I had a really, really bad day Wednesday, which I blame totally on the government.
At the risk of sounding like my dearly departed father, who used to blame the weather, the condition of the roads, the loss of his favorite hockey team, the price of sugar, gas and coal on those unseen bad guys who ran our country, I’m sticking with that theory.
“Damn government,” I muttered when I discovered my car battery had zero life. And later, it seemed to make perfect sense that the government was responsible for the gale force winds, the icy roads and the guy who almost rear-ended me because of all of the above.
Being a reasonable person, I wouldn’t have blamed the government for all the ills in my life, if it weren’t for the penny.
I found a lucky penny in my driveway. The reason I know it was lucky is it was facing heads up, a clear sign that lady luck was smiling at me.
I picked the penny up, rubbing my mittened hand across its surface just to double check it was facing the right way and stuck it in my pocket confidently. I even sang a few bars of some kind of happy song, just under my breath, of course, so the neighbors couldn’t hear me and think to themselves, “Weird, she is really weird.”
But, despite the lucky penny find, it turned out my luck ran out before it even got started that day, as things seemed to go from bad to worse, so I, in my misery, turned into my dad and blamed the government and immediately felt better. No wonder my penny wasn’t lucky, the government has totally changed the rules about them.
They are not even being made anymore. No doubt, any sentimental ritual about finding them is null and void, as well.
I self-righteously toss my lucky penny back into the snowbank and decide to make better use of my luck by purchasing a lotto ticket.
In reality the government’s plan to phase out the penny is probably a good one. And, it seems charities are coming up with ways to make good use of all those pennies that take up space in our wallets, on our dressers and in large Texas Mickey bottles hidden in the corner of the bedroom.
Yes, it’s good to get rid of the penny, but, as with anything that is no longer there, its demise brings certain nostalgia.
I remember looking at my sister standing under the glare from a bare light bulb in her living room.
“Your hair shines like a new penny,” I said, admiringly.
And I remember the general store of my childhood. It, too, had bare light bulbs and oiled floors, and spread out, in tempting display, on its counter, was an assortment of candy, most of which could be purchased for a penny, which I usually had stuck in my grubby little hand. There were suckers that were all the colors of the rainbow and jawbreakers and bubble gum and, best of all, these little black candies we innocently called nigger babies. They were three for a penny, so if you had two pennies you were rich, indeed.
The store is gone now, existing only in the yellowed, dog-eared pages of my memories along with party telephone lines and my sister’s beautiful copper coloured hair.
And, now the penny, that humble coin that made kids like me feel rich in days gone by, is to go by the wayside as well.
I sigh and think about the way we were and then I think about that Texas Mickey bottle full of pennies I have.
It is so heavy I can hardly lift it. I decide we must have been collecting pennies, ever since we were very, very young and had aspirations that one day, we would use these pennies to buy a new car or put a kid through university.
Well, that’s not going to happen.