“I’ve never had seventy-five of anything,” Grandfather said, pulling the bear hat off Tabias’ head to ruffle his hair. “Why, back in my day…”
Tabias growled at the impending old man story: “I had to walk seventy-five miles to school, with gators snapping at my heels when I was your age.”
Tabias imitated Grandfather sarcastically as he opened another birthday gift.
“The lucky ones got a gift, never seventy-five though!” Grandfather ignored Tabias the Mime.
“It’s my birthday, and I’ll…”
Grandfather cut Tabias off. “What in wild’s name you gonna do with seventy-five Hot Wheels?” Tabias had invited both Grade 4 classes, asked for cars only, and now sat infront of a massive pile, the paper tossed to the side as Tabias unwrapped another toy car: A red convertible. He shrugged and dropped it into the red car pile.
“When did I turn nine? I think, nineteen… fifty… three?” Chin hairs cracked and popped as Grandfather concentrated, rubbing his beard. He rocked in the lazy boy chair, but every forward swing hit
Tabias on the back and rolled over the fox tail (courtesy of Father’s hunting trip) he kept pinned to his board shorts.
Fort St. John was cool for Tabias’ birthday, but that didn’t change his clothing. The bear hat he wore kept his ears warm. Shirtless, with a motto of, “shirts are for girls and cartoon bears.”
“Temerity is not always a good quality,” Stepmother would reply.
Grandfather went on storytelling, a rock of the chair, a tap on Tabias’ back, a pinch over his tail. “Why, for seventy-five cents you could get a ham roast, or four bars of soap, or a small tin of coffee…”
Another gift opened, and Tabias found a silver Chevy truck. Into the silver pile it went.
“... your Great Grandmother, wild love her soul, sends me with only enough change to buy that ham.”
Grandfather’s chair continued: Rock, tap, pinch. Tabias picked up another gift. Rock, tap, pinch. He ripped the paper off and found a blue mini-van with a peace sign on the side.
“Us kids, we never got nothing. Only chance at candy was to pocket it from Mrs. Mac’s store. Hope to wilds she didn’t notice either.” Rock, tap, pinch. Another silver truck.
“Kids these days don’t bother with change. Dropping quarters into machines to watch them spin,” Grandfather ranted. “As if seventy-five-cents weren’t an honest man’s pay! That’s a daily paper editor’s wage from 1944!”
Tabias jumped up suddenly, and the last few colorful boxes went flying away. “Found it!”
Tabias turned to his Grandfather with a small orange car in his palm.
“The car of conscience?” Grandfather chuckled before he focused to it. The soft top folded perfectly into the trunk, large smiling headlights on the front of the ’75 MGB Roadster.
Tabias held it up for his Grandfather. “Just like yours.” Tabias smiled as he gave it to his Grandfather for his own seventy-fifth birthday.
Happy 75th Birthday!
Norma Rrae is an author based in Fort St. John. Read more of her works at notmewriting.com.