Sunday, October 23, 2005

Christmas, 1994

My brother likes to accuse me of stealing his belongings, but other than the Nolan Ryan baseball card at Christmas in 1994, I never have. I guess that wouldn't have been so bad had the card not been worth $200. I asked to see what cards he got in his pack while we were waiting to leave home for a relative's house, and as I was shuffling through, I came across the NOLAN RYAN GOLD SIGNATURE CARD (!!!!!!!!). Not believing what I found and what he didn't know he had, I quickly shuffled it into my cards and gave him some other card. It was a Dickie Thon card, even though Dickie Thon was my hero for a short time because of his name.

I went through that Christmas feeling a twinge of guilt along with a "ohmygodthankyousantaicantbelieveireallyhavethisbaseballcardthisisthe
greatestdayofmylifethekidsatschoolaregoingtothinkimsocool" feeling. The latter was the one that prevailed. All my family members couldn't believe I found the NOLAN RYAN GOLD SIGNATURE CARD (!!!!!!!!) that was worth $200. They all wanted to know what I was going to do with it. Was I going to sell it? Would I hold onto it? How did I get so lucky? All the while, my brother looked on with a face of envy and hate. The competition that simmered below the surface and would grow. The only thing was that I never admitted to anyone the cards was his. With everyone huddled in my corner with looks of awe in their eyes, I couldn't let the lie out. Not now. In the mind of a 13-year old, it could never be known. This was MY moment of glory. Glory through a $200 piece of glossy cardboard. A lie built on cardboard.

As time went on, the guilt built and built. But I couldn't say anything. I never could. To do so would send me to the pergatory of the people who thought I was great. I held onto the card. It was placed in a prominent place in my room where I would never lose sight of it. It would not walk away and no one would walk away with it. The card became my being, my obsession. The card became my broken conscious. I began to lie to myself that the card was really mine. That I never slipped my brother the Dickie Thon. Never, never. The pack of baseball cards was rightfully mine anyway. Afterall, he didn't even like baseball cards. Despite, of course, all the binders in his room from when we traded cards. When I would offer him a Franklin Stubbs for a Roger Clemens, Jose Canseco and Rickey Henderson. And then it hit me. This was the peak. This was the cocaine to the gateway marijuana they taught us about in health class.

What had I done?

All the while, I did not let the NOLAN RYAN GOLD SIGNATURE CARD (!!!!!!!!) go. In February, my baseball card price guide came in the mail. As had become the obsession, I checked what it was worth. It had stayed at $200 the previous month, but when I got to the page, my eye first hit the little black down arrow. Oh no. It was now $150. What? My lie was decreasing in value. Now I really didn't know what to do. If I held onto it, I would be furthering a deception. If I righted the wrong, not only 1) would I be punished severely, but 2) I would be accused of giving back something only when it was losing its value. This put me in a slightly sour mood.

The months passed. When my price guide came, I would check on the NOLAN RYAN GOLD SIGNATURE CARD (!!!!!!!!). Same price, March. Down $10, April. Up $15, May! Down $5, June. And on and on. Eventually, the card went to $50. Oh, super. At this point, the old obsession lost its prized spot in my room and descended into a box, placed far back in my closet. I figured it should never see the light of day. Ever. Again.

Years passed, and I slowly forgot. Going through some stuff, I found it one day. "Hmmm," I thought. Last Christmas, I went to my brother, shuffled around a little and said, "You know that nolan ryan gold signature card that was worth $200 and went down in value which really put me in a bad mood?" He said, "yeah."

"Well, that card was actually your's. I asked to go through your cards when we were in the car, and I saw it and slipped it into my cards. You got a Dickie Thon," I said.

"Really?"

"Yep."

"You jerk!"

"HA! You're not getting it back! NEVER!!!"

"Do you think I care?"

The end.

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There might be a lesson in that. If you can find it, you probably have a tumor.

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