every day he’s tumblin tumblin
(originally appeared in Yareah Magazine 9/8/2013… may it rest in peace)
It takes only a cursory look into the life of Arnold to see his attraction to chartered accountancy.
Only child. Midwest born and raised. Socially awkward.
In order to keep him busy, his parents thought he needed a hobby so they bought him a rock tumbler. