Saturday, July 10, 2004


Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

I haven't gone out of my way to deceive people many times in my life. In fact there is only one that I time that I can recall when I truly tricked someone into giving me something that they normally wouldn't have. Sadly, it was my mother that was the subject of my deception.

In 1983 my mother, my two sisters, and myself moved into a duplex with my mother's boyfriend. Not that I knew it at that point but it was probably the toughest point, financially speaking, that our family ever had to endure. I never knew that the "special bills" that mom was buying groceries with were food stamps. I didn't know that the cheese, butter, and honey that we got from the local church were food for people on welfare. So, of course, my sisters decided that was the perfect time to hoodwink our mother into buying us something that no one our age should have had.

Most of the time that we spent around our house revolved around listening to music. All of my memories of our house at that point have some sort of music playing in the background, so it's safe to say that the stereo (with 8-track deck) was almost always on. I remember sitting down with my sisters and listening to the weekly top 40 with Rick Dees and writing down the Billboard top 40 songs from week to week. It all sounds so wholesome doesn't it?

Because we didn't have a lot of money, we never really had any of our own albums, or 8-tracks, to listen to. So, we got a pretty steady diet of Barry Manilow and Billy Joel. Where should a 9-year-old boy, and his 12 and 13-year-old sisters turn to to escape from this musical prison? Our answer came printed on the back of "Parade" magazine in the Sunday newspaper.

Each week, my sisters and I would look at the back of that "magazine" from the Wisconsin State Journal and pick out our 10 selections from the Columbia House advertisement.

"It's only a penny Mom!"

"We've all picked out 3 albums that we want. Please!"

After weeks and months of badgering, she relented and let us place the order in her name.

My sisters had picked out recent top 40 hit albums. Foreigner's Four. Journey's Escape. All 80's rock. It's not like my mother would have thought that the albums that I had chosed were any different from the popular music that my sisters had picked. In fact, I think she might have mistaken Eddie Murphy for Eddie Money. Also, I'm not sure when she realized that her copy of George Carlin's Class Clown had been removed from the box that it packed away in and had found it's way into my room.

I have to admit that I did feel bad for tricking my mother into purchasing two albums that I had no business listening to as a nine year old. In fact I felt so guilty, that I kept the Foreigner and Journey albums as a form of punishment for the way I pulled the wool over my mother's eyes. There was no way I would have kept the Rick Springfield album though. No one deserves that kind of punishment.


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