ADULTS ARE STRANGE
© 2009 by David Wainland
Grandpa gave me a shiny new Roosevelt dime and this morning I am headed to Eddie’s Nut House, our local candy store, to buy a new bag of marbles. Eddie will not let you look in the bags so you have to take what you get, though my heart is hoping for a clearie or two. It is the most sought after marble in my neighborhood, clear as water, with no bubbles and cool to the touch. Of course, I will take what I get, but deep inside I want a clearie.
In the cigar box I carry with me are the prize beauties captured last marble season, but if I want to win big I need a few more. Clearies attract the most reckless competitors, those willing to risk almost anything they possess for the Holy Grail of marbles.
It is a small store shaded with a green awning. Outside is a wood counter displaying the 1947 dailies’, like the Bronx Home News, the Daily News and the Daily Mirror. Inside is a single white marble counter, six vinyl covered stools, a glass case and a candy rack. The rest of the store is shelves displaying toys gifts and greeting cards.
Eddie is old, my father’s age, with brown curly hair and a perpetual harried look on his face. We kids drove him crazy and he showed it.
.“That bag there,” I point to the one I believe holds the magic and Eddie teases me by grabbing another.
“No, the one on the left,” his hand move to the right.
“This one then?” He smiles.
By now I am frustrated and want my bag.
“Please Mr. Eddie, they’ll start without me.”
“OK David, I wouldn’t want you to miss the action. That’s ten cents.”
He drops the bag into my eager hand and I slide the dime across the glass counter. Eddie takes the coin, twirls it between his fingers and, his eyes twinkle and he pushes it back at me.
“Save it for candy later. Good luck in the games and tell your dad that I hope he is feeling better.”
I do not know why he gave me the money back but I grab it anyhow and rush out of the store.
“Don’t say thanks,” he calls. The reprimand trails off behind me.
Adults are strange.
Instead of meeting up with my friends I decided to head up to our apartment and sort my new treasures.
Mom, as usual, is in the kitchen, my brother Jerry is in there with her parked in the high chair and dad is lying on the high rise bed in the living room that doubles as a couch. Dad is fighting to lift a brick filled carpet bag with his left leg. He broke his hip and is exercising to strengthen it. I can see the pain on his faces so I do not talk to him.
There is a glass covered coffee table in the living room and I lay my bag of marbles on the top alongside of my dime.
“Be careful you don’t break the glass,” mom calls from the far side of the kitchen. I never figured out how she knew what I was doing but she always did.
“I am being careful,” I yelled back.
That was a mistake because dad is now staring at me, his face clouding over with anger.
“What are you doing?” He snaps.
“Checking out my new marbles.”
“Where did you get the money for the marbles?”
“From Grandpa, last night.”
“How much did grandpa give you?”
“Ten cents, enough for the marbles.”
“So where did the other dime come from?” He is sitting up now and looking over my shoulder.
“From Mr. Eddie, he gave it back to me.”
I want to look at my new marbles and all the questions were getting in the way.
“’Cause, and he said to tell you he hopes you feel better.”
“Marion, please bring me my crutches. My son David and I are going for a walk.”
“But I want to open my new marbles.” I have a bad feeling about all this.
“Grab the bag and the dime. We’re going back to the candy store.”
He made the face that told me there was no arguing so I did what he said.
I carried one of the crutches as he struggled down the stairs and returned it when we got to the street. Dad made hurting sounds and he walked very slowly but we eventually got to the store.
Mr. Eddie seemed surprised to see my dad and they whispered for a few moments and then daddy turned to me.
“David, either give him back the marbles or the dime. We don’t take charity.”
I gave up the dime without question.
They talked for another few minutes and then shook hands.
“Mr. Eddie says you didn’t thank him. Is that true?”
“Yes daddy,” I replied shamefacedly.
“Tell him thank you now.”
“Why, he got the dime?”
“If you don’t know why, I’m not going to tell you. Thank him.”
It was another obscure threat from the world of grownup comments.
“Thank you Mr. Eddie.”
Adults are strange.