Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Falling On My Face in the Middle of Memory Lane.

A long time ago, in the beginning half of my very first decade, I decided that I would have a sale of my stuff to make some money to go buy new toys for myself. Something new was out at the time, something like a She-Ra toy or a My Little Pony that I really desperately wanted.
I gathered up a lot of toys and took them outside and put price tags on them. Things that I thought were completely reasonable, but I was quickly told were too much. Like I was asking $10 for some of my stuffed animals, and at a garage sale like I was having they should be something like $2.
Except I didn't think they were worth $2, I liked these toys and wanted money equal to my love for them. But Mom changed hte price tags for me and we went outside.
I sold quite a few things and made something that seemed like a lot of money to me at the time, probably $5.
I have two distinct memories of this event. One was of an adult cheating and lying to me, and the other was of me not thinking ahead.
The adult that cheated on me was my friend's Mom. I was selling my Strawberry Shortcake pets -you know, the little crows and puppies and kitties that came along with the dolls- for 25 cents each. My friend's Mom called me down and handed me a quarter and held out her hand. I said that it was a quarter for each one, and that wasn't enough. She said she'd just paid for all of them and I owed her the toys. I was holding on to them fiercely while my good friend was dying in the front seat of the car waiting at the curb, embarrassed by what was going on.
Finally when I wouldn't give her the toys, insisting on my price, she literally scooped them out of my hands and drove off, leaving me there with only quarter in my pocket, buy 5 of those little pets in hers.
My mom looked on in surprise. When I told her what had happened, she looked at me and said "she must not have understood," and that was it.
Way to go letting me get ripped off by another adult. I just have to say that. I was pretty clear about the price (I think I originally wanted a dollar each for them, too, as was equal to my love of playing with them) and ended up losing some toys I was iffy on selling to begin with. Basically, 4 of them were outright stolen. And I got an "oh well, it wasn't clear."
I will probably get an email about this in a day or two, so perhaps i should state that this was my incredulous frame of mind at the time and now it is more a memory than an actual sensation or thought. It shocked me that adults behaved that way, and it was the first time I'd seen it. And let me tell you, I LOVED Strawberry Shortcake's puppy, and it had just walked off for 5 cents.

