A magical Treasure Box
Sheiks of Araby
One summer Joey and I were playing 'sheiks of araby". Somehow we got it into our heads that we could run around with some of our mom's old sheets on our heads and pretend to be the sheiks we had seen in the encyclopedias. Mothers back then were quite understanding, and allowed little boys quite a bit of leeway; anything to get them out of their hair for some hours that long summer. We enlisted our dogs as 'camels'. Seems to me now that the dogs didn't take kindly to being ridden, but we tried our best for a few days. After that, we gave up and just pretended.
One of the games we played was to ride up and down the 'sand dunes', otherwise known as the back yard. Dad had dropped some gravel there to be put into the driveway. Somehow the gravel had never gotten spread, so it made great sand dune look alikes.
"Hey, Joey! Look at me! I'm the sheik of araby!" I whooped and hollered and tried to ride Bonnie down the gravel pile. Half way down, the dog ran away from me, not taking kindly to being ridden like a camel. I fell and scraped my knee, but laughed anyway.
"Ha! Great one Charlie!" Joey was doubled over with laughter, but soon he stopped and got quite thoughtful. "Hey, what is a sheik of araby anyway?"
"Darned if I know. I guess they just ride camels and wear these goofy looking white sheet things on their heads."
Such was the extent of our knowledge of the great culture of the Arabian world. It was all we could gather from the pictures and the few words we could understand from the encyclopedia.
"Joey, you know what we need?" I had thought this out the night before, having heard something more about the nights in Arabia. "We need a treasure chest."
"What? What kind of treasure chest?" Joey looked at me as only a little brother could look at his older brother. Pure adoration is what you would call it, he still has it to this day.
"Oh you know, a box with fancy jewels and colored doo-dads all over it. Something a magic genie would live in." Now I was really selling this idea. Joey liked anything magical.
"Magic genie? What is that?" His eyes were large blue saucers.
"A magic genie is just that - magic. He will give you anything you wish for. You just have to rub his magical box three times and make the magic chant. Then your wish will come true!" I made all this up. I had no idea what to do if this did not work. I just hoped Joey would forget all this by tomorrow, like he usually did. He was five, after all.
"OOOH - I want the magic box! Where do we find this magic box?" He was really sold on this, I could tell. I was in deep, that was for sure.
"Ummm, I think it is in Mary's bedroom." Mary is our big sister. This was a dicey move. To take anything from Mary was like stealing from Mom. Big trouble.
"We have to get it! If it is magic, she won't mind if we get it, will she? I mean, she can get anything she wants, and then we can get anything we want. Right?"
"Well, Joey, it may not work like that. First, we have to get the box. So, let's think about this tonight. Maybe tomorrow we'll have an idea of what to do."
We did a few more ups and downs the sand dunes before supper and TV time. I worried all night in bed. I did come up with a cool magic chant, though.
I had to keep repeating it in my head so I wouldn't forget it. Sounds goofy now, but as a ten year old kid, I thought it was kind of cool.
First thing, after breakfast, Joey and I meet at the backyard sand dunes, head gear on and ready to do battle as the sheiks of our backyard kingdom. He has something under his shirt, though.
"Look, Charlie! I got it!"
Oh nuts. "What? What do you have?"
"The magic box! I took it from Mary's room. She won't miss it. Let's rub it and make a wish!"
We're in deep now, no turning back from this disaster. "OK, this is the chant. Say it while you rub the box, Joey.
Dog and cat
kit and kat
skit and skat
give me the fat"
As I remember it, the little guy remembered every word and rubbed that jewelry box until some of the fake jewels fell off into the gravel.
"Is that right, Charlie? Did I do it right?"
"I guess you did, buddy. Now you have to put it back."
"Don't you want a turn?"
"No, your wish was good enough for us both," I said.
It was a good wish. Joey got the box back, safe and sound. Mary never knew it had been missing. So much for that worry.
I asked Joey later what he had wished for. And he looked at me all amazed, like I had two heads or something.
"Well, goofball, I wished that Dad would come back. Didn't you know that?"
Truly the best wish of all.