Once upon a time, there was a nice boy named Duncan who lived in in a nice town with his nice family.  One day while walking home from school, Duncan decided to take a shortcut through the woods. " What could go wrong" he thought as he skipped through the spooky, spindly trees. Suddenly, Duncan came upon two strangers in an angry confrontation. "

What did you just say ?!?!" The man in the cowboy hat shouted to the man in the clown suit. "I...I.. I said TWO DIMES FOR A NICKEL" boomed the clown, blowing defiantly into a kazoo.

Well, that just enraged the cowboy even more, and their fight became even louder and more intense.

Duncan was startled to say the least and hurried home to tell his mother about the strange fight he witnessed on his way home from school.

"HEY, MOM!!!" Duncan shouted to his mother, who was putting away dishes in the sunlit  kitchen.  "MOM, the WEIRDEST THING JUST HAPPENED...." Duncan rushed to tell his Mother the whole story, and she listened patiently if a bit absentmindedly.  Just as Mom was making mental note to remind Duncan not to go through the woods on his way home from school, she heard him say a horrible terrible thing. "...two dimes for a nickel.."

"WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!"  Duncan's Mom immediately freaked out, dropping all the plates she was holding, barely registering when they shattered on the kitchen floor.

"I CERTAINLY DID NOT RAISE MY SON TO SAY SUCH THINGS" she screeched, literally clutching her pearls.

"But....but, Mom" Sputtered a startled Duncan, "I don't even KNOW what... I've never even HEARD...."

But Duncan's Mother just would not listen "Go straight to your room! Just wait til your Father gets home!!"

Duncan sat in his room nervously waiting for his dad to come home. Duncan felt terrible for upsetting his mother so, but at the same time, he felt electrified by the intensity that this phrase, which he had never before heard, inspired. He knew based on his mother's ballistic reaction that he would be in trouble when his father got home, but he hoped that his father could at least explain what two dimes for a nickel meant.

Later that night Duncan heard the front door open with a click. His heart started pounding as he strained to hear his mother's heated retelling of that afternoon's events. Soon the voices downstairs quieted and Duncan heard his father's heavy footsteps clomping up the steps.

"Ok, Son," his father said with a sigh, "tell me exactly what happened." Duncan told his story, the walk home, the shortcut through the woods, the fight, the yelling of "two dimes for ....."

"STOP" Commanded his father with a queasy look on his face. "I didn't want to believe it was true, but I heard it with my own ears..." Duncan tried again to protest "I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT TWO DIMES FOR A NICKEL MEANS, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON...."

Before he knew it, Duncan was being thrown out of his house like DJ Jazzy Jeff's character Jazz on the best sitcom ever The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire. "We simply can't have you corrupting little Mary-Beth" they cried at the front door.

Now Duncan was just plain mad! He didn't have his backpack or homework and would now have to spend the night in the school playground. "And besides" thought Duncan, "Mary-Beth is just our dumb housecat." Settling in on top of the Monkey Bars, Duncan decided to just let it go and never say those stupid words again and maybe soon his parents would forgive him.

The next day in school, Duncan was a total mess he was wearing an old t shirt that read IT IS  TUESDAY even though it was Wednesday, he had forgotten all of his assignments, and he could barely keep himself awake during class. At the end of the day a friendly, hip teacher pulled him aside to ask what was wrong. Duncan was so tired that he retold the whole terrible story to his teacher. You can probably guess what happened next, Duncan was taken directly to the principal's office and the principal immediately called the police.

As he was being sentenced to ten years in jail, the judge droning on and on about how he had" never in all his years heard such unspeakable language from a boy as seemingly nice as Duncan", Duncan realized that he may never know what two dimes for a nickel meant, and to be honest he didn't really care, he just wanted to forget the whole thing and move on.

Ten years later, Duncan is indeed ready to move on with his life. As he walks down the streets of his old town for the first time in a decade, he takes a deep breath and really notices his surroundings . As he gazes across the street, he sees a billboard with huge letters spelling out TWO DIMES. Duncan gasped, the rest of the billboard was covered up by a bus waiting at a red light. Soon the traffic began to creep along and Duncan saw more and more of the billboard TWO...DIMES... FOR.... A ...NIC ....

Duncan saw the phase that had destroyed his life and couldn't keep the old curiosity from bubbling up inside. Maybe now he would know why the phrase held so much power.  And as he crossed the street to get a closer look, Duncan was hit by a bus.

The End

Isn't this the best/worst story ever!!! I told this story many times as a camp counselor and heard it many more times as a camper. It's great because a good storyteller can stretch out the saga in a number of imaginative ways to keep the listeners on the edge of their seats ...or you know their patch of grass around a campfire. It's also super fun to tell the story and see everyones anger about the way it ends.

Try it out this weekend for National Storytelling Weekend! Or you know... you could tell a better story, I don't know! It's up to you! That's the thing about great storytellers whether they are harnessing their Larry David angst to punch up a story about a Starbucks run or creating something new they keep their listeners fully engaged. Three cheers for storytelling!

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So, what do you think?