That’s right, it’s time for another How The Hell I Got Myself Into This post. Because it’s Sunday, and I am with good friends we don’t get to see often enough, and am therefore feeling dreamy and reminiscent and full of lovely mixed drinks. So you all are stuck with a genu-wine Nostalgic Moment brought to you by Vikingfjord, that mighty king of potato vodkas.
I am nine, and have discovered the joys of writing on a computer. Our very first desktop sits shiny and imposing in the den, purring loudly every time a key is pressed. Word 4.0 is spread before me in all its black and white glory, and the printer paper, edged with strips of tiny ovals, awaits. My cousin hovers on my right; my little sister and her little sister are on my left, all of us crowded as close as we can manage to the warm white glow coming from the monitor. We are working on our latest and greatest summer-passtime/ money-making-scheme: a newspaper. The Webb Road Newspaper, specifically. It will cost 25 cents, and we will personally deliver it to all 17 houses on the mile-long stretch of pothole-peppered tar that is our turf (this despite the fact that none of them have ordered it). Then we will take our hard earned revenue three miles down to Ricky’s Ice Cream Shoppe and have us some peanutbutter parfaits.
We have to deliver, since we spent the morning knocking on all 17 doors and solemnly asking for news. This is how real reporters do it.
Sadly, from this effort comes only announcements of vacations, new nephews and grandchildren, home improvement, and complaints about elected officials; nothing that catches our attention or seems even a little bit worthy of this austere publication. And so, bereft of things interesting, we have reported on our own vital activities– our family dogs, Charlie and Chester, received summer haircuts for the first time and were very embarrassed; a heron was caught in the chickenwire fence across the street and was rescued by my parents; we stole (borrowed, to our minds) lumber from my father’s garage and spent three days building a four-floor spiral treehouse in a pine tree on our land and had to get haircuts of our own from the sheer volume of pitch that we collected on our heads. Billy Foss leaves wonderful 15 cent bottles when he drives past after 5 pm, and we thank him for contributing to our fundraising efforts. The calves at Ronnie’s farm will suck on your fingers till they bruise if you put your hand through the gate, so watch out.
We argue formatting, spelling, the importance of the feature article concerning the dog haircuts. Cousin 1 is concerned about selling this, and whether we should charge more. Sister and Cousin 2 are discussing the merits of parfaits vs. the more-expensive banana splits. I am thinking that Carolann and Lisa, yet more cousins from down the road, better not try to horn in on this action, because this is OURS.
–I am already, even at this tender age, concerned with copyright, apparently.
Two hours later we’ve printed an undisclosed number of copies (undisclosed because I can’t, frankly, remember how many) and are walking them from door to door. We are astonished at how much we can get for them: our original price of 0.25 is doubled, tripled, quadrupled, and without our even having to bargain, hint, or guilt-trip to achieve this. We return victorious and unexpectedly wealthy, to combine these earnings with the generous if inadvertent contributions of Billy Foss. Then we walk the trek down to the Ice Cream Shoppe in a delirium of success. There is a waxed paper cup under the hutch in my house filled with quarters now, and we are each getting a triple banana split with jimmies and nuts. I have learned the commercial value of the written word at an early age –four pages copied x number of times and hand-delivered is worth four giant ice-cream boats and then some.
Also, your family may not be your best critics, but they are definitely your best promoters.