75 of Everything
“I’ve never had seventy-five of anything,” Grandfather commented, pulling the bear hat off Tabias’ head to ruffle his hair. “Why, back in my day…”
Tabias growled at the impending old man story, “I had to walk seventy-five miles to school, with gators snapping at my heels when I was your age.” He imitated Grandfather sarcastically as he opened another birthday gift.
“The lucky ones got a gift, never seventy-five, though!” Grandfather ignored Tabias the mime.
“It’s my birthday and I’ll…”
Grandfather cut Tabias off, “what in wilds name you gonna do with seventy-five hot wheels?” Tabias had invited both grade four classes, asked for cars only, and now sat in front of a massive pile. The paper tossed to the side as Tabias opened another wrapped toy car. Red convertible, he shrugged and dropped it into the red car pile.
“When did I turn nine? I think nineteen…fifty…three?” Chin hairs cracked and popped as Grandfather concentrated, rubbing his beard. He rocked in the lazy boy chair but every forward swing hit Tabias on the back and rolled over his foxtail (curtesy of Father’s hunt trip); he kept pinned to his board shorts.
Fort St. John was calm for Tabias’ March 23rd birthday but that didn’t change his clothing. The bear hat he wore kept his ears warm. Shirtless with a motto of, “shirts are for girls and cartoon bears.”
“Temerity is not always good quality,” Step-Mother would reply to Tabias’ comment.
Grandfather went on storytelling. Rock of the chair. Tap on Tabias’ back. Pinch over his tail. “Why for seventy-five cents you could get a ham roast, or four bars of soap, or a small tin of coffee…”
Another gift opened, Tabias found a silver Chevy truck. Into the silver pile.
“Your Great Grandmother, wild love her soul, sent me with only enough change to buy that ham.”
Grandfather’s chair continued: rock, tap, pinch. Tabias picked up another gift. Rock, tap, pinch. He ripped the paper off and found a blue mini-van with a peace sign on the side.
“Us kids, we got nothing. The only chance at candy was to pocket it from Mrs. Mac’s store. Hope to wilds she didn’t notice either.” Rock, tap, pinch. Another silver truck.
“Kids these days, don’t bother with change. Dropping quarters into machines to watch them spin,” Grandfather ranted heedlessly. “As if seventy-five-cents weren’t an honest man’s pay! That’s a daily paper editor’s wage from 1944!”
Tabias jumped up suddenly, the last few colorful boxes went flying away, “found it!”
He turned to his Grandfather with a small orange car in his palm.
“The car of conscience?” Grandfather chuckled before he focused on it. The soft top folded perfectly into the trunk, large smiling headlights on the front of the ’75 MGB Roadster.
Tabias held it up for his Grandfather, “just like yours.” He smiled as he gave it to his Grandfather for his own seventy-fifth birthday.
Happy 75th Birthday.