Good Narrative Principles

Inside The Box


At 3:55 every Tuesday and Thursday throughout the summer, twelve year old kids, mostly boys, barreled through the front door of the Y and headed straight to the basement. There, in the musty shop room, under four sputtering fluorescent strips, Mr. Big taught the kids woodworking. In the first session, only Andy, whom everyone called Dumbo cuz he had large flappy ears, and his best bud Eric showed. Mr. Big was OK with that. “I’m not running a popularity contest”, he told the two boys. Then he held up a simple wooden box and removed the cover, sitting perfectly on top. He pointed out the joinery, taught the two boys about shop safety and sent them home.  The next class, hordes of bored kids were there to greet Mr. Big. Again, he held up the pine box, taught the kids about shop safety and dismissed them. By week two, things had settled down and Mr. Big finally distributed materials including; wood, pencil, paper and ruler. The pencils lacked erasers. The saws were dull. But that didn’t stop the kids from comparing notes about what they were gonna do with their perfect boxes. They would store their burgeoning collection of whatever — Magic Cards, dollar bills, shell casings. Giving away their boxes as gifts wasn’t even mentioned. Dumbo worked silently beside Eric and said nothing. Finally, glue up day arrived. For the most part, the boxes bore a vague resemblance to Mr. Big’s model. The finishing process took a few more classes and each kid remembered to thank Mr. Big for volunteering his time. On his way home, Dumbo stopped by the Foodtown and stole a plastic bag to serve as gift wrapping. His Mom accepted the gift with tears in her eyes, knowing full well that the box was designed to fit the handgun she now stored between her bras and panties.

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