Huzah!!! Hello again Retro Readers.
Before reading - If you judge this article based on moral code of conduct it is sure to fail. This is not one of my prouder moments in life as you will soon find out, but it is a really funny story. So just read it casually and know that all the added emphasis is not me being an A-hole. It's just the only way to tell the story properly. Enjoy!
For my second article (my first one is called "A day in the life - Summer 1995") I'd like to share but a small story from my childhood. A token story. One of my favorites. One that involves a little cunning, a little wit, a A LOT of scamming, and even more humor. I think that even the most intellectual among us will still find this article....say..amusing? Damn I was so cunning when I was young. What happened?
I wish I had thought to put this on here earlier, this is a great story. I get a little smirk on my face just thinking about it.
When a young child seems stacked against all odds, there is still a way, still some small way to make things work out for the best. Even if it involves a little...shall we say, bending of the system?? - Socrates? fooled you! - Me
*The beginning of summer 1999*
I HAD to have one...what lay before my eyes was absolute childhood gold. A cleverly marketed commercial for the GameBoy Color was captivating me beyond anything else I had ever seen. EVER. My jaw dropped as I saw the GameBoy was now in color! I couldn't believe it. Was I dreaming?
SIDE NOTE: (According to wikipedia the GBC was released in North America on November 19, 1998 so by this time it had already been out for a few months. I just wanted to see if my memory was correct. it is. read on)
I HAAAD to have one. But how?
Geez, the GameBoy was expensive enough, but the GameBoy Color??? ...forget about it...and in an instant I realized that my dream of owning a GameBoy color was far beyond my grasp. It was summertime and my birthday was in September! That's like four months away? Four months of utter agony! I needed my fix and I needed it now! but how? Harsh reality set it, "I'll probably never own a GameBoy Color" I thought, "...never"
Utter Dispare...How would I overcome this?
I sat, still.....silent.
I was no longer looking at the T.V. but instead staring blankly into the carpet in a daze of confusion, bewilderment, and an ounce of hope thinking of ways to come up with 70 bucks.....nope, nothin'. "How??" i thought "why is this so hard, why is the world so cruel?"
I couldn't think of anything. ANY way of coming up with 70 bucks. It seemed like an insurmountable odd and at the time...it was. I was only 13 or 14. I didn't have 70 bucks just laying around!
Just a little cash is all I needed
So where does all this scamming come into play...? read forth my most excellent retrojunk readers, read forth...
It gets better....just wait
Here's where the story gets good. real good.
Ya know, just your average youth group kid
The following Sunday, sitting in church youth group with a couple of friends, our youth pastor started talking about a contest that was going to be held and last throughout the summer.
This caught my attention. It caught ALL of our attention.
Our youth pastor (Chip) slowly reached into a bag he was holding and pulled out a can of SURGE and lifted it up into the air...
"SURGE" he said.... (he had some stupid acronym for SURGE but I cant remember what it was, something a long the lines of - Serving Under a Righteous God Everyday.) Actually, that was probably it.
My heart began to stir. It definitely skipped a few beats. I was excited.
I looked over at the fellas and we all kind of gave each other this look of "dude, whats the prize? this shit actually might be worth doing". My friends and I were never the type to take part in such shenanigans unless there was something of value to be obtained at the end. A pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if you will. There was ALWAYS some goody goody girl who would win these types of things, so we just stopped trying. A loner, uhh maybe a few friends but they were all like a collective. Always sat together, always ate together, ALWAYS were on the same team during games. They stuck to themselves and weren't unpleasant by any means, they just didn't branch out too much. (I always kind of felt sorry for these kids) The type who always kind of stayed to themselves. Like the borg. I mean the borg are pretty unpleasant but...well...you get what i mean. or maybe not but whatever...back to the story.
Your typical youth group loner might look like this. Don't tell me this isn't true, you know it is.
