The URL of the daily prompt first brought to mind earworms, those tunes that stick and for better or worse you can’t get them out of your head. The body of the prompt asks if I’ve ever been obsessed with something.* If I connect the musical aspect of earworm with obsession, I remember the guitar I wanted when I was a preteen.
In those days, if I wanted a guitar, I needed to pay for it myself. In the late 1960’s, a guitar cost $25 from the Sears catalog. My sources of income were
- My paper route
- Soda pop bottles
The profit from my paper route was meager, and besides, Mom had her hand out. If I was making money, then I was contributing to the household cash flow.
The refund on a pop bottle was 2¢. My brothers and I scoured the neighbourhood looking for empties. You can bet that more than once we tussled over who saw the Pepsi Cola trademark first. After all, I needed close to 1200 in order to make my purchase.
At least we did our part to keep the community clean.
The big cash cow, however, was the newspaper and the coupons. In those days, the grocery store in our neighbourhood had a customer service counter near the entrance, not unlike you’d find today. Here you could buy smokes, a magazine, and return those empty pop bottles. The difference, though, is that this store would redeem coupons at face value without a purchase. Bonanza!
Combine that bit of good fortune with the fact that the newspaper was loaded with coupons, I figured I’d be strumming the old six-string in no time.
Unfortunately, I was not an only child. Mom declared that we three kids were to share the bounty on a three-week rotation. I accepted the routine, but not happily. If, on one of my off-weeks, a brother came away with $5.00 in coupon cash, I’d stomp and “it’s not fair” my way to my room for a good sulk. If, on a good week of my own, I’d clip $3.50 worth from the paper, I’d gloat as if my lesser amount was somehow superior. Not all that likeable, was I?
It was after one of those charming episodes that mom took action. The first time I heard the word obsess was when she scolded me about my fixation. I think it was a kind of intervention.
I never did find enough money for the guitar. That’s because I stopped saving sometime just before Christmas. I was snooping in mom’s room and found… you guessed it. My parents bought me a guitar for Christmas.
As I write, it occurs to me that perhaps she meant all along to get me a guitar for Christmas. Her intervention that day was her way tempering my obsession for my sake.
On second thought, it is more likely that Jean was tired of listening to my harangues and she purchased the guitar for her peace of mind.
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The body of the daily prompt asks if I’ve ever been obsessed with something. *D’uh. Which self-respecting adolescent hasn’t? After all, the distance between a crush and obsession is measured by the stalking quotient, yes? You’ve made excuses to find yourself in your crush’s neighbourhood even though it’s miles out of your way and you have to get there on foot, haven’t you? (Please say you have, even though you might be telling a little white lie.)