I’m sure my parents must have thought that I did think we’d won the lottery. Drum lessons, baseball games, Disney World and lots of Hardy Boys books. Not to mention lots of the things that kids don’t really think about – braces, glasses, clothes, and it seemed like I was always getting new shoes.
I don’t think I was a spoiled brat, at least not all of the time.
There was one particular instance that does stand out, though. I remember being in a store with my Dad. It was like a K-Mart or Rose’s or something like that (back in those days, there were no Wal-Marts or Targets).
I was eight or nine, and had developed an addiction to the Hardy Boys. I didn’t just read the books, I collected them. I had a big shelf where dozens of miniature Franks and Joes looked back at me from the blue spines of all those books.
For those who don’t know, the Hardy Boys, Frank and Joe, were brothers, sons of a famous detective. They solved crimes. Sometimes with the help of their friends, but most of the time on their own. And like comic books, each adventure was numbered, starting with The Tower Treasure, which was number one.
When I started reading them, there were fifty-some books in the series, though new ones continued to come out every so often. Fifty books seemed like a huge number to me when I started reading them, and I thought they’d go on forever. I’d never be able to read so many books!
And my collection grew.
The stores didn’t always have the complete series, so there were holes in my collection. So I had the first three, and then five through eleven, but I didn’t have #4 The Missing Chums. And on and on it went.
Anyway, I was in this store with my Dad, and they had an end cap that had a bunch of Hardy Boy Books. At this point, my collection had grown quite a bit, and I was used to going to stores and seeing that I already had all the books they had out.
My Dad told me I could have one. I couldn’t choose between the ghost and the wildcat. I had to have them both. They were only $2 each (or something like that), so what was the big deal? Just get me both!
He told me I could pick one or I couldn’t have any.
How unreasonable! And unfair! Wasn’t reading a good thing? Shouldn’t I be rewarded for wanting to read? Didn’t I deserve both books?
Eventually, I got over that gross injustice. And I’m sure my Dad got over my behavior.
As a kid, I didn’t really have a concept of money. I didn’t know enough to feel gauche about the way I acted in that store. Luckily, those kinds of incidents were rare.
My parents always took care of me and whatever I needed. I didn’t often make outrageous demands, and I didn’t always get every little thing that I wanted. I never felt deprived. I always had clean clothes, and there was always a jar of Skippy and a box of Cocoa Pebbles (or some other sugar-enriched cereal) in the pantry.
The trick is doing that now, when I’m a grown-up (more or less).
A lot of it is attitude. I don’t need that Pokemon mentality of “gotta catch ‘em all”. There will always be more. Newer and better ones. Or additional ones that compliment, or contrast with, the other collection. There is no placebo that satisfies. It never ends.
The truth is, all that stuff isn’t really important.
I recently saw the pilot episode of the sitcom “Wings”. If you don’t know, or don’t remember, this was a 1990’s TV series about two brothers who ran a small airline in Nantucket.
As the series opened, the brothers were estranged. Their father had just passed away, and he left them a package, telling them that they were rich. The brothers get together and open the package, only to find a key. The key leads them to a series of safety deposit boxes and lockers, each holding a key to the next one. The last key opens a locker back at the Nantucket airport, and there they find a picture of themselves, arm in arm, when they were kids. The father wrote on the back of the photograph, “You’re rich.”
Financially, I’ve never been rich. There have been times when I’ve been comfortable, when my income was greater than my out-go. Times when it was just me, and I had my own Skippy and Cocoa Pebbles in the panty, when I wasn’t concerned about what bills were in today’s mail or if there was enough gas in the tank to get me through the week.
Sure, those things are nice.
Next weekend, I get to fly back east to see my parents, my siblings, my brother-in-law, my nephews, my niece and my uncle. I don’t get to see any of them as often as I’d like, since we live so far away. And that’s one of the first things I’ll change when I really do win the lottery. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy spending the weekend with so many of my favorite people.
This past week, I got to see my son perform in a choral concert at a local community college. He’s a senior in high school, and he has an amazing voice, which I’ve no doubt will take him far. A local private university desperately wants him to come sing there, and we’re going on a tour of the campus this weekend.
After the show, his mother, his sister and I took him to IHOP (his choice). We talked and laughed and ate pancakes. No amount of money could have made that evening any better.
I have already won the lottery.
P.S. - Hi Marvin! It's all there, "When I was just a child...", gauche and placebo!