Mom Stole My Parachute

Note to the yowling hordes of the freshly downsized: quit yer bitchin'.

Everybody's bemoaning this gut-wrenching economic downturn and their abrupt dropping of wealth. First stock options tanked, then jobs disappeared. Boo-hoo. Deal with it.

Sure, the tsunami of layoffs doesn't bode well for the peon-friendly perk-intensive workplaces that have become the norm but holy crud, they were just some kind of freakish blip on the employment scene. You knew that sweet ride couldn't last.

Say adios to your signing bonuses, benefit packages and lavish perks. No more free lattes, office massages or company Porsches. No more cubicle Jacuzzis, conference rooms with aromatherapy candles or company sanctioned naps. Forget about the lax dress code and the bring-your-child/pet/crackwhore-to-work policy.

Now it's back to the sweatshop mentality of yore, where bosses actually boss and hiring standards are enforced. Last year a drifter with a shaved head and prison tats who showed up to interviews with a human foot in a sack was being wooed by six different companies to fill a VP slot in marketing. Today, he'd be lucky to score a low level position in accounting.

Big deal. At least you have a shot at landing another job. You're only being jacked around by a heartless merger-spawned mega-conglomerate. I was ripped off by my very own mother.

You heard right. I got screwed by dear old mom. My financial security, gone. My early retirement, pissed away for no good reason. All thanks to the woman who gave birth to me, nurtured and raised me. Talk about your mixed signals.

The following is a tragic but true story.

I was browsing in a funky old used books and music emporium near my house last week when something caught my eye. Nestled behind several inches of bulletproof glass, protected by an array of video cameras, trip alarms, floor-mounted motion sensors and armed guards was a treasure of heartbreaking beauty. A Fantastic Four Marvel Comic, # 48, "The Coming of Galactus."

All right, maybe it was just inside a Plexiglas cabinet with a couple of candy wrappers on the floor and a baggy-pants skateboard jockey lurking nearby, but the cabinet did appear to be locked.

What snagged my attention about this particular rarity was that it belonged to me. Or had in the past. Maybe not this very copy, but the exact same issue. I checked the price tag: $700. I was gazing upon a $700 comic book.

My mind raced, trying to remember the last place I had seen my copy of Fantastic Four, Marvel Comics, # 48, "The Coming of Galactus." Oh, yeah. Last spotted in my mom's garage sale approximately 25 years ago, along with all my other comic books, priced to move at 3 cents each. As philosopher and poet, Homer Simpson has been known to proclaim, "D'oh!"

I called my mom later that night and let her have it with both barrels. How dare she dispose of my valuable property, she had no right, what was she thinking, was there something wrong with her brain, I'll never forgive her, expect to hear from my attorney, etc. Until she finally said something about it being my idea to sell all my comic books in the first place because I wanted to make room for my collection of Mott the Hoople memorabilia, and that I had even filled out the 3 cent price tag with a magic marker I had taken from her sewing kit. A blue one, if she wasn't mistaken.

Well, there's no use trying to talk to her when she's babbling incoherently, so I just hung up. Obviously the woman is totally disconnected from the secondary collectible market. Because the comic book fiasco isn't even the worst of her financial miscues.

Get this... she let me play with my toys. It seems incomprehensible now, but it's true. Instead of trying to preserve the mint condition of my toys by keeping them sealed in their original boxes, high up and out of reach on some shelf in a controlled environment, thus guaranteeing their value to a collector in the years to come, she just handed them over and let me engage in play-like activity. It was insane.

I probably lost a bundle in defaced army men alone. Especially since one rainy Saturday afternoon I used an electric pencil sharpener to create a platoon of coneheads. Hey, war is hell.

Fortunately, over Sunday dinner, just before I went all habeus corpus on her ass, my mother and I reached an out of court settlement. For my emotional suffering I received an extra piece of blueberry pie.

And there is more good news to report. I checked back at the bookstore and the price for the comic book in question has been slashed to a measly $595.

When it gets to 3 cents, I'm buying it. I don't care what my mom says.


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