On Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Plasma Center they do something called Bed Bingo. Every hour they have one of the donors pull a numbered slip of paper out of a hat. The person in the bed with the same number as the slip of paper wins an extra $5 for their donation that day.
Yesterday, I was the winner of Bed Bingo. Yippee......right? I was pretty happy walking out of the place with an extra $5 burning a hole in my pocket. However, on the ride home I got to thinking about what $5 can actually buy you these days, and I realized it wasnt much, at least not any more.
I remembered back to when I was in 3rd grade and found a dirty, wadded up $5 bill on the play ground one day. I thought I had hit the jackpot. In 1988, $5 could buy a kid a pile of earthly delights. And by that I mean CANDY! I ran to the nearest convenience store, poste haste, and bought them out of Jolly Rangers, Laffy Taffy and Atomic Fire balls faster than George Bush can ruin a speech.
Fast forward a few years. I have my license, I have a car, if you can call a 1987 Dodge Omni a car, and $5 could buy me a half a tank of gas with which to drive around town looking for chicks (NOTE: there was a lot of looking, not much finding), and still have enough left over to buy myself a sody pop!
Not today. $5 will get you just over 1 gallon of gasoline, a large mocha skinny hold-the-whip latte at Starbucks, 3 green bell peppers or 2 AA batteries at Target. None of which excites me nearly as much as my unforgetable candy orgy of yore or the hours I spent "cruising" with my buddies back in 1995. This is not to say I didnt take the extra five bucks. I took it and I ran, but its just unfortunate to come to the realization that things just dont stretch like they used to; that good times and great memories are so much harder to come by as you get older, $5 or no.
But I try to keep it in perspective. I try to realize that these times are good too. I will look back on them in 10 or 20 years and remember a time before kids, before mortgages, before college savings accounts, and think what a simpler, easier time I had of life.
There is one thing I do still know though. That no matter how things change, no matter what difficult challenges I face in my life.......I still get one hell of a good time from a simple piece of Laffy Taffy candy.