Male version of your typical youth group loner
Chip then reached into the bag again and held up.....holy crap balls...is that....? yes my friends a brand new crisp 100 dollar bill............yeah, i know..
It might as well had been a GAME BOY color
I sat, silent...again....gathered myself and looked back at the fellas and we all gave each other a nod of approval.
But what was the contest?? How could I win this hundred bucks???
Chip was still holding up the can of SURGE and the hundy as a group of 50 or so Sunday school youth-group kids gasped with aww.
You could hear the quiet whisper about the room...
At this moment, just seconds after the announcement I had made up my mind that I, yes I, was going to win this contest and buy a brand new Kiwi colored GAME BOY Color! NO......MATTER.......WHAT! PERIOD.
NOTHING WOULD STAND IN MY WAY. NOTHING.
(Guys I wanted a GBC more than anything in the world.)
"Guys...." Chip said softly. "All summer long, in your individual Discipleship groups, you're going to be given the task of memorizing certain important parts of scripture....It's simple guys...whoever memorizes the most scripture and recites it to his or her "D-group" leader AND GAINS APPROVAL BY SIGNATURE of that D-group leader that you actually memorized it and performed it in front of the group during your session wherever that may be.. and obtains the most points...(run on sentence)....gets the BRAND NEW HUNDRED DOLLAR BILL"
I've got this on lockdown
I thought to myself for a moment, "that's not actually all that bad. I can do this"
As summer progressed I started memorizing the assigned Bible verses a long with the "extra credit" verses and when at D-group I would recite the verses and get my D-group leaders signature.
However, I picked up on the fact that he was REALLY slack about signing the "credits or point cards". He would just sign whatever I put in front of him AND since certain verses were worth more points, I could just put the bigger point cards in front of him and get BIG credit for a small verse AND that he left the bag of point cards unattended after we were done with the meeting...
....I took advantage of all of these "verse point" opportunities and had soon amassed an incredible unbeatable amount of points. My leader NEVER knew anything of what was going on and actually bragged about me. I felt no remorse, no shame.
To me the ends DEFINITELY justified the means.
I rationalized it to myself by saying "nobody is going to die from this, keep going you're almost there."
One day after a D-group meeting I stole like...I don't know, a few thousand points and he signed them all!!! That was A LOT. big verses were worth like 50 points. I was stealing by the thousands. A couple here, a couple there. I was probably bankrolling a few thousand every time our group would met.
My leader addressed our group at the end of one meeting in particular. "Ben, man you're doing great. You're in first...by a lot. I've been talking with other group leaders and nobody's even close hahaha, you're blowing the competition out the water son. Good job. I think there's one girl with like 3,400 points. She's in second, but you've got like 27,300 so you're good. I mean you could even stop if you wanted."
I made a few more slick attempts at getting some points, memorized some short verses. Recited it to the group and made another easy 4500 points. Chump change by this time. suckers.. got em again.
Finally came the day of reckoning. When I was going to get my crisp hundy in hand. IN MY HANDS CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!!
Me showing some kid all my points
Kids getting scammed
Yup, these kids too. I'm cleaning house!!
When I got to church, everything was in slow motion...my pockets were overflowing with "verse points"...I didn't walk across the room, I floated like a champion. Like Kenny Powers had just gotten his arm back. One fell out of my pocket worth a mere 1,500 points. huh ha ha ha ha, chump change. fools...I didn't even need it. Victory was guaranteed.
Kenny Powers himself!
Other groups had heard of this verse king, but who was he? I would overhear people's conversations at church...
"Oh yeah there's one kid with like 17,000 or something like that, I just stopped trying". (little did they know the tally was now an astounding 32,000 or something redic like that) "Hey dude, aren't you the kid with a ton of points" I'd just smile and let out a little chuckle saying "yeah man, I really wanted that money. It's weird because i never do stuff like this!! huh huh...." i'd turn away awkwardly... and they'd reply "nice job man, good stuff".
