Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Antique Money, Etc.
Riddle: It's a cold, dark and stormy night. You are driving down the road in your sporty two-seater automobile when you see three people waiting at a bus stop – you passed the bus miles back, so you know they have a long wait. The first person is an elderly woman who looks tired and ill. The second person once saved your life. The third person is the handsomest man you have ever seen, and he's smiling at you. You stop, but you only have the two-seater. How do you pick whom to favor?
This past Friday and Saturday I was a volunteer at the Northwest Coin Club's annual upper-midwest sale and exposition. It was in a moderate building in a moderate location, but the private guards on the door were armed. The main room, a “bourse” in coin collector talk, had coins and paper money for sale. And a lot of the coins were gold. Not just gold, but antique gold. And the silver coins were also antique. Most were American, but there were European coins as well, and even some Asian and Middle-East coins. I brought my collection of Medieval English silver hammered pennies to be evaluated and was pleased to discover that they had increased in value over the years since I bought them – not that I paid a great deal for most of them. It is amazing to me that you can buy a coin that is six hundred years old for less than fifty dollars.
Sunday I went with a friend to a performance of “Yeomen of the Guard,” a Gilbert and Sullivan play. I surprised myself by crying at the end. Normally, I don't cry at plays; I'm too interested in the technical aspects to get entirely wrapped up in the story. The last play – the only other play – I cried at was “Man of LaMancha.” “Yeomen” actually has two unhappy love story endings in it. Phoebe, a sweet maid in love with a condemned prisoner (though she has never spoken to him) ends up with Wilfred, the Head Jailer and Assistant Tormenter, who is not a very nice person. But poor Jack Point, a not-very-good jester who doesn't like his profession and who jokes a little too much about not being in love with his jesting partner, Elsie, winds up with no one. Their song, Elsie and Jack's mournful, “I Have A Song to Sing, O,” has a happy ending, so the audience expects things to work out – but they don't. Here's a look at the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yImDO8CjG94
My colonoscopy went well, and all is normal with my insides, whew!
The novel I'm currently writing, A Drowning Spool, has proved somewhat tanglefooted. The time line I had laid out for it isn't working, and I have given up trying to force it back into its mold. I've decided to just follow it wherever it wants to go. It's scary, especially in light of the fast-closing deadline, but exciting.
Answer to Riddle: You get out, give the keys to the man who saved your life and ask him to give a ride to the sick old lady, then you stand at the bus stop making time with the good looking fellow.