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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Straining a Relationship

November 14, 2016

Caution: If you have a delicate constitution you might not want to read this.

 

Last week not only brought disappointing election results, but I lost one of my dental veneers. Fifteen years ago I decided it was time to fix my teeth, particularly the gap that made me speak with a sloppy sibilant “s”. Over the years, a few of my veneers have come off but I’ve always found them and my dentist was able to reattach them. This time I was eating a baked potato when I suddenly noticed a veneer was missing.

 

Although I was eating at the time, I hadn’t noticed biting down on anything hard and was sure I hadn’t swallowed it, but after checking the floor around our eating area (TV trays in front of the boob tube) the missing veneer was nowhere to be found. I HAD to have swallowed it.

 

These veneers cost a thousand bucks and I wasn’t about to say goodbye to one easily. Fortunately, my digestive system runs like clockwork, so I decided to check the only place my veneer could be hiding.

 

Mrs. Chatterbox has suffered quite a few kidney stones and has a strainer to capture kidney stones when she passes them, but when asked where it was she said it had been so long since she’d passed a stone that she’d thrown it out. In retrospect, here’s where I made my big mistake. I prowled through the kitchen until finding a large strainer in the back of a cabinet, perfect for my purposes. I want to state loud and clear that Mrs. Chatterbox and I have been married for forty-two years and I’ve never seen her use that strainer, which was why it was buried in the back of a cupboard.

 

And use it I did.

 

Hunting through your own waste is an unpleasant task; perhaps the only thing worse is searching through someone else’s, but it wasn’t like a toddler trying to pass the plastic head of a G.I. Joe action figure; I was trying to recover an expensive piece of dentistry. Over the next three days I continued my search, with no success. When Mrs. C. spotted the strainer, which I’d cleaned with soap and water hot enough to burn my hands, she was curious. When I admitted what I was doing with it, she was not a happy homemaker.  

 

“How dare you use one of my cooking tools! How disgusting.”

 

“I’m trying to save us a thousand dollars!” I barked, knowing I was standing on thin ice. “Besides, you never use that strainer.”

 

“And now I never will!”

 

“Don’t be silly. We’ll run it through the dishwasher a few times and it will be good as new.”

 

“It will never be good as new,” she said between clenched teeth.

 

That strainer has been in our dishwasher ever since, and after five cleaning cycles it’s still there.

 

 

 

 

My dentist made me a new veneer. It cost a thousand dollars. Damage to my marital relationship will probably cost a lot more.

 

Have you ever gotten into trouble for using something that belonged to someone else, possibly for a purpose for which it wasn’t intended?

 

 

 

 

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Comments

24 Comments
Yeah, that was disgusting all right. Even worse that you didn't find it. Just go buy her a new strainer. And then promise never to use it for anything, including food.
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on November 14, 2016
Oh my. This sounds like something my own dear Sweet Man would be complaining about. I'm sorry that your veneer went astray, sorrier still that you did all your "hunting" with no results. I just it when things like this go wrong. But after 42 years.....it'll blow over.
By: Oma Linda on November 14, 2016
Even if you'd found the veneer I'm not sure you'd want to put that back in your mouth for the same reason as the strainer is still in the dishwasher.
By: PT Dilloway on November 14, 2016
Oh poo... and it's such a lovely looking strainer. This is one of those things that will rear its ugly head whenever she wants... too dump on you.
By: Daniel LaFrance on November 14, 2016
Honestly, Stephen, I can't imagine you would want to have it back in your mouth after all that anyway!
By: The Broad on November 14, 2016
I think I must agree with "The Broad" on this one, Stephen.
By: Catalyst on November 14, 2016
I must take Mrs. C's side on this one. Kindly toss that strainer in the trash, Stephen. I'd rather not see it again. I have veneers too. Years ago one chipped off when I was eating an apple. I otherwise fear they will fall off, and they are loosening. I sometimes sleep with a mouth-guard (dentist recommended), so they don't loosen more. So I know the desperation. Still, sorry, gotta go with the wife on this one.
By: Robyn Engel on November 14, 2016
I don't understand why you haven't bought a new strainer yet! They cost a pittance compared to family harmony. The point is not whether the strainer IS clean; it's that Mrs C will never FEEL it is clean. Feelings deserve consideration as much as facts do :)
By: jenny_o on November 14, 2016
Do you and Mrs C now have a 'strained' relationship?
By: John Gibson on November 14, 2016
I wouldn't use the strainer again either. Pop to Wal-Mart and get a new one, it will cost a lot less than your new veneer.
By: LL Cool Joe on November 14, 2016
I'm kind of with Mrs. C. in that I wouldn't use this strainer again for food products. There's just something off about it. Sorry Stephen but I did enjoy your story!
By: Bee BB Bee on November 14, 2016
Throw out the strainer, apologize, and move on. No pun intended.
By: messymimi on November 14, 2016
I get in trouble every day for that...not as egregious as that strainer thing, but all the time. I would toww tht strainer in a NY minute.
By: c on November 14, 2016
ok- my tummy hurts now- laughing too hard and too long! What were ya thinkin'? Incinerate that strainer or just dump it and do not ever do that again. I cannot believe you would have placed the veneer back in your mouth again....good grief! Now I'll go back to laughing at all the double entendres in the comments....bwa hahahah!
By: Kathe W. on November 14, 2016
Being married to a scientist we do not worry too much about squeamish stuff. But my kitchen tool would probably have to be replaced. They are not that expensive.
By: Tabor on November 14, 2016
Steve, you've made me laugh in an unlaughable week. I am tight, money-wise, Don would more than agree, but migod, friend, what could be so terrible inside your friendly gut that you would reject an object that passed through it? Or didn't pass through it. Doesn't matter, it's you and you have to own up to it. Love yourself and your products. No one else will do it like you can.
By: Jo Barney on November 14, 2016
Yes, I've gotten into trouble and the micro manager will never let me forget it.
By: redKline on November 14, 2016
this was a mr. cranky post if ever there was one. :) haha.
By: TexWisGirl on November 14, 2016
New strainer: $9.99 Marital harmony: priceless. You probably should have checked the vacuum cleaner instead of your "regular digestive system." You made me laugh!
By: Pixel Peeper on November 14, 2016
Egad, man! Encase that thing in lead and bury it in a salt mine! THEN get rid of the dishwasher! Buy a new strainer. $1000 for a tooth cover? Around here, you could get shoe inserts from The Good Feet Store for that!
By: Val on November 14, 2016
Run it through the dishwasher?!? That would have gone directly in a trash bag and would then have been sealed tightly before being taken out of the house. There aren't enough dishwasher cycles in the world that would make that strainer usable again! Oh!!! Blech!!!
By: Mitchell is Moving on November 15, 2016
I don't think I would have told that :) R
By: Rick Watson on November 15, 2016
I understand your plight and desire to save the money. You've got pluck and constitution to undertake the search, BUT I understand Mrs. C's position entirely. Buy a new strainer!
By: Tom Cochrun on November 15, 2016
I had a crown come off that I waited forever to have reseated and by then it didn't fit as well. make it work, I told the dentist who wanted to make a new one for $1200. he did, make it work that is, and that was years ago. I do have a gap I have to be diligent about flossing but better than a new crown. I often take stuff out of the kitchen for other purposes, usually to put to use in the shop. whatever it is is never returned to the kitchen.
By: Ellen Abbott on November 17, 2016

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