Well I’ve dished out my final invite for a WordPress blog. I’ve passed the torch onto a friend I work with that I’m sure will provide hours of great content. His original idea for a blog was to come up with a daily scenario depicting him engaged in physical battle with Steven Segal. The catch is that Segal would have to handicap himself in some manner (hands tied behind his back, carrying a hundred and fifty pound boulder, blindfolded by hungry pirhanas, etc.). I can’t say for sure that he’ll follow through with that as his exclusive content, but nonetheless, I look forward to finding out just what he touches on.

I should point out here that Caleb is a colleague of mine. His cube is about 25 feet away from mine. But the reason I know him is because he’s married to a woman for whom I used to babysit. That sounds really weird, and I’m not sure how one man feels about knowing another man who used to babysit his wife, but it’s true. Her family lived down the block. Our families became friends, and in fact, still are.

But I also feel I should tell you why I stopped babysitting for them. It all began the night a fuse blew in their house. Upon venturing into the basement to fix the blown fuse, I discovered there before me one of the most glorious sights my eyes had ever seen. I almost missed it as I walked back up the stairs, but resting on a shelf at the base of the stairs sat the mother of all baseball card collections. It belonged to Caleb’s future father-in-law, Rich. Being a younger lad of limited means, I saw dollar signs lighting up all over the place. A cash register cha-chinged in my brain. There was clearly a lot of value to what I was looking at. Before I knew what happened, I “borrowed” a Pete Rose rookie card.

The next day I informed my parents that I was going to sell my old Pete Rose rookie card. My brand new old Pete Rose rookie card. How was I supposed to know that they’d find the fact that I suddenly had a Pete Rose rookie card suspicious? Besides, I was gonna use this money to buy myself a Nintendo. That’s right, the original Nintendo. I sold the card that afternoon for close to a hundred bucks.

However, as parents are often apt to do (particularly mine, for some reason) my thievery was discovered. It wasn’t easy either, I’ll give them that much. They had to prove that my story of trading for the card with an old Chicago public school classmate was malarkey. How could they possibly track down some kid who I hadn’t talked to since we moved out of Chicago? There’s no way!

As it turns out, with my parents, there’s always a way. They found the kid. His name escapes me right now. As it happened, I did make a baseball card trade with this kid where I got a Pete Rose card. But it certainly wasn’t a rookie. He remembered this and explained as much to my mother as she spoke to him on the phone. Kids, a word of advice: if your parents are ever active members of the PTA, dig around in their crap until you find any and all traces of phone numbers for other parents. Trust me on this one.

So, I was discovered. My parents, or as I like to call them Miss Marple and Matlock, got to the bottom of my little charade and it was time for me to pay the price. As I think about it now, I can’t help but wonder what my parents would have done if I hadn’t gotten into trouble like this from time to time. I mean how boring would that have been? And what would I have to look back on now? The honor roll? Perfect attendance? What would that have gotten me that getting caught shoplifting couldn’t? (Ironically, when I was caught shoplifting, it was also baseball cards. Maybe that was just a commodity I should have stayed away from.) So, Mom and Dad, when you’re shopping for me for Christmas this year, keep in mind how much action I added to your lives. Did Meg do stuff like that? I don’t think so.

So anyway, my dad made me buy back the card from the store I’d sold it to. But he made me pay the store’s marked up price, even though the guy offered to sell it back for the same amount. That hurt.

But the worst part came when I had to look Rich in the face and tell him I stole this card.

I’ll never forget standing in his driveway and handing the card back to him. What made it so awful was that he’s the nicest guy in the world. I mean it literally might be possible that he’s the nicest guy in the entire world. He sort of laughed it off as I stood with tears of guilt and shame trickling down my cheeks. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like a bigger asshole. And I don’t think I ever stole anything again.

As I look back on it, it’s sort of remarkable that I didn’t take more cards that night. Because that thing was full of ’em. I didn’t look through them all, like I would today — as a fan and an appreciator — I just plucked what I spotted on top. Pete Rose. Funny how no matter what that poor guy does, Pete Rose always manages to get his name mixed up in some controversy.

Anyway, Caleb already knows that story. I told it to him not long ago and I believe that he and Rich have had a good laugh over it since. So check out Caleb’s new WordPress blog here.

As for his father-in-law, Rich, well he’s an accomplished author who’s published several books. Read more about them and order them here. And buy some of his stuff. Especially if you’re from Chicago. They’d make great holiday gifts.

And as a closing point of interest, I got a Nintendo from Santa Claus that year for Christmas. Clearly Saint Nick is a forgiving man.

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