I was taking saps like these to the bank
I had to remind myself to keep a low profile. "Is anybody catching on? I can't believe I'm ACTUALLY getting away with this, this is insane!" I was almost there and I didn't want trip anybody's alarm. especially Chips because I didn't want to lie to him. and by that time i had come WAY too far to back out, i made up my mind i was just going to lie if i was questioned. I was a little nervous like a retired CIA agent who thinks the KGB are still hot on his trail. I was like one of those guys with drugs strapped to his body on "locked up abroad" the nervousness hit me like a wave of doubt all at once...the finish line was so close...all i had been dreaming about was my brand new kiwi colored GAME BOY color.
Me nervous...almost there
All I could think about was that scene from Star Wars where Porkins is almost to the weak spot on the death star..his lust for glory and hatred for the Empire drive him to make the mistake of not checking his suroundings...well we all know what happened to Porkins...I definitely didn't want to end up like ol' Porkins
Exaclty, you better believe i was watching my six
should'a used the force dude. RIP
Then it happened......someone had caught on to my scheme....my heart sank...deep, and my face turned a little red...
....as I strolled into Sunday school I was approached by some kid from across the room. a.k.a Captain Doosh. He HAD to have been looking for me because he looked pissed. "Dude, are you the kid with a million points" "yeah man hu hu huh that's me!" I replied in a nervous manner. "dude...you HAD to have cheated...i mean what do you have like over 30,000 points" (pull it together Ben.. PULL IT TOGETHERRR!! YOU'RE ALMOST THERE) and then i just replied in a confident manner and tone. "Nah man i just wanted that money, no cheating here. i memorized a lot of stuff man. ask my D-group leader" He eyeballed me for a second and then let down his guard. "congrats man, you deserve it"
WHEEEEW that was CLOSE. "Who was that? what's going on here? what is this the questioning hour??? was that one of Chip's spies???" I had seriously dodged a bullet on that one. I continued to look over my shoulder like a retired Vietnam Vet.
I thought to myself.....just sit down, shut up, get your money, go home. for heaven's sake (pun intended) just get your loot and get out of there!! By this time I had no more friends, everyone was an enemy in my way of obtaining a brand new GBC. NO ONE could be trusted anymore. It was me vs. the youth-group ( i know that sounds awful) but it's true. I had scammed them all. this was deep...and i was AALLLL IN baby.
Sunday School started and Chip came up to center stage...
"Alright!!! today is well you know by now...the last day of our SURGE contest...and we have a winner BOY do we have a winner...Ben...please come to center stage and receive your prize."
Again, everything was in slow motion...
Chip pulled the hundy out. I walked forward and claimed my prize and nearly shit my pants.
"kids were staring at me with HUGE smiles on their faces and clapping...oh they were clapping alright" I felt kind of bad but whatever. The feeling of owning a GAME BOY color far out weighed any feelings of guilt that i had. nobody was hurt right? Little did they know that they had just been HAD. Involved in what is still probably the biggest scam they've ever been a part of.
Chip gave me the microphone "Ben what are you going to buy with it?"
not desiring the label of nerd I just said "uhh..I havent really gotten that far yet, we'll see."
"Alright well lets give it up one more time for Ben!!"
I walked back to my seat amongst cheers and plenty of "Ben dude give me some money dude you've got a hundred bucks" no way dudes. mine all mine.
I took my money a long with a six pack of surge and some candy back to my seat. After church when we went home I asked my mom if she'd take me to the store and she agreed. We went to Best Buy with my friend josh where I purchased my kiwi colored GAME BOY color and the skateboard game 720 (which sucks by the way) it was between Link's Awakening DX and 720 and I picked 720. A HORRIBLE mistake, as Link's Awakening would go on to become one of my favorite games of all time after I would soon fall in love with everything zelda.
I hope you enjoyed this small tale from my childhood and I hope you got a few laughs. Thanks for reading!