JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

The coconut head

Photo on 2010-08-03 at 15.23 #2

The wife and I are very close friends with Jill Murray and Greg Kuppinger, a married couple in Buffalo, N.Y.

About six years ago, Jill showed up at our house with a coconut head her father had once given her as a present. The thing is comically ugly—the wedding gift equivalent of an Elvis lamp or naked lady tea pot. We didn’t want the coconut head, but Jill insisted. So we took it. Then, the next time we saw her, we snuck the head in her car before she drove off. Then, the next time she saw us, she hid it in our closet. On and on and on.

The wife and I have had two great hand-back-the-coconut head moments. When Jill married Greg several years ago, we were asked to give a toast. We did, and brought a nice bag up to the podium with us. At the toast’s completion, the wife said, “Jill, we have a little present for you.” We presented her the coconut. Nobody laughed—except us.

Late last year, we again were in possession of the coconut. It was December, and we knew Jill and Greg would be going to Jill’s brother’s house for Christmas. So we called the bro, shipped the (wrapped) coconut to his crib and had it waiting there for them to open.

We win, right?

So I thought.

This morning, at roughly 9:30, we (me, wife, two kids) arrived in Spain. We’re doing a house swap, so Sue—the mother/wife of the clan we’re swapping with—picked us up at Barcelona’s airport and drove us the 1-hour, 15-minute trek to Arbucies, the tiny little town where they live. When I say tiny—this place is t-i-n-y. Lovely and wonderful and oozing with flavor, but very, very, very small. We walk in, unload our baggage, enter the living room.

“Recognize anything familiar?” Sue asks.

There, on a coffee table, is the coconut head.