A Memory: Coffee, Pennies and Duct Tape

You know what I remember?

The day before my friend's birthday.

Me and M and S all went to get his present. It involved four of those large cans of Maxwell coffee grind, and 15$ in pennies.

We had the bank tellers laughing at our intentions, but they exchanged the money happily.

We carted it back to my house, or I think perhaps my brother picked us up. S went home, M stayed.

We found a box. A huge box. Set it on my bed and taped all the seams. lined the inside with tin foil, scotch tape, and duct tape. Messed up a thousand times. We didn't know what we were doing exactly, just that we were doing it and we were making it up along the way.

Grouped pennies together in ones, twos, threes, and sometimes fours and wrapped them in little pieces of siran wrap, because we were worried the copper would get into the coffee and make it toxic, or the copper would end up doing some weird coffee-oxidizing thing and mess everything up.

Tossed the covered pennies into the bottom of the box. Opened all the cans of coffee, poured them out in the box, re-lidded them and wondered what to do. Fit them all in at the top, completely obscuring the sea of coffee grinds. Closed the box. Taped it up.

But that wasn't enough.

I forget all the layers. There was a layer of plain scotch tape. another layer, I think, of siran wrap and/or tin foil, and then an impressive double layer of heavy duty duct tape that made so much noise, my father told us to quiet down. Which only made us laugh louder.

Said good bye, waved her off from my front porch. Stared at the box defiantly. Wondered where the heck I was going to put it.

Got my brother to drive us to the party. Lugged the box in and down a deadly flight of stairs.

The party sucked. I remember that. Awkward, because of a break up, and I found no point in Guitar Hero. Still don't, honestly. Or at least, no point for me. I rather dislike it.

But the presents opening.

He cheated, our friend. Took his pro exacto knife to the box and had it open in seconds. But we weren't done. He saw the cans. Laughed, said thank you, then picked one up. Empty. And beneath it, darkness.

Laughter. Hanging off each other, Me and M and S could hardly stand up. The look on his face was priceless, though I can't remember it now. He picked up each one. "Well... at least I won't need to buy coffee for a while!" he joked. But that still wasn't all.

We told him to dig. Dig like he'd never dug before, till he felt something. So he dug, and pulled out a poorly-designed sack half filled with coffee grinds despite our best efforts. Opened it up, saw the pennies.

"There's about 14,997 in there. We think we lost about 3," we explained. "Good luck unwrapping them all and getting people to take it."

For the next two months, M was volunteering at the school store. Our friend paid for everything he bought in rolls of 100 pennies.

He told us the actual total. Something like 14,987 or so.

Others thought it was too cruel, but this was payback for a trick present on S earlier that month. Us four, we got it. We understood it. And we laughed the truest and the hardest at it. He got us back, of course, but that was part of the fun.

It never happened again, but I like to think I'll always remember this memory.


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