This week’s two excerpts come from the end of The Shoebox, and are based on a silly joke that my friend Trudy and I have shared over many years. Our silly joke originated from an episode of the British comedy series “Fawlty Towers” starring John Cleese as a hotel owner. When an American guest asks for a Waldorf Salad, Mr. Fawlty responds, “I think we’re just out of waldorfs.”
“Do we have any waldorfs?” asked Bessie.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“Well, I’ve been thinking about what to eat when we celebrate tomorrow, and the songbirds told me there is a special salad made from waldorfs. People like it, and it’s very famous too. They call it Waldorf Salad, but we can call it Celebration Salad instead if we we have no waldorfs.”
“Have any of the songbirds ever seen a waldorf?”
“Only what it looks like in a salad at picnics in the park, but they are checking The Living Library.”
“To be honest with you, I can’t say I’ve ever seen a waldorf either. But I think we will be able to find several good substitutes in the refrigerator.”
“Maybe tomorrow we can hunt for some waldorfs early in the morning,” suggested Blanche. “I like tasting new things.”
“That’s a great idea, but you girls had better get some sleep if you are going waldorf hunting in the morning. Since no one seems to have seen one, then I’m sure they can be very elusive.”
“Elusive?” asked Pearl.
“More difficult to find than the right color for your ballet costumes.”
Pearl smiled and blushed. “Maybe tomorrow we can decide,” she chirruped happily.
And then near the ending of the story…
Gracie looked up at me with a spark of excitement in her eyes. She liked this idea. The shoebox was now too big for her, but it would certainly hold more good memories than she could count.
“Next to shoes and baby chicks, I think good memories are the best things for a shoebox to hold,” she said. “This is a perfect gift.”
“What good memories should we put in your shoebox?”
“For now, I like having just the straw in there. But I do have a few ideas already.”
“Like maybe a wild waldorf or two?”
“You know there is no such thing as a waldorf, wild or otherwise,” she said.
We laughed together and watched as Bessie led Blanche and Pearl off on a wild waldorf hunting expedition into the brambles beyond the ivy-covered tree stump. They tiptoed along as slowly and as stealthily as possible.
Every now and then, Pearl would jump up in a twitch of excitement even though she hadn’t found anything, and that would make Blanche burp. Then Bessie would warn both of them to be quiet, but she could only pretend to be annoyed because they were all having so much fun.
“It looks like everything is even more ClückŸ-BückŸ than before,” said Gracie.
“Do you think we should tell them there are no such things as waldorfs?” I said. “It feels like they are wasting their time.”
“Oh, I am sure they do not care one way or the other. They are just enjoying a chance to explore and hunt. And who knows? On this adventure or the next, they just may find something no one has ever seen before. This is that kind of place, you know.”