Thursday, December 6, 2012

All I Needed was some Plutonium

In 1987, I had been collecting baseball cards for eight years, and was already filled with wild ideas and aspirations.  Fresh off a viewing of Back to the Future, I had devised a scheme to crush Mr. Mint and conquer the card collecting world…  My 12 year old self was convinced that sometime in the future I’d discover time travel.   

Taken in context, it didn’t seem farfetched to me, given that I’d already tried to bring my GI Joe action figures to life in a Weird Science inspired experiment with Sgt. Slaughter, a wire hanger and an electrical outlet.  In retrospect, my pubescent self should have used Scarlett or Lady Jane in those trial experiments just in case they were successful.

Alas, that soiree into alternating current and conductive metal did not result in a real-life action hero.  In fact, it grounded me (no pun intended).  It made me realize that my gangly adolescent being had no earthly idea how to build a time machine…  But that did not prevent me from believing that my future self wouldn’t know how to create a time machine.  Equipped with this temporal-bending faith and love of baseball cards, I began to hatch a Wellsian-plan.

My goal, as (presumably) the first time traveler was not to view the dinosaurs; witness the birth of Christ; prevent Hitler from gaining power; or prevent numerable assassinations or disasters.  No, it was much more juvenile, much more me.  My plan was to travel to 1952 and buy any and all packs of 52 Topps I could find.

Ludicrous, right?  I mean, how can a kid travel back in time?  How can a kid have the money needed to buy tons of 1952 Topps?  As for the time travel part, I’d already written that off to fate.  Future-me would solve that problem.  Twelve-year old me’s job was to solve the financial problem.

Mindless of the fact that if future-me was able to create time travel, then I’d have infinite opportunities to collect the money needed to secure my booty of 52s.  Ignoring this logical thread in an illogical premise, I set about, you guessed it, coin collecting.  I knew that I couldn’t go back in time to 1952 with a pocket full of change with dates younger than 1952.  I had to have period-money. 

So, every night I’d riffle through my Dad’s change dish on top of his dresser.  Every day, I’d pilfer through my Mom’s pocketbook searching for wheat pennies.  After a month, I’d amassed an impressive amount of 1952 and older coins.  At 1 cent a card, I had enough to purchase several hundred brand spanking new 1952 Topps.

But, this sip didn’t quench my thirst.  Soon, I began sorting all of my change (and my parents’) into sandwich bags labeled from 1952 to 1978.  My plan had expanded from just 1952 into all the years that I didn’t have many or any cards.  For six months, I canvassed every cash register floor, probed every payphone coin return, and checked under every cushion. 

Eventually, my desire for time travel waned, as I realized the preposterous futility of the quest.  Yet, laid before my 12 year old self was over $75 in coins from years ranging from the rise of Third Reich to the dawn of Ronald Regan’s administration.  And what did this genius do with all those REAL silver and copper minted coins do?  Damn straight, I spent it all on baseball cards.  1987 Topps to be exact.  Doh!   

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