Wednesday, August 15, 2007

here's an ongoing drama for you, shows a little how obsessive a person can be. about a month and a half a go, i noticed that our new newspaper, the st. louis post-dispatch, was running a contest, printing money every day in denominations of 25000, 50000, and occasionally 250000 and one 500000, called millionaire bucks. i faithfully cut out every single one that i could find, and i admit that i usually use only one eye, and am a-d-d on top of that, so it's possible that i didn't see every one, but i saw almost every one a person could, who got the paper every single day from early july to today. and i'd saved six million, three hundred fifty bucks, figured i could get something in the bidding which started today but will go on every wednesday for about two months. eventually they'll have such things as a hummer, a jeep cherokee, a honda and sliding porch door which my wife has her eye on, but today they only had $500 in savings bonds, a jeweled pendant, a bunch of little stuff.

it occurred to me about halfway through, that i would ultimately be competing with entire church groups in st. louis, that the baptists for example would want the hummer, who knows maybe the methodists would go after the cherokee or the honda. anyway as a single free agent i would have very little chance unless i teamed up with someone, so i asked my barber the other day and she agreed to cut some bucks out of her post-dispatch as soon as possible. this also might make me better than the average single-free-agent, but might not be enough for the hummer. boy was i right about that. this morning i was way low in the bidding for everything; by 10:00 6.35 mil was not enough for anything but a tattoo and an oil change. everything else was way high. bidding for the $500 in savings bonds was at 50 mil. for a $10 gift certificate at a bar/pub called the dubliner, bidding was at 25 mil. where did people come up with all this money?

from the barber i heard a story about a woman who played a similar game here; won two cars, one in each year; but did it by buying entire stacks of newspapers at half-price from a convenience store that had regular sales. do people actually do this stuff?

i got started because i liked the newsprint on my hand from thumbing through every single paper. reminded me of my paperboy days, which were many, and which were very peaceful in their own kind of way. there was actually two sets of them; in the first one, i delivered pittsburgh post-gazettes for 42 cents a week to about 55 customers in a hilly suburban neighborhood that included an old-folks' place and a weird little enclave in a wooded area down by the highway. in the second set i was a bundle-dropper for the des moines register, dropped whole bundles of papers on street-corners, and drove empty streets in the middle of the night, also filled up vending machines using red slugs that were shaped like quarters and opened up the machines gracefully. every morning i'd get that ink all over my hands, i'd have the black hand and the inky smell, but i'd be a little awaker than my friends, and then, i saw a lot of unusual stuff, humans being unusual inhabitants of the wee hours. once in pittsburgh i saw this intense meteor shower; falling stars filled the sky for an entire forty-five minutes, but i was the only one who saw it, nobody else was up. it was so intense, at one point i just laid down on some grass and watched it.

not that clipping all these little millionaire bucks is going to bring back any of that. i have absolutely no use for a tattoo, especially if i have to go to st. louis to get it, and at this point, it doesn't look like i'll get the hummer either. doesn't matter though, the family just got a new van, a kia, which is cheaper, good on safety, plenty of room, and, made in korea, so it reminds me, kind of, of another time in my life. don't know what i'll do, or even if i'll bid for anything, before it's over, but now that the barber is in on it with me, i'm sure i'll try for something, and if i'm crafty, maybe i'll get something. i think i'll skip the oil changes at the car dealerships though (these seem to be plentiful, and almost within reach for my measly 6.35 mil. the problem with those is, they change your oil, but you're standing around all these new cars, and next thing you know, you're going home with one. free oil change- hah! one thing i'll say about this van is, we really did need it. and it was clear- i wasn't going to win the hummer. the thing about a tattoo is- church groups don't want it. the people who do, don't read the paper. that's the kind of thing i need to shoot for. it isn't over yet- another factor is, all prices are inflated, on the first wednesday, when everyone has been sitting on their big piles of millionaire bucks for a month and a half.

even on a normal night, i always saw a lot of stars. city lights, street lights, house lights, were mostly turned off at five in the morning. birds would be singing away, but shut up as i walked by because they knew i wasn't going to stick around. i was free to more or less live in my head, which made walking pleasant for me, for years, and made me sensitive to the kinds of stuff i saw that was alive, in the grass down by my feet. the inky hand was actually not a bad thing- it had a distinct smell, and feel, but it washed off easily, it was a connection to the passing nature of the days' events. i kind of miss the tribune, actually, which stopped delivering in southern illinois, and represented a more refined view of life, but a much more raucous city, chicago. it's ok, we're here now, and need a paper every day, and, we get to st. louis every once in a while, if i win something up there, i actually have a chance of picking it up. in our new van, no less. on one of these trips where i'll be taking folks to the airport- my wife & little boys, going to california for a wedding; my oldest son, going to france for the fall. the world's events continue, at breakneck pace. the deer watches silently, from the edge of the wood.

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