Without further ado, I was relieved of my responsibilities and demoted to bagger. I spent the next several hours putting individual coupon books into individual plastic shopping bags. According to Tina, every student in the elementary school would been sent home with a book that contained coupons and special offers that could be readily be found on the Internet and in mailbox circulars. There was absolutely no obligation to purchase the books. Parents who kept the books would be charged $25 and entered into a lottery to win a dinner at a local steakhouse. Those who returned their books would be accused of being cheap and having no school spirit.
Flipping through one of the books gave me a good idea. What if I ripped the only good coupon--a BOGO Chick-fil-A offer--out of each book?
Tina rolled her eyes and informed me that I would have to be more creative. That had already been done by a member of last year's committee. So had stealing 25 books and selling them on Craigslist.
My heart sank. What would be my contribution to this year's catastrophe?
Tina eyed me suspiciously and crossed herself. Then she muttered something I couldn't understand in Italian.
"I've decided that I'm not going to send any coupon books home with your kids," she said suddenly.
I felt excluded, hurt, and betrayed. Once the cloud of indignation cleared, I realized that my kids would not be sent home with coupon books. That's when I saw Virgil. He was standing, arms outstretched, by an aquarium of sea monkeys in Tina's kitchen.
"Welcome to Paradise," he said.