Josh, Flaws and All, Part 5: “Being Greedy Is Bad … and Selfish Isn’t Much Better”

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            I had to take a break after the last essay. It was due to a combination of stress, exhaustion, and a creeping sickness. More the sickness than anything else, seriously there is plague savaging the Miami Valley and it feels like we are living in the opening of “The Stand” sans the body pits. But I m feeling better, not good mind you but better, so I’ve decided to dive back into this subseries of essays before I puss out.

            Last time we talked about how stubborn I can be and how that is not always a bad thing. Today we will be discussing greed and selfishness and how my attempts to NOT be greedy and selfish have fucked me over a couple of times. And yet I would rather fight against my generally greedy/selfish nature as opposed to seizing everything I desire and fuck everyone else.

            All of that being said never fear, as you are about to learn, I am at my core a greedy/selfish fuck.

 

            I’ve always wanted the last piece of pie, the extra burger on the grill, the final can of coke in the fridge, and to be the person to choose what we watch on the television. I have perpetually wanted what I wanted and to hell with what anyone else wanted. I’m not proud of this and in point of order I am extremely ashamed of it. As far as I am concerned I am a thief because of this dark streak.

            Read on and see if you disagree.

            The first really selfish greedy thing I can remember doing had to do with the bag of pennies. We were living with my Pseudo Step Father Steve in Saline on his farm, do we all remember the farm and how I really became afraid of the dark there? Anyway we were living there and the adults were having a New Years Eve party.

            I want to say this was New Years 1985/1986 but I could be wrong.

            Steve’s entire families, or at least the majority of them, were there. Among the sea of Krauts and Hillbillies were Steve’s nephews Terry and Tony, the children of Steve’s only sister. I always liked the two of them and they are the only people from that family I actively missed as the years went by. The four of us, my unnamed little brother was there, were in the upstairs of the great old house poking through one of the spare rooms with its mounds of boxes and junk.

            I think Terry found the bag of pennies.

            What I remember more than then pennies was the bag. It was a bright yellow mesh bag with a drawstring to hold it closed. I can still see the delicate lines of black thread in the yellow mesh. We asked Steve about them and he said we could each have one dollar worth of pennies. At that age and in those years that was a decent amount of change. We each divvied out 100 pennies each and put the bag back were we’d found it.

            It haunted me.

            Over the next few weeks I snagged a few more pennies from the bag every day until I had nearly 500 copper coins. I wish I could say it felt awful, that I felt like a bastard for taking something that wasn’t mine. But I didn’t, taking those pennies felt exhilarating. This was in the days before I discovered masturbation but the feeling in retrospect was not dissimilar.

            I never returned the pennies and I don’t believe anyone ever realized more of them were missing. But in the end I could never bring myself to spend them. Not because I felt bad for taking them at the time, although I feel horrible about it now, but because I was paranoid.

            I was sure my unnamed brother knew and was waiting to fuck me over.

            Now for a little back story. My unnamed brother, of fuck it lets go back to calling him “Scotty” for lack of a better option. Scotty is four years younger than me. One day we were at the local “Cheap Shit Store”, this was before the rise of the dollar store, a place called Ben Franklin’s. I’d always thought the chain was strictly a Michigan thing but I’ve lately learned that they existed all over the place … the shit you learn when you aren’t looking for info.

            Anyway we were at the store and I saw Scotty steal a road map. The kid was at the most five or six years old at the time and I have to say if I caught one of my kids doing it at that age all I would do is make them apologize to the store … actually I might not. Int his day and age the jackass store manager would probably call the police and demand a little kid be arrested as a terrorist and sent to Guantanamo Bay.

            I’d just ground them and maybe give them a swat on behind.

            But nine or ten year old Josh was a selfish and greedy little asshole, he looked at what Scotty did and instead of telling or keeping his mouth shut asshole Josh blackmailed his little brother.

            Yeah I did that, I admit it.

            I didn’t make him my slave or anything but whenever I wanted something Scotty had, usually a snack of some sort, I made him give it to me or I’d tell. If I did something I wasn’t supposed to and Scotty knew about it, usually it involved taking food or looking at Steve’s Playboys, I’d threaten to tell. And I was a clever little fucker. I made a code name for the blackmail. If I said “X” to Scotty he knew I’d tell on him.

            How did it all end?

            Well I didn’t take pity on my brother and back off. That is what an honorable or at least semi decent person would have done. No in the end Scotty outsmarted me. One day I did something, for the life of me I can’t remember what, and told Scotty if he said anything I’d tell. When he asked me “Tell about what?” I was stunned. I reminded him about the map and he said “What map?”

            That was when it dawned on me. Scotty had gotten rid of the map, no map meant no evidence, and no evidence meant I was now at his mercy. For several years after that I was in terror of retaliation.

            Hence, the pennies were never spent.

            It is a really bad memory and I am sure it has a lot to do with the anger between my brother and myself. Although there is so much more in that situation I won’t be talking about anytime soon. But for what its worth and I am sure to Scotty that amounts to a negative number of some sort, I am really sorry about it.

            There is more I could talk about when it comes to being greedy and selfish. I could talk about the money I spent on DVD’s, Toys, and Comic Books in the last 20 years but I think I’m going to skip that. Not because it’s irrelevant but because they are a sad story of a lonely guy dealing with depression and not realizing what he needed was a doctor and not that new box set of Star Trek DVD’s. I have covered a lot of my adult financial shenanigans in essays about our bankruptcy and retreading that ground feels stale and boring.

            No, I think that one story (In two parts) is a good one to stand for the rest.

 

            Alright, so now we know I am greedy and selfish. I guess we have also learned that I have been a bastard of a brother in the past. Although to be fair to myself I admit my mistakes and transgressions unlike some people.

            Next time I want to talk about something a little different I don’t know how much it counts as a flaw but I want to talk about my health. More specifically I want to talk about how much I ignore my health and how that is having an effect on my day to day life.

            And yes before you ask we will be touching on my weight issues again.

            Till next time Boils and Ghouls!

 

            -Josh

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Josh Hilden

When I was born on August 3, 1976 in the great state of Michigan the hills shook and the sky was swept with fire. These were portents of the greatness for my future that was written in the stars ... I'm still waiting for that greatness. My name is Josh Hilden and I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a son, a friend. These are all important things but at my core I am an artist and the medium that I work in is words. I am a writer of Horror, Science Fiction, Drama, and Role Playing Games. I worked for Palladium Books (www.palladiumbooks.com) and Third Eye Games (www.thirdeyegames.net) before striking out on my own and founding a small press publishing company Gorillas with Scissors Press (www.gwspress.com). I also work for Fat Goblin Games (www.fatgoblingames.com). In the everyday world I can be found spending time with my family and friends. I have been married to my lovely wife Karen since 1996 and we have six amazing children. We tend to be a family of unabashed geeks and gamers who were geek before geek was chic. If you are really interested in me I am very active online with a personal and a writing blog along with a plethora of social media outlets. If you have any questions or just want to chat hit me up!