Monday, August 29, 2011

I'll Trade You!

I’ll Trade You!

When I was growing up, there was one thing I wanted to be more than anything.  I wanted to be a basketball player.  I don’t know why.  I was pudgy, uncoordinated, and I had asthma.  It was a recipe for disaster.  However, none of that squashed my love of the game. 

[So sad.  Just…so very sad.  There are no words, really.]

One of the ways that I showed my support was to buy basketball cards.  Tons and tons of basketball cards.  My step-brother had an amazing collection, and I wanted to be just like him.  He was, after all, a basketball player.

My collection started small, with just a few cards given to me by my step-brother.  I started buying packs, buying plastic pages, and I went crazy.

I was so proud of those cards, that I would do anything to protect them.  My step-brother and I probably bonded most when we were collecting those cards.  We’d swap cards, examine each other’s cards, look at the somewhat impressive graphics on some of the cards.  And then we’d go play NBA Jams on his Sega.

I was convinced that basketball card collecting was the coolest thing you could ever do EVER short of actually playing basketball.  I figured it was my ticket into popularity.  I’d waltz over to the cool kids, flash my b-ball cards, and they’d fall all over themselves inviting me into the promised land of milk and honey and cute girls.

Much to my surprise, one day while I was in class, one of the popular kids did try to talk to me.  I was dumbstruck, gobsmacked, taken aback…made…confused…?  It was easily the most bizarre moment of my life, multiplied by the fact that this kid had been one of my tormenters.  To me, this was a moment of ascention. Surely I must have taken a level in awesome or something.

Anyway, this cool kid was checking out my cards from a distance, and he noticed I had some pretty cool cards.  He came over and we started comparing our collections.  I was enraptured with his fancy cards.  He had a lot of cards with cool graphic effects, like flaming balls, lightning strikes, speed effects, and textures.  Mine were just plain old cards with regular old pictures.  I was feeling a bit insecure until I remembered my pride and joy.  As he turned to it, I watched his face go slack in awe.  I had an entire page of Michael Jordan cards.  Nine cards total, plus one really big, cool holographic card.  One of them—my favorite—had Jordan in his #45 jersey he wore just after he came back from retirement (the first time).

The cool kid was staring at the cards so much he was practically drooling.

He looked at the cards for a moment more, longingly, and then looked back at his own.  I didn’t realize at the time, but I imagine his face must have transformed a little bit in that moment.  Something similar to this, probably:

He pulled out a bunch of the really cool, graphically enhanced cards and began flashing them in front of my face.

“How’d you like to trade cards?”

I was awestruck.  The cool kids…asking to trade cards…with me?

“Sure!!!”  I practically shrieked it.  And so we did.  We traded a few cards, and then we somehow managed to wind up on the Jordan page.

“You know, Michael Jordan is my favorite basketball player,” he said as he shuffled through his cards.

“Oh, mine too!!  He’s the coolest ever!”

“Yeah, I know!  I’ve got some really valuable cards I’d like to trade for a few Jordans.  Since he’s my favorite and all, I figured you should get something out of it, too.”

I was suspicious here.  I mean, it all sounded fair and reasonable, like he was cutting me a deal.  But cards more valuable than Jordan?  That sounds blasphemous.  Nonetheless, he held the cards out in front of me.

[This is not the face of someone to trust.]

“See these cards with all the cool designs on them?  These designs make the cards more valuable.  That’s how you know you’ve got really valuable cards.”

So we traded.  I wound up trading him five of my Jordans for four of his really cool graphics cards and one Michael Jordan baseball card.  I felt a little shaky, like I’d just been punched in the stomach, but this cool kid had just traded with me!!!  Maybe we’d become friends!  When I got home, I gushed to my mom about how cool the kid was and how we’d traded cards.

My mom was instantly on the phone with the cool kid’s mom, furious about what happened.  It was decided that we would have to trade back at school the next day.

Few things are more humiliating than having to have your mom force you into reversing a trade with a school friend.  Add that I had apparently been duped by this kid, and I felt like a class A sucker.

In the end, I got my cards back—except one, he convinced me to let him keep one b-ball Jordan for one of his baseball Jordans…I still don’t know if that was wise.

Because of that experience, I’ve developed a neurotic fear that I’m being swindled in anything that isn’t a safe, by the book sale.  Buying cars, insurance, or trading cards or other things to people?  I’m convinced the world is out to swindle me.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t improved my haggling skills, but that’s a post for another time.

Did you ever get swindled when trying to trade something?  Were you ever into trading cards--basketball, baseball, pokemon cards, Magic: The Gather, whatever?  Share your fun(ny) memories in the comments.