Recently, The Observer drove in to Sonic for a big ol' Diet Coke and some fries, paid in cash, and got a handful of change. Later on, fumbling with our coins as we sometimes do in order to give our restless hands a job when we're sitting still, we noticed that one of the quarters in there was from 1967. That's a heck of a long time ago, kids (nine presidents ago!) even more vintage than Your Ol' Pal, in fact.
The quarter wasn't pretty to look at, scuffed, worn and nicked. The Observer's dear old Dad used to say that you knew times were hard when you started seeing old coins in your change — pennies, nickels and dimes older than Grandpa, raided from dusty Mason jars and coffee cans. It's why, when Yours Truly was a kid, we kept our own jar filled with the oddities dad brought home in the change he dumped every night on his dresser: wheat pennies, buffalo nickels, Mercury dimes, and the rare Canadian something-or-other, festooned with moose, beaver and maple leaf. The oldies were a connection to the world Dad grew up in. But the jar was really a chance to sit in our room, look at those coins and ponder over where they'd been before they made their way to the hands of a boy who'd never really been much of anywhere. The Observer, as if it wasn't abundantly clear already, was not a normal child.
That all came back to us on Saturday, sitting there looking at the timeworn '67 quarter, the oldest we've seen in awhile, among the brighter slugs. The Observer is a fan of slowing down enough to let the interesting nuances of life catch up to us, and that was definitely one of those times. Ye gods, how we wish we could have flipped that quarter over and had George explain to us what he'd seen and where he'd been in the past 45 years: peep show booths and collection plates; fetid gutters and the silk-lined pockets of millionaires; barmaid's tips and convenience store tills; swapped for a baby tooth or a cuppa java or a gumball or three. That quarter has seen and heard enough, we'd wager, that it could surely put "In God We Trust" to the test, so it's probably a good thing that the things that come into and out of our lives aren't like us, which is to say: collectors of memory, time-travelers all.
Long since grown to manhood, we should have learned by now there's no sense guessing about what you'll never know for sure, though The Observer must admit we've become an expert at it after all these years. Speculation is what keeps life interesting in lieu of understanding. Our treasured jar of wheat, Mercury and buffalo is long gone, though, and we're too forgetful these days to ever keep up with a Lucky Quarter, so the next time we bought something, we made sure to pay in change.
Godspeed, George. On to the next dreamer.
The Observer has to take a bit of time out to congratulate our old friend and former Deputy Observer Warwick Sabin, who pulled out a decisive win in his recent race to represent Arkansas House District 33. We hate to see him committed to the asylum on the hill, but he's determined to go, and if there's anybody who can help out there, it's him.
Even better, he's still providing grist for this column. After the ballots were counted, Warwick posted a heartfelt thanks to the voters and one of his newly-minted constituents posted in reply: "I like your pubic education improvement plans."
Children, on the day The Observer gets so old and bitter that the public/pubic typo doesn't make us giggle like an idiot, we want to be sewn in a bag and dumped in the river, because on that day, we shall truly be dead.
After The Observer clucked about the comment and our love of the public/pubic typo on our own Book o' Face page, The Representative-Elect himself was kind enough to weigh in. "In the end, both kinds of education need to be improved, so it's really a moot issue," he wrote. "Still, I will probably start with public education and see how that goes first." Rimshot!
Dedication, brains and a sense of humor, too? That's change we can believe in.