I went to play at that same friend's house a few days later and saw my toys all over the floor of her sister's room. Very disgraceful and uncaring of them, I thought. And since she had only paid for one, I went to her and asked which one she liked the best. She told me, and I promptly collected the rest up and put them in my pockets. Let me stress, once more, that this was because she didn't PAY FOR THEM. But her mother saw them in my pockets, forced me to leave them there, then sent me home. I believe she even called my mom and told her I wasn't welcome because I'd been stealing toys from her daughters.
Even now I feel a twinge at this. The extent to which adults will go to maintain a lie, to be ~right~, in the face of someone who is much, much smaller and weaker can seem disgusting. And the fact that I was yelled at for stealing as if I were a bad person just confused the hell out of my young mind. I certainly didn't think I was doing anything wrong, but I was treated as if I were someone horrible. I think my Mom didn't pursue it when she got the phone call after I explained why I'd thought it was okay, but really I don't remember the final outcome. I just knew that when I went out riding bikes and she ran in to the house to get sodas, those things were tantalizingly close and I was forbidden to enter because I might take them. Over a fucking dollar, y'all. A fucking dollar. Because she didn't want to admit she was wrong.
You know, some people find out adults lie by seeing that their parents are putting presents under the tree instead of Santa. Or they realize the dog didn't run away or go to a nice farm, it's dead. I got branded a liar and a thief by someone deep in the midst of the kettle-v-pot scenario who was supposed to be responsible. And as you can see, that has obviously affected me deeply since I still recall it over 20 years later. At my base I don't trust people to be true with themselves or their motivations for doing things, perhaps even just downright unaware of them. There have been many times when I've acted a certain way, left the situation, then sat there utterly baffled trying to decipher where behaviors came from that I don't normally exhibit. Maybe that happened with her and she was backed in to a corner. Who knows. But from this I drew that adults were human, and fallible. And somewhere in there I also decided that because I could see this, I was also smarter than them. This made for some problems later in elementary school.
On with the happy fest.
The other incident that I remember from this day was selling a snoopy doll. This snoopy doll had a string loose on his nose, and was a little bit smudged and dirt, but otherwise lovable. I later learned that my father had gotten him for my brother and I at a store on Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco, from a little store there. Basically, it was not something that could easily be replaced.
So I sold it. I sold it for that $2, I believe. To my neighbor across the street, one Richard Baker (but pronounced as if it had an "aw" in it, and boy did I tease him for that.) who put it on his shelf.
Later that evening I realized that I usually slept with or played with a lot of these toys I'd chosen to sell. Snoopy was my bed-buddy, and I usually curled up with him at night. And when I realized that my pattern was about to be interrupted and that something near and dear to me was gone, I became very upset.
My mom suggested I go around in the morning and offer to buy back those toys that I'd sold. And so I did, going around and getting most of the toys back that I'd sold, realizing having them around meant more than getting new ones, a mini-Magi moment if you will (and pardoning the alliteration).
It worked fantastically until I went to the door and talked to Richard Baker about buying back my snoopy.
And then Richard Baker... that unforgivably bastard... said NO.
My little mind couldn't wrap around how he could just say no and leave me with $2 while he kept my snoopy. I was giving him his money back, and the laws of decorum stated that the sacred beagle should be mine again.
When I appealed to my parents, and they assured me that since he'd bought it, he could, in fact, say no. And keep Snoopy. And ruin my life forever for not being understanding of the oversight that I'd accidentally sold something beloved unto me for some quick cash without really thinking. Nope. He just wanted it for his shelf.
I begged him once or twice more, until it became something he would taunt me with on occasion, reminding me that it was in his room and not mine. He was a good 2 years older than me, so really it was a tremendous dick maneuver on his part to do so. Especially when he seemed relatively calm and reserved the rest of the time, such sudden bolts of snark from the blue came as a real shock.
Richard Baker, if you're out there and my Snoopy isn't enshrined in Plexiglas or bronzed, I just want you to know that you're a complete dick. And saying "nuclear winter" as the punchline to every discussion you had did not make you cool, just a douche with a one-liner. (I'm not making that up in the midst of my vitriol, he did that once to everything anybody said.)

Usually these sorts of things are cathartic, are they not? Perhaps I'll feel it later. But when I look back on this, I think that perhaps here was the start of my hoarding habits. I lost something near and dear to me, and couldn't get it back. It was, in fact, used against me to hurt me later. So from that time on I was a jealous guardian of all of my possessions, being very hesitant to get rid of anything that had sentimental value, just in case I needed it one day. I also became obsessed with the idea that I could either have the things I had now, or I could have money for newer things and experiences, and this is something that I still see myself struggling with. Not a really healthy mindset.

I never tried to steal Snoopy, probably because I was never IN Richard Baker's house to see him. When I did it was over a year later, and by then I realized that I was sleeping without him, and I didn't have the money to trade back for it. So I left him there on the shelf and made plans to try and get a new one if I ever ended up on Fisherman's Wharf.

Yesterday at some point my ex's current wife tracked me down on yet another website and tried to friend me. This sort of prompted my delving back in to past memories, as seeing that there made me think on things I might be holding on to that it was time to work out.
I'm proud to say that really there was no massive upset. I was just annoyed, as i have no interest in having anything to do with that life now, and really I don't feel it's important for them to keep tabs on me. She got blocked, per usual. It's just weird that it KEEPS happening. Offhand, I do wonder if it's now just to poke at me, or test the waters, or whatever. The unknown is the most alluring about this event, but really... not that alluring. I'm getting on with things slowly but surely. Just occasionally stopping to stumble over nuggets like this that crop up. But then, I did make a concerted effort to clean up the mental space, so maybe this is the sort of dross that'll be cropping up. It'll be good to clean house. :)

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