After my first success at wheeling and dealing I thought I’d found my calling, but I’ve never been able to dominate the field again as I did on that Saturday afternoon in 1939.

My 4th grade pal Skippy had a fielder’s mitt I just had to have. I had no money or real treasures to trade, but Skippy had mentioned once he’d like to have a pet turtle and when I offered to trade my turtle for his baseball glove he seemed interested.

There was only one drawback. My turtle hadn’t moved or shown any signs of life for over a week.  I didn’t mention this minor detail to Skippy but I could see he was curious about the lack of movement. He reached down to nudge the beast.

“Be careful!” I said. “He’s a little excitable and might lunge at you and maybe bite.”

“Well how come he’s not moving?” Skippy asked.

“Turtles are shy with strangers.  Give him time to warm up to you and he’ll be running around your house.  Old Rocket is playful. Now hand me your glove.”

“His name is Rocket?”

“Yes, he’s the fastest turtle around. If you hear about a turtle race, be sure to enter Rocket.  Are you throwing in some kneatsfoot oil to break in the glove? It needs work.”  I was trying to change the subject.

“Get your own oil,” Skippy barked and put old Rocket in his pocket.

That was the last time I came in better than second best in a bargaining contest. I’m usually a patsy for the “Salesman of the Month” when buying a car or an appliance. Even if I’m lured in to a “Once in a lifetime sale”, I get an apology for an unfortunate typo or an explanation of the microprint footnote that mentions heavy surcharges.

And I’m not good at garage sales or flea markets where haggling is expected. “I’ll say, “The five dollar price for these two beat-up candlesticks must be wrong” and the dealer will reply, “You’re right. It should say ‘five dollars each’ .”

“That’s very high. What can you do for me?”

“I can sell you those candlesticks for ten dollars.  How’s that?”

And my one and only triumph is still not a done deal, Skippy’s grandson mentioned last week that , just before he died, Skippy told him I’d cheated him out of a baseball glove in 1939 and he should try to get it back.

I’ll never return that mitt.  I’ll swear that on the grave of Rocket.





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