©2000 Bonnie Wren
Jenny called to let me in on her latest investment plan. "Four Happy Meals!" she crowed. "Got a complete set of toys!"
This really burned me up. Women everywhere were making a mint in collectibles while my MBA-toting husband fiddled with mutual funds.
Well, no more.
My first opportunity to feather our nest came via my neighbor's phone call from work early Sunday morning. A veteran of the Beanie Baby Wars, Didi can recognize a blue-chip opportunity when she sees one.
"A line! Outside the toy store!" she hollered. "Pokémon cards! You gotta go right now. Take my kids! No time to lose! I know the people in line--Beanie regulars--they'll clean out the store!"
"You wanna run with the bulls, honey, you gotta take some risks. Move it!"
Ten people were already in line at the toy store, sipping lattes in their lawn chairs and reading newspapers. I hustled up, planted my lawn chair and organized the six kids I brought with me.
"All right!" I barked. "No running, shoving, or fighting. You move it, you lose it."
They quickly fell in and we began our siege. Soon the line of speculators stretched around the block.
Teenagers circled in front of the store, ignoring the queue. Only the Beanie war-horse at the head of the line seemed unconcerned.
"I scoped out the place yesterday," she said, turning a page of her newspaper. "The staff will make 'em get in the line when they put out the display bikes."
Just then my neighbor Rich arrived to take the place we saved for him. A bitter protest went up behind me.
"No cuts, butts, or interrupts!"
"Hey" I said, pointing at Rich's son. "He saved a place for his dad. How was I to know?"
They looked at the freckled 8-year-old and then at Rich, a former high school wrestler. Grumbling, they backed off. Relieved, I turned to find Rich glowering at me.
"Heh, heh," I tittered self-consciously. "Sorry!"
The staff opened the doors to set up the bikes and told the squatters to scram. Two stubborn teens moved about 20 feet from the doors and assumed runners' starting positions. This drove everybody over the edge.
"Line-breakers!" someone shouted.
"Git a rope!"
"Good grief," said Rich.
"Steady," soothed the Beanie campaigner.
The manager guarded the doorway. "We'll let in 10 people at a time," he announced. "You're limited to 5 packs each."
He let the first group in amid hisses and boos. People behind us began pushing and shoving. Bread lines in Kosovo had better manners.
"They're scamming us!" a voice cried out.
"This stinks!" cried another.
The manager put up his hands like Moses, holding back the waves of a hostile takeover. "People, please!" he begged.
During our turn the empty toy store was eerily quiet. The kids picked out what their allowances could afford and I grabbed my five chances for financial security.
"They're taking it all!" complained the mob outside. "Let us in, now!"
"Pretty intense," said Rich, sweating over the cash register. We looked back at Moses. His arms were sagging.
"Perhaps," I suggested to Rich, "you could block anybody who might rush us."
Rich nodded. As we left the store he walked in a protective crouch, his burly arms akimbo. The mob surged and receded as we hurried past.
Once we were safely back in our cul-de-sac the kids ripped open their Pokémon packs. Shell-shocked, Rich went home to take a nap. I stashed my card packs under my mattress.
Then I called Jenny to brag about my investment plan. It may not have equaled the Happy Meals initial public offering, but it would do.
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©2003 Bonnie Wren. All Rights Reserved