The Couch

The Gold Clock

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JosefK
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Joined: May 03, 2008
Location: California

Total Topics: 7
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Posted 05/03/08 - 10:17 PM:
Subject: The Gold Clock
[font style="background-color: #ffffff" size="3"]I was eight the first year I bought my mom Christmas gifts. I had five dollars and a bunch of green stamps I had saved from the grocery stores. I trudged through the snow, over a mile, to reach downtown. I started off at Sears, across from the Sterling Theater, and wandered around amazed at how much I could buy with my money. In fact, it could buy so many different things, I had no idea what to buy. Do I buy something mom would think was pretty, something she might need, something to wear, or maybe something for the kitchen? I was confounded. After an exhaustive search, nothing seemed quite right, so I left and walked down to the Woolworth's Five and Dime at the opposite corner of the block. I started off in the toy section trying to justify buying a Johnny West action figure for my mom. I was positive mom would be thrilled to get one. When I remembered I had asked Santa for one, I decided mom didn't need one after all. The search started again. I paced the aisles until I came upon what I thought would be the perfect gift, a clock. But not just any clock, it was a wind up "gold" alarm clock. I knew it was made out of gold because it said "Gold" right on the box and it was colored gold. What luck! And even better, it was only $4.99, almost the exact amount I had. I ran to the register and waited in line. When the last person in front of me disappeared, I presented the "gold" clock to the cashier. She rang it up and while smacking her gum she said, "That's $5.29.". I don't remember exactly what I felt, but I remember thinking she wasn't to bright. As I pointed to the price I said, "But it says $4.99 right there." She countered with, "But there's tax." Now I was the one who felt stupid, because I had no idea what she was talking about. Was she joking? "What's that?", I said. She looked at me and started drumming her fingers on the register. She gave me a familiar glassy eyed look, I had seen that look in adults eyes before. She was wondering whether it was worth the trouble explaining or if she should just blow me off. Finally, she said, "It's what the government charges you to buy stuff." Again, I was feeling stupid because I had absolutely no idea what a gov-mer-ment was. But I did know, what ever this tax thing was, it was a big rip-off. Still not understanding completely, I showed her my five dollar bill and asked, "So, can I buy it?" Promptly, the clock disappeared beneath the counter and in her testiest voice the cashier replied, "When you get the rest of the money." I new the conversation was over and I started for the big glass doors that lead out to the sidewalk. I had pushed those doors open a thousand times in my young life, but they had never seemed heavier than right then. I knew I had to get the rest of the money, but where would I get it? The tried and true answer to that question was pop-bottles. But where could I find pop-bottles downtown. Was I going to have to walk all the way home and start searching the alleys? No, I decided, that wasn't the answer. As I walked back toward Sears I passed the Green Stamp store. Suddenly, an idea hit me. Why not sell my book of Green Stamps to the Green Stamp store. I had sold things to my friends before, (such as my bent baseball cards) but never to an adult. I was desperate and it seemed like a good idea, so I walked into the small rectangular store determined to make a sale. I saw a lady behind the long glass counter and thrust out the stamps like they were some kind of shield and said, "Want to buy some stamps I need thirty cents to buy my mom a Christmas gift and the gov-mer-ment won't let me buy the clock?" She threw her head back and laughed some kind of horse laugh I had never heard before. I was devastated. I started crying. I didn't just produce tears, I started wailing like only a hurt or humiliated child could. Even back then I'm not sure I could have told you the details of what the woman said or did, but somehow I walked out of the Green Stamp store with a dollar, a candy cane, my Green Stamps, and a handful Kleenex. (The woman's response taught me a valuable life lesson; no matter how ridicules a child's question, don't laugh at them.) Despite the gov-mer-ment and the tears, I bought my mom that clock. It sat by her bed for years even after it had quit working. Yea, I remember winters in Sterling and I remember how special they were.[/font]
Nexus
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Location: UK *up north somewhere*

Total Topics: 63
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Posted 05/04/08 - 4:11 PM:

I think it is fine and clearly is an important memory for you. To make it even better (assuming you posted it here expecting criticism) you might consider discussing your feelings (then) more, the sense of the difference between the adult world and the childhood world (clearly an important element in the piece). One of its strengths is the straight forward matter of fact way in which it is told, however, I think it needs a little more tweeking to make it 'special' and 'more literary', that is, if you want it to be like that.

Just an idea: the observations such as the 'life lesson' at the end. You might phrase it like this.

'The cold ice that her eyes filled me with left a deep impression. I could even picture myself, right then in the moment, as one of those hypocritical giants with their ugly words and vowed I would be more careful when I grew to their size.'

The difference is 'literary'. It doesn't have to be quite that exaggerated but a little more 'work' on the atmosphere conjured by the language might pay off...

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