Boys in the Bank Jeanne Althouse Micro-Fiction

pages Boys in the Bank

by Jeanne Althouse

Published in Issue No. 165 ~ February, 2011

She’s a jawjackin, gum chewing, joke crackin motorcycle babe. Hair balding on top and four grand-babies, but hasn’t got a clue she’s old. Still wears her skirts so short you can see her sweet panties and when the hem slides up as she gets on her bike you get your eyes full of the scar on her hip from where the doc slid his hand in to screw down replacement parts.

I’ve tried to love her, for my wife’s sake, but she embarrasses me half to hell. Always says what she’s thinking, no care to who’s listening. Lately, every time she sees me, she says, with a smirk, “Snip. Snip.” She’s holding her fingers as if they’re a pair of scissors. “Done that snip, snip yet?”

I’m a dentist and she’s been in four times lately for the fitting of a crown. She’s ruined her teeth eating Oreos. Thinks dunking them in milk cancels the sugar. Of course my wife expects me to treat her for free. And she’s picky about the fit. I’ve filed it twice and she’s coming back again next week. Every time, “done that snip, snip yet?” Gets old.

My wife tells her mama everything so she knows we’re considering the snip, snip. Four kids are more than enough, but didn’t think I’d check it out with my mother in law. I’m undecided—the idea of surgical tools anywhere near John Henry stops me cold.

On the weekend we’re at a family barbeque at the local park—I’m surrounded by at least thirty family members. And Motor Mama reminds me, as she serves me one of her giant barbeque dogs, “Snip, snip?”

She’s never heard of talking in private? I never sass back at her; silence is my weapon. I take the dog and head for the ketchup.

Walking away from her never stops her talking at you. “Three sons and one daughter is enough to prove your manhood,” she says. “But put some boys in the bank, just in case.” I stop and turn around.

I imagine filling a plastic container with my boys, and my face gets red. I’ve always been a blusher. I hate it when she gets a red out of me.

“In case of what?” I say, mouth full of dog. I can’t let it go.

“She may be your favorite wife now,” she says, her serving fork up in the air. She points the fork at her daughter, getting her attention, across the grass.

Ears up, my wife tunes in. I see she’s jawjackin with the park security guard. She’s a talker just like her mama, but I think she talks more if that’s possible.

“Well, you never know, do you?” her mother answers. “You could get divorced someday.”

“Mama. What are you saying to him?” She walks toward us. “This is your own daughter, standing right here listening.”

“Nothing personal,” she says. Eyes sparkling she throws down the fork and slaps her fists on her hips to make a point. She does love a fight. “Men often do second families with a second much younger wife.”

I can see the younger-wife remark has riled my dearly beloved. “So is this any of your business?” my wife says. I see a fight coming so I sneak off for a beer.

Monday I call to make an appointment for the snip, snip. I’m still unsure about banking the boys, but that afternoon one of my patients—he owns the local cryolab—decides to give me a sales pitch. He says I should definitely “safeguard my future reproductive options” since reversal surgery can fail. They have the best specimen guarantee post-thaw he claims and he offers me free storage in exchange for three teeth cleanings a year. He’s got a tartar and plaque problem from drinking too much coffee. But even with the fees paid, I can’t make up my mind.

So why am I sitting here today at the lab with my magazine, face red as a tomato, trying to romance a plastic cup?

When Motor Mama comes in Tuesday for her crown adjustment and I’m tap tapping the articulating paper to see where the uneven parts are, she takes my arm and stops me. With her tongue she pushes the cotton plug out of her mouth. She pulls me down toward her. Then she whispers, a rare thing for her. She says if a terrible tragedy happened to any of her grandbabies, she would appreciate a backup plan. With the sun reflecting through the window on her hair, for a moment, she looks exactly like my wife.

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Jeanne Althouse lives in Palo Alto, California and is working on a collection of short-short stories. Her work has been published in literary journals including the Madison Review, Opium, Canary, the Stanford English Department Newsletter, The MacGuffin, Pindeldyboz, Temeros, Flashquake and Literary Mama. She has won the Foothill Writer’s Conference and the Lunch Hour Stories short story contests. She has stories upcoming in Rumble and Red Rock Review. She can be reached on email at