Hot Firefighter Husband had hippie tendencies long before I did. Right after college, he was the New Hampshire coordinator for George McGovern’s presidential campaign, and once drove with McGovern and Jesse Jackson through the White Mountains in his beat-up old VW. He says Jesse Jackson is a terrible driver.
He worked for the campaign while he waited for his Peace Corps assignment to come through, and when it did, he flew to to the Demcratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire. His job consisted of public health work, so the villagers all assumed he was a doctor. He delivered babies, convinced people to use outhouses, and helped expel an accused snake -charmer from the community. He also had an affair with a tribal chief’s daughter named Vivienne. What? I know, I know.
Anyway, I periodically come across some remnant of his Africa days. There’s a lab coat he refuses to wash that smells like a caveman’s armpit, and some cool slides and ebony sculptures. So I wasn’t initially surprised to find a blue vinyl zippered bank pocket last night containing some old documents from those long ago days. There sat his expired passport and vaccination records, a bible written in Lingala, and a tiny manilla envelope with rattling contents. Some coins from the Congo, maybe? Stones?
I emptied the envelope into my cupped hand, and out came…..TEETH. Big grown-up yellow teeth with dried blood on them. Honest to St. Apollonia, patron saint of dentists.
My first thought was that Hot Firefighter Husband IS A SERIAL KILLER. Duh. Because I watch CSI as much as anybody else. But I ruled that out because the only time he’d have to commit the crime would be between 8:45 and 9 am every third day, and that seems like a short span to murder someone PLUS extract a tooth or two.
Then I thought, OH, NO, while in Africa he engaged in some strange voodoo rituals and is saving these teeth to mix with brewer’s yeast, spider web and dried snake poop in hopes of casting a juju spell on me. He consumed monkey brain and termites while he was there, after all. Or maybe he was just practicing some amateur dentistry. But why would he keep the teeth?
I noticed some faded lettering on the little manila envelope, so I put on my glasses and peered more closely. In my mother-in-law’s handwriting, I could clearly see the words “Wisdom Teeth For Peace Corps,” plus my husband’s name.
AWWW! How sweet! Right? Okay, no, that’s just weird. I mean, I saved my son’s pulled tooth last year, but he was 7 years old. Husband was 22 when he had them pulled.
Mother-in-law? Can you explain yourself? I’ll wait to hear from you.
In the meantime, I suppose it’s just further evidence that your son remains your son, no matter how old he gets, how far he goes, and how rank he smells. I guess I’ll find that out soon enough.