It happened at McDonalds, probably from the salt or grease or maybe that’s the same thing? It was the Egg McMuffin, hashbrown in the envelope, and coffee. I felt orgasmic elation while chewing and swallowing. I did it often, at least once a week, a religion of sorts. I was hooked and every final chew and swallow made me feel miserable and alone. I wanted more and more and when that craving seeped into the post breakfast hours, I knew I had a problem so I went to the Problems Center and stated my claim.
“McDonalds,” I said, “The Egg McMuffin to be more specific and those hash browns in the sleeve.”
“Next” said the intake counselor, shooing me off to the side and out the door. They apparently expected alcoholism, a mental disorder or drug addiction. I felt even worse than when I entered, more alienated and alone like my problem didn’t exist.
But I still had my baseball cards to manhandle, to store and stack in violent spurts, to fling against the wall, to go all Mussolini on and in the process purge my demons or at least take my mind off salt, thanks to the sugar-coated piece of cardboard rectangular gum inserted in each pack. Dealers would be no doubt be around every corner, in drugstores, pharmacies, five and dimes, ma and pa’s, just like the old days. For 50 cents, I could quickly slip into the wax pack daze again….726 or 792 cards to complete a set, enflaming my already off the charts obsessive compulsive disorder, but a cure for boredom, a fuck you McDonalds and your salt. I would have something bigger and sweeter – sugar, baseball cards. I would be released into something else, into a cardboard craze like when I was a kid.
My favorite card of all time was a Topps 1980 Gorman Thomas, favorite not because he’s squatting on the grass, bat aimed down, donut at the end, Gorman with that golden lion look, the handlebar moustache, long hair, and ready to go, ready to face anyone attitude…..all that’s cool, but it was my favorite card for a different reason, favorite because I couldn’t get it.
I bought up the whole fucking Bears Pharmacy, wasted all my paper route money and still no Gorman and I was growing up in Milwaukee at the time, weird, no Topps regional loyalty. I got every other card in the set, but no Gorman. The summer passed and eventually I got it, don’t remember much more, other than standing on cement and feeling a sense of relief.
That was a long time ago, but the cure was real. Why not today? Because something happened to the hobby. I don’t write for the economic herald so I won’t even begin to try to unravel what went down. The only thing I know for sure is that more sets were introduced and the price of cards went way up. Fast forward even more years and some cards are available only on-line and only during a short window of time. A clever idea to immortalize a moment, but what the hell can you do with a digital card?
The other day I get an email from a friend. He lives in Vancouver, Washington. He sent me an article about a baseball card bunker paradise. Some guy is opening up a vault and charging people a percentage to store their cards for that futuristic day when the cards will be worth something.
I’m more communist than anything else, not the corrupted version, but the kind that gives everyone healthcare, taxes the rich more than the poor and so on. I don’t like this bunker baseball card idea. It screams of more baseball cards as an investment. I get the idea of preserving the cards as historic relics like cave paintings or ancient Mesopotamian texts. I guess the investors with glass do just this but at what cost? I thought the fun was buying massive amounts of cards, trying to complete sets, trading on street corners if need be, and yeh, they might get damaged, but let me ask you a question…
Would you rather have a hoe stained by saber-toothed tiger blood or a hoe in perfect condition?
There must be a balance between private vaults perfection and Jefferson Burdick who not only invented the number system on the backs of cards, but didn’t protect the cards in sleeves or plastic. He did the adult equivalent of cards stuck in spokes and flipping them against the wall, as they should be maybe because nothing really lasts forever unless people want to go all mummy like and be buried with their cards. Hey that’s not a bad idea, not to be mummified with the cards, but bury them in a suitcase for some future gang of kids to discover. But then they’ll take them inside and mom and dad will say,
“Hey those might be worth something.”
Ah screw it, I’m going to buy an egg McMuffin for breakfast.