High finance

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A classic George Ostrom column, from December, 1970...

There is no training available in either the academic or business world which can possibly prepare a fella for family negotiated high finance.

Monday evening while I was sittin’ in my chair planning the right strategy for the Houston Oilers to beat the Cleveland Indians, two of my kids put the bite on father. They both were selling 50 cent “world’s best” chocolate bars to raise money for the Hedges PTA.

I thought I’d buy one bar from each kid but nobody seemed to have change for a dollar bill, so I would up with two bars from each. This left me with two ones, a five and a ten in my wallet.

Then Heidi asked me if I could give her a five for four ones and she’d owe me a dollar, which she’d pay back when she sold someone across the alley two more candy bars. I went along with that because Houston was in trouble and I had to figure out what to do with third down and eight yards to go.

Then Shannon came in and wanted me to cash his snow shovelin’ check in the amount of $5.50, but he had no change so he would up with my six one dollar bills and he owed me 50 cents, right when Houston bogged down and settled for a field goal.

During Cleveland’s 90-yard drive, Iris came along and informed me she had to pay $8 to the Pee Wee League last Saturday for Christmas wreaths I’d ordered for Bell Manufacturing, so I wound up missing my ten spot and Iris theoretically owed me $2.

Then the paper boy came in and wouldn’t take Shannon’s snow shovelin’ check from me, so Iris somewhere found $2, which she said canceled her debt to me, and I missed Cleveland’s second touchdown.

About that time, our six year old Clark came over and whispered to me that he’d spent all his money on the other kids and me so he didn’t have any money to buy Mama a present.

Being broke except for Shannon’s snow shovelin’ check, I gave it to him to shut him up while I watched to see if Houston’s new quarterback could rally the Oilers for a comeback.

Seven year old Wendy had been taking in all these transactions, so right when Houston was on Cleveland’s 6-yard line, she hit me up for a loan.

I wrote down on a piece of paper what each of the others owed me and told Wendy she could have half of everything she collected. She immediately went around the house like the new man at the credit bureau, demanding payment. Everybody pleaded poverty, so Clark told her he’d help her get some money.

First he borrowed my flashlight from the upstairs bedroom, then made me get out of the recliner so he could push it forward and search underneath for money which falls out of my pockets when I go to sleep watchin’ TV.

The last I remember of the whole deal was me sittin’ on the floor while Wendy and Clark divvied up the $1.85 Clark found under my chair, while Heidi was conning me into taking two more chocolate bars instead of the dollar bill she owed me and Cleveland beat Houston 24 to 10.

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