Finally my mom got up her nerve and pushed the salami really hard. At that same exact moment, the laughter I had been trying to hold back exploded from my mouth. She dropped the broom and looked at me.
"What's so funny?" my mom asked. Up close, two inches from my face, she looked furious. Maybe it was just the position of having her head lower than her bottom that made her face so red, but I was sure she was about to poke me with the broom handle. I sure didn't want that to happen because it still had some pieces of gray-green hair sticking to it. I felt kind of sick, but then another one of my huge laughs erupted. It was as if I had no control over my body. One followed another, and pretty soon I was rolling on the floor. My mom sat down---hard.
"What is so funny?!"
"Salami," I managed to get out despite the gales of laughter that I had no control over. "Salami! Salami!" I rolled on the floor. "It's a salami!"
My mother gazed at me with disbelief. What did salami have to do with anything? The object under the bed did not look like any salami she had ever seen. In fact, it did not look like anything she (or I) had ever seen.
I gasped for breath. "Mom, it's a salami---you know, one of those big salami sausages!"
She asked what any sane mother would ask in this situation. "What is a salami doing under your bed?"
"I bought it with my allowance." My laughter was subsiding, and fear was beginning to take its place. I looked at her. She had the strangest expression on her face that I had ever seen: a combination of disgust, confusion, exhaustion, fear---and anger! Her hair was standing on end, perspiration beaded on her flushed face and her eyes looked as if they were going to jump out of her head. I couldn't help it. I started to laugh again.
And then the miracle of miracles happened. My mom started to laugh, too. First just a nervous release, a titter really, but then it turned into the full-on belly laugh that only my mom's side of the family is capable of. The two of us laughed until tears rolled down our cheeks and thought I would pee my pants.
When we finally were able to stop laughing, my mom shoved the broom into my hands.
"Okay, Patty Jean Shaw, clean it up, no matter what it is!" I had no idea how to clean up something and not look at it or touch it. So, of course, I got my little sister to help me. I could get her to help with anything, as long as I bribed or threatened her. Since she didn't know what the object was supposed to look like to begin with, she didn't have much fear attached to helping. Between the two of us, we managed to roll it onto the evening newspaper (my dad never knew what happened to it). I carefully, carefully carried it outside and put it into the trash. Then I had my sister remove the remaining fuzz from the carpet. I had convinced her that I was too large to get into the small corner where it had grown. I ended up owing her my allowance for two weeks.
My mom never got mad at me for buying the salami. I guess she thought I had already paid a price. The salami provided a memory of shared, unrestrained laughter. For years to come, all I had to do was threaten to buy salami to make my mom laugh.
©1998. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Chicken Soup for the Kid's Soul by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Patty Hansen, Irene Dunlap. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
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