The Zombies Ate My Brains

Rescuing what might remain of the grey matter.

Obsession

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

sears catalog

Mid 1970’s catalog. My guitar similar to the one in the upper-right.

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!

BuckEyes

Scrooge McMaggie… um, McDuck

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.

***   ***   ***   ***   ***  ***

Inspired by the Daily Prompt
Sears Catalog Photo 

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.)

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Categories: Daily Post, Personal Growth

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33 replies

  1. I remember searching for bottles behind stores at I could cash them in at Piggly Wiggly.

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  2. It’s a small world after all… 😀 I remember cashing in coupons like that. My obsession (that cost something) was skis. Fortunately, I had a job that paid $.85/hour and my dad insisted that it was my job and my money. Skis, bindings and boots at the time cost $110. I was very happy the day I was able to buy them. My aunt Martha gave me lessons for Christmas. The challenge was getting to the slopes. http://marthakennedy.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/obsession/

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    • We, as in the blogging community “we” do have our similarities, yes? Did you and do you ski much? Might I assume that you are named for you Aunt?

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      • I can’t ski anymore because both my knees are toast. Injuries leading to arthritis (one injury from skiing). I am named for my Aunt Martha and that is an honor. She was wonderful. I was never a good skier but I always had a LOT of fun.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Just love the memories this post brought back for me! But I never EVER recall stores doing that with coupons?? Wow. Talk about your get rich quick schemes. Remember those stamp books? I was pretty young. What could you get if you filled books of stamps and exactly what was the purpose of that besides your mouth getting that yucky taste in it? Do you have any old video of you strumming guitar??

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  4. i had and still have all kinds of weird fixations. Diseases, rainbows, skeletons, giant squid.

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  5. While your Dad has been the source of much laughter, I find it really nice that your Mum was … like she was. 🙂

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  6. I certainly remember driving by my crush’s house! And being obsessed with getting a horse for my birthday, or Christmas. . . many years! And that was NEVER going to happen! I did finally get to take riding lessons though. . . I enjoyed this post, Maggie! Dixie

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    • Thanks for reading, Dixie! A lot of girls had this passion for horses, do you think? Was it because of Elizabeth Taylor and National Velvet?
      I used to enjoy drawing horses as a girl, but owning was never a goal. I actually ended up owning a couple of horses during my first marriage. That was a bazillion years ago.

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  7. The grocery store near my house when I was little would let me cash in coupons, too. I made some good cash that way when I was a kid. I’m glad you got your guitar! 🙂

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  8. I swear, Maggie, I read what you write and feel I’m reading about myself. Recently on my blog I’ve been exploring my childhood obsession with talent. I yearned for a talent that I’d never, ever hide under a bushel. I was confused.

    I enjoyed browsing your blog this morning and will be back for more visits with you.

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  9. Hello Aunt Beulah! Thanks for stopping in to say hello. When you mention talent, it reminds me of a TV program I used to watch every Saturday afternoon – “Tiny Talent Time” hosted by Uncle Bill. (!) I wanted so badly to be on that program, but I had no particular talent. I decided I would recite a poem. Not memorize it, no, just read it from a book. 🙄

    I will have to stop by to read your blog!

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  10. Great story. What kid of our generation can’t relate to the expectation that if you wanted something, you had to work for it yourself? I don’t recall being able to cash in coupons though. It appears that this might have been one of those great secrets I was never privy to. Damn.

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  11. Earworms! That’s funny. I like that.

    I enjoyed taking walks after dinner with friends. When the Bottle Bill first passed in 1983, we bought our groceries with the bottles and cans that we found during those walks. We had taken up wearing our backpacks for collecting them. I learned this kind of behavior from my mother: she bought dishes and kitchen appliances with Betty Crocker points and trading stamps, and by opening accounts at banks.

    I had heard of the coupon cashing, and that stores stopped it when they got in trouble for turning in more coupons than the number of items that they actually bought from the distributor.

    Thanks for this nostalgic post, Maggie 🙂

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    • Hi Grace – it sounds as if you and I have similar upbringing.
      Reiner and I were musing about what must have happened to bring an end to the coupon bonanza at the grocery store… he figured that the stores were “cashing in” and not selling product, just as you confirmed.

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Trackbacks

  1. Writing 101, Day Three: Commit to a Writing Practice and Music, Music, Music | The Zombies Ate My Brains
  2. Infinity Dreams Award | Weaver Grace

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