Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 73

Cast of Characters:
Paul: age 35
Mal: my wife
Adam: age 10
Cassy: age 5


I worked hard to earn my living as a seller of comic books, toys, sports cards, and collectibles and was rewarded with a fun place to work, relationships with some really nice people, and a sizeable income. Our lifestyle was not extravagant; money was spent carefully and most of it was saved and invested. My biggest “splurge” was usually spent on a nice vacation.

When I was in my teen years, my family would usually go camping for our family vacation each year. My mother and father would pack up the car with the tent, lanterns, sleeping bags, and tons of other equipment, along with the six kids, and we’d head off to the mountains of New Hampshire or Maine to spend the week “roughing it.” Although I usually put up a fuss about going, I’d end up enjoying the vacation. My father would spend time hiking, boating, and playing around with us. My mother ended up doing more work “on vacation” than she did when she was at home. Cooking and cleaning was much more work at a campsite than at home. It didn’t seem right to me. Now that I could afford a little more “luxury” for our vacations, I wanted it to be fun for my wife, Mal, too. We would usually stay in decent hotels and we’d eat in restaurants as often as possible. But Mal and I also wanted our kids to experience camping.

Our friends, Brian and Claire, invited us all to go camping with them for a couple of days. Brian knew that camping wasn’t high on my list of fun things to do so to entice me to commit to this trip, he offered to have the tent set up by the time we arrived. Brian spent time fishing and canoeing with my children, and Claire was patient enough to include the kids while we all played cards. Although we had a great time with Brian and Claire, our camping trip was still plagued by the usual camping hardships including sleeping on the cold, hard ground, waking up feeling all damp, and being attacked by gnats and mosquitoes. For years, we’d joke that we took the kids on this camping trip so they’d be motivated to work and study hard in school so they could get a good job so they could afford to stay in a nice hotel and they’d never have to camp again.

I’ve told you about this camping trip as a “lead-in” for my real story. The night before we met Brian and Claire on the camping trip, Mal decided to hide her jewelry. Mal didn’t own a lot of valuable items but she did have things that were meaningful to her. She had her high school ring, her original, small engagement ring, the special rings I gave her when she gave birth to our two children, a ring her mother wore, and some other pieces like that. We didn’t have a safe to store our valuables in at the time and although we had an alarm system, we thought it would make sense to simply hide the jewelry. Mal placed the small jewelry box filled with jewelry in the bottom of a small wastebasket and then placed a trash bag inside, on top of the jewelry. She made sure that I knew it was there so I wouldn’t throw it away by mistake. Then, the next morning we went camping.

We returned home on Thursday night after our fun camping trip. We were scheduled to leave for a week long vacation in Disney World early on Saturday morning so we were busy on Friday getting all of our last minute errands and details taken care of in preparation for the trip. As Mal was finishing her packing of our clothes for the trip she said, “Paul, could you get my jewelry for me?” I asked her where she had put it and I was shocked when she told me that she hadn’t taken it out of our wastebasket. It was gone! I had wrongly assumed that she had taken it out of the wastebasket as soon as we had gotten home on Thursday but she hadn’t. I had emptied all of the wastebaskets on Friday morning and put them out for the rubbish company to pick up on Friday morning. All of her special rings, necklaces, and pins were now buried at the dump.

Since it was late at night, and we were scheduled to leave early the next morning, there was nothing that we could do to recover the jewelry. We called my mother and told her the story. She took some of my brothers to the dump the next day and they spent hours digging through the trash piles looking for the box of jewelry. They convinced the dump’s bulldozer driver to help by uncovering and moving large piles of trash. The jewelry box was never found. Maybe someday, many years in the future, some kid will be digging around and they’ll find an actual treasure chest buried there.

Next chapter: Neil Gaiman, the creator of DC Comics Sandman comes to town!

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