed the eyes as well as the tummy?” (I really need to stop watching so many cooking shows.)

So here I am in the dog house for mocking a wife who only wanted to help her son be more popular at work. Without air-conditioning, it’s hot in here, and lonely. I’m also hungry. I know there’s leftover beef Stroganoff in the fridge, but I know better than to creep inside with my tail between my legs and help myself to it.

On second thought, you don’t need to decide if I belong here. I can answer that question myself. I do belong here.

 

 

 

 

When was the last time you were in the dog house?

 

 

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Comments

27 Comments
Maybe you could make a peace offering of tamales?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on August 3, 2015
The dog days of summer are upon us. Is there a local air conditioned dog pound where you can grab a bite to eat?
By: Daniel LaFrance on August 3, 2015
I am sure your time out in the dog house must have expired by now? Even tho you and CJ made fun of Mrs C...I am sure she has conceded by now that it was pretty funny!
By: Kathe W. on August 3, 2015
My middle son was in an electrician apprenticeship and I sent pies to the job...so, you don't get all the sympathy you need from me for this one. But, that said, I live in a house full of men. I totally get it. My stroganoff is killer, by the way...
By: Cherdo on August 3, 2015
I thought you were old enough to know by now that they are much better ways of proving your manly manliness.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on August 3, 2015
I was always in the doghouse with my mother. She would go days without talking to me. Now that I am an adult, I would rather be me than her as carrying that anger is exhausting. You will get out soon.
By: Tabor on August 3, 2015
That's the good thing about living alone. Although I guess I make myself mad once in a while. And I can't get away from myself when I do.
By: Katy Anders on August 3, 2015
The laugh wasn't so bad, but then you piled on! You should know better. I'll bet a straight out sincere apology would get you out. Probably you've already done so, you are after all a veteran.
By: cranky on August 3, 2015
Sit!! Stay!!
By: fishducky on August 3, 2015
Oh, boy, you really know how to get yourself in trouble. But you'll be granted house privileges in time. Just be patient and try not to bark too loudly!
By: Catalyst on August 3, 2015
Oh you silly man! I recommend jewelry :)
By: The Bug on August 3, 2015
We can never be sure of those "trigger points" can we? It would do all of us dads to remember that a "mother's instinct " is one of the powerful forces of nature. Get on the wrong side of that and look out!
By: Tom Cochrun on August 3, 2015
You'll be lucky to get someone to throw you a tamale bone after that outburst!
By: Val on August 3, 2015
I think your wife had an excellent idea. We have potlucks at my work and there are plenty of straight men that attend. I can make some wonderful chicken enchiladas. My friend James makes killer Jambalaya soup. Also, it's so strange to imagine Portland at 100 degrees. It has been in the sixties here in the desert (Salt Lake City). And it's been raining all day. Climate change indeed!
By: Michael Offutt on August 3, 2015
Ah you just kept right on walking down that path of destruction oblivious of the signs:)) CJ was lucky, he got to go home. Hang in there, surely she will bring you in soon.
By: Akansas Patti on August 3, 2015
This is hysterical Stephen. I love how you're sending flowers from the doghouse!
By: Bouncin Barb on August 3, 2015
Yikes...100 degrees in an unconditioned dog house...but I think you deserved it (for a short time). Luckily, my husband doesn't know how any of the appliances in this house, so he can't send me to the dog house. Of course, I don't know how to turn on the TV, so I can't send him to the dog house, either. I guess we have to be diplomatic with each other...
By: Pixel Peeper on August 3, 2015
No dog house here but there is a cardboard box in the alley! It's a little cold in the winter! I do spend a lot of time there.
By: red on August 3, 2015
No doghouse, just a cat bed. Actually, it's supposed to be our bed, but the cats claim most of it.
By: mimi on August 3, 2015
You definitely pushed it a little too much. But you're right that straight guys, especially macho auto mechanics, don't bring in food unless it's something equally macho like donuts or nachos. If you want to win their love beer would probably be the best bet, though that's probably not allowed.
By: PT Dilloway on August 3, 2015
Your points may have been well taken, but your delivery left something to be desired. Yes, you should be in the doghouse, and you better do something real nice for her. She was honestly trying to help.
By: Lexa Cain on August 4, 2015
I know Larry the Cable Guy is no literary poet but to quote him....that's funny right there that is. No comment about the dog house. LOL
By: Beckie on August 4, 2015
Oh dear...............I thing some serious grovelling may help.
By: John on August 4, 2015
well, you did go a little far. laughing is OK, mocking is not.
By: ellen abbott on August 4, 2015
Oh, my! Well, yes, you definitely made the dog house... Perhaps she could make wraps or something, instead. But I think I might go with the majority, flowers or jewelry. And perhaps a bit of groveling. Cat
By: Cat on August 4, 2015
What was it that TV shrink said? "Do you want to be happy, or do you want to be right?" Great advice....some day I should learn to heed it. You too. :)
By: Scott Park on August 4, 2015
Yep, I would've sent you there just as fast. The sarcastic litany didn't help. But you know this. I live alone, and I'm both a best-selling author in my household and one who is never sent to the dog-house. Not to brag. PS Coincidentally, I ate tamales for lunch for a fork too. I don't like to miss any of the yummy corn insides.
By: Robyn Engel on August 4, 2015

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