July 3, 2005

Heads Up

Something shiny on the console of my car caught my eye as I fastened my seatbelt this morning. Eagerly I reached for it, unable to resist the attraction. When it comes to shiny objects, I'm like a raccoon. Or a crow. Shiny objects grab my attention and hold me entranced.

It was a penny. A bright shiny new copper-colored penny. I say copper-colored because I don't think there is much actual copper in pennies these days. I saw Lincoln's profile so I picked it up. It was minted in 2005. I thought to myself, "Why the hell do we still manufacture this irritating coin?"

Thankfully that penny was laying there heads-up on the console. Otherwise I would have just left it there untouched until it either magically disappeared like it had magically appeared or magically flipped over to be heads-up, thereby freeing it from the ranks of the untouchable.

Some folks would say I'm superstitious. But some superstitions are so deeply ingrained they aren't even superstitions any more. They become second nature. Not picking up coins that are tails-up is second nature to me. It's how it's always been.

"Pop" is what I called my father's father. Now I call my father that at times. I can close my eyes and picture something Pop once gave me. It was a penny on a piece of green string. The string was tied through a hole someone, perhaps my Pop, drilled through that penny. I kept it tied it to a belt loop on pair of blue jean shorts, that penny on a string. I called them my penny shorts. So imaginative!

Pop told me it was a lucky penny. He said he'd found that penny heads-up in a pig's track, which is what imbued it with luck. He continued by saying, "Now young'un, if you ever see a coin that is face-down in pig's track, well you need to leave it right where it lays. There's not much unluckier than picking up a coin that's tails-up, but if it's tails-up in a pig's track, well, sugar, it's a heap a trouble to mess with something like that."

He nodded wisely as I stared up at him, and he back at me, my eyes rapt with interest. This was good stuff he was sharing. He so sounded like he knew what he was talking about. At my tender age, I was still blissfully unaware that adults ever even told lies. He probably didn't consider that 36-odd years later I'd still believe his words to be the god's honest truth.

My father once told me a lie. Well truth be told he told me many lies, couched as education, but with my dad it is all in fun. Of course, I forgave my dad immediately for his subterfuges. The glee he derived from my youthful confusion was contagious.

So now when I deadpan outrageous bald-faced lies just for the fun of it, which is quite the hobby of mine, I tell myself it's not that I'm a compulsive liar, it's just my genetics shining through.

But that stuff about the tales-up coins, well, that's no lie as long as I believe it.

Better safe than sorry.



Elizabeth said...

That's a nice story. I'm trying to imagine a sweet and innocent little Suzanne looking up at her Pops absorbed in the 'tale' of the penny.

Because the Suzanne of today is a big, honkin' prevaricatin' homo!

Anonymous said...

Im so glad there's someone else who wont pick up a tail-up coin! People look at me strange if I drop change and flee so I dont have to pick it up, or, god forbid, tell them why i cant pick it up.
My aunt once told me that she and my uncle were showering together to conserve water because "California is a desert". I believed her, sadly, until I was 25 and realized one day that there might be another reason.

Morphienne said...

I only pick up coins that are *tails* up, and I always call tails on a toss. I hate the way the heads on coins look, anyway, but I got into the habit when I attended a school in seventh grade where many of the other kids were so homogenous and shallow that they thought it was *really weird* that I liked tails on coins.

I like your new tag line. It's something I have a tendency to forget about other people and about myself.

Princess Wild Cow said...

When my daughter was growing up, it was very important that I not LIE to her. Now, tall tales, those are something else...and I used every one that had ever been used on me and still do it with the grandson. Love from another prevaricatin' homo!