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


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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Mrs. Chatterbox's Rainbow

January 14, 2015

First posted Feb, 2012


Mrs. Chatterbox and I married shortly after graduating from college, she with an English degree from Santa Clara University and me with an art degree from UCLA. We settled in a 1930s duplex in West LA. I continued to hang out with my artsy college friends and tried to break into the Los Angeles art scene. Mrs. C. and I frequented numerous parties and artistic events, referred to back then as happenings. Heated discussions about modern art and politics were commonplace.


Mrs. C. was not comfortable with the freaky nonconformists frequenting these events but she was an amazingly good sport, even when a stoned poetess pointed at her and loudly barked, “Who brought Tricia Nixon to the party?”


Once at a late night gathering in Venice, California—an artistic community designed in the early 1900s to resemble the famous Italian city—our host noticed that my wife didn’t appear to be having a good time. Pot and liquor were in abundance, but Mrs. C. wasn’t interested. She brightened up when offered a small glass of sherry. Mrs. C., not a drinker, loved the sherry…too much. After five or six glasses she dashed outside and puked in one of the canals.


I remember watching little fish in the black water gobbling up my wife’s dinner as I held her so she wouldn’t tumble into the canal. The moon was out and silver tears glinted on her cheeks. “I wish I could be artistic like your friends,” she said. “I feel so out of place, so square and boring.”


She was the least boring person I knew and I did my best to comfort her. She had amazing business skills, as well as a facility with English literature and foreign languages, and she could cook like Julia Child. I managed to cheer her up, and in the following days I forgot the incident.


One Saturday evening I came home from my job at a Santa Monica art gallery to find my wife in the kitchen stirring a big pot on the stove. I tried to imagine the savory meal she was preparing. When she turned her back to the stove I grabbed a spoon and dipped it into the bubbling pot. I had no idea what was in it, but the last thing I expected to find was my…underwear.


“What the heck?” I said.


She turned around and looked at me, smiling. “Come, I want to show you something.” She took me by the hand, led me to our bedroom and pulled open my underwear drawer. My mouth dropped open at the sight of a rainbow. My tighty whities were all neatly folded and carefully stacked as usual, but they were no longer white. They were red and blue and yellow and purple and green and violet.


“Your friends aren’t the only artistic ones,” she said. “Today while you were at work, I tie dyed all your underwear.” She looked tremendously pleased with herself.


Forty years have passed but I still remember scooping her up in my arms, determined to do whatever it took to never lose her.




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She sounds like 'the best' to me! Lucky lucky you!
By: The Broad on January 14, 2015
I don't know a lot about art, but I know all "Artsy" people don't know much about it either, they just know the language. And Trisha Nixon was hot back in the day! OK, maybe not hot, but she could have been if she tried.
By: Cranky on January 14, 2015
Oops, I almost forgot...That is a very funny story!
By: Cranky on January 14, 2015
There was never any doubt in my mind and many others that your better half is a wonderful person, wife, confidant, friend, lover etc. But now you took us all to your underwear drawer... and we now know you wear briefs. :D
By: Daniel LaFrance on January 14, 2015
you perfectly compliment each other. :)
By: TexWisGirl on January 14, 2015
Did NOT see this coming. I figured she was tye-dying drapes...but underwear. That IS creative thinking. Did it change your sex life? ;-)
By: Tabor on January 14, 2015
Good for her! And good for you both, that you have each other.
By: mimi on January 14, 2015
what a very cool thing to do! And you were and are a very lucky man to have captured Mrs C!!!
By: Kathe W. on January 14, 2015
I LOVE Mrs. C!
By: Mitchell is Moving on January 14, 2015
I thought you were going to say 40 years have passed and you still have the tie dyed underwear! :D
By: LL Cool Joe on January 14, 2015
That was a funny but really sweet story. You really did a great job catching that lady.
By: Akansas Patti on January 14, 2015
I remember this post, but not the Tricia Nixon comment. I recall that Tricia Nixon was very pretty. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on January 14, 2015
Your wife is one cool lady! You are probably the only guy with rainbow colored shorts.
By: red on January 14, 2015
Nothing says love like a boiling pot of rainbow tie dyed tighty whities.
By: Robyn Engel on January 14, 2015
I think I'm in love with your wife!!
By: fishducky on January 14, 2015
Looks like you found your gold beside the pot at your end's rainbow.
By: Val on January 14, 2015
This melted me. You and Mrs. C are very lucky to have one another.
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on January 14, 2015
Love it!
By: John on January 15, 2015
A lovely, feel-good story that demonstrates the deep bond between you and Mrs C.
By: Bryan Jones on January 15, 2015
Your last line made me tear up. The rest of the story made me smile. Your Mrs. C is a gem.
By: Hilary on January 15, 2015
Usually this tends to happen in movies. You are lucky you found this in real life!
By: Pixel Peeper on January 15, 2015
Lovely story. I found a lot of the "arty" types where I attended college were a lot less interesting than they liked to think they were :) Glad you have the humanity and the humor to appreciate and look after each other.
By: Botanist on January 15, 2015
I was a hippie and went to art school but I didn't much care for art students or artists. they were just so full of themselves and artspeak. never did tie die either so I guess I wasn't much of a hippie or artist. I did do some tie die last summer though with my grandgirls.
By: Ellen Abbott on January 16, 2015
An English and an Art degree? Boy howdy, you two were bound for great riches. Hey, don't feel bad. I have a Liberal Arts degree. And now? I clean toilets. Nice skivvies, by the way.
By: Al Penwasser on January 16, 2015
Now that is what I call a great sport and an even better wife. Did you save them? They would be called "vintage" on eBay now..lol
By: Bouncin Barb on January 16, 2015
The designs I have left on my own shorts over the eyars have never looked as good as her's. Sigh.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on January 17, 2015
she's a gem Stephen and you are very lucky to have each other. i hope you wore your undies with pride. :)
By: Fran\'s Wish List on January 17, 2015
Quite a nice story, Stephen! I enjoyed it.
By: Michael Manning on January 18, 2015

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