Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Love of Booty

Last night, I completed my Federal and State tax forms and didn't fret too much over what's been doled out. It's in everyone's interest to support the infrastructure and services of this great country. And yet even though I reason, there's always at least a little tug about letting some of that hard earned cash go.

It's interesting to me that the first time I ever earned a paycheck was on our nation's Bicentennial. Back in '76, I was six years old and was making money. It's true, and this is not a story about child labor laws. No, I was old enough to enter our local swimming pool's penny dive contest, held every year as part of games on the Fourth of July.

As if it was yesterday, I can still feel the piercing sun on my tanned shoulders while scanning the hundreds of sparkling pennies scattered on the pool's floor a few feet below the water's shimmering surface. Lust and greed filled my eyes as I plotted my success. The voice of our swim team coach, Jim Wheeler, boomed clearly over the Peavy amplifier that doubled as his rock band's amp during post swim-meet parties, where he covered Clapton, the Stones, Beatles and whatever's best. He raised the starting gun to the sky as I pulled the goggles through my straw hair and over my eyes. "Swimmers take your mark..." -- butterflies filled my stomach -- "Get set" -- a quick gulp of air -- "BANG!"

I plunged in and meticulously began scooping up coins. The weak would dive for a single penny at a time; the strong by the fistfuls before dumping their treasure on the deck above. In the end, I believe that I pulled in 86 cents. Not bad for a little feller!

Last week, I was reminded about the penny dive while running home from work. Scattered across four different locations over my five mile run home, I found a total of $1.05 on the street: a dime by UPC, a quarter at 30th and Burt, followed by another dime and quarter at 35th and Burt and finally another dime and quarter at 45th and Military. What's funny about this was that I almost never find any booty on the street; in the rare case when I score, it's only been once per run. But four times, now that was something! In fact, I was beginning to suspect somebody like EB was flippantly tossing coins from his bike for his own entertainment just ahead of me. I half expected to find a quarter super-glued to the ground. (I'd still be there).

Ah, the constant struggle over giving it away versus the love of money. Since 1976 when I hauled in my first paycheck to last's week's run, I realize that I haven't outgrown that simple pleasure.

Oh well, add it to the list.

Now excuse me while I scuff my knees with sandpaper and kneel in rubbing alcohol.


  1. Good viewpoint--taxes are the dues we pay in this Country-Club we call America. Sometimes Judge Smails is in charge of the club, sometimes it's Al Cerzek, and Karl the Groundskeeper can be viewed as the electroate masses. (Or maybe Lacy can represent the masses--ROOOARRR!) Regardless of who is in charge, the fairways need to be areated, the greens have to be mowed and the gofers have to be killed. That takes some dolla-bills y'all.

    I learned the difference between Capitalism and Communism (modern day Socialism) in Mad Magazine years ago. The quote went something like this:
    In Capitalism, Man exploits Man.
    In Communism/Socialism, it's the other way around.

    Ultimately paying taxes is a good problem to have because no matter who is in charge, someone is getting the better end of the deal, and it will flip once again.

    so....will you declare your found booty on the 2009 1040?

  2. No, I didn't declare the $1.05. I also didn't declare the credit for the really nice pair of NorthFace glove liners I lost last month.

    The way I see it, I only have to repeat finding a buck in change on the street over 30 more runs to recoup the cash for the missing gloves.

    Someone is definitely getting the better deal here.

  3. Speaking of Judge Smails, do you think people at the club will think it's weird that the family who lives three doors down from the site of your idyllic childhood memory shows up in scuba suits for penny diving day?

  4. Hey emiss! Welcome to the party section of WSCG!

    As for penny diving day: if properly timed, announcing your visit while yelling "DOO-DEE!!" will not only grant you the entire pool to yourselves, but you'll also pull in the entire motherload of pennies. Probably the pool record.

    Then again, that record may remain safely held by Beaver Johnson. <== no joke, Beaver held a number of pool age group records at GHCC when we moved away in '87. As they say, you can look him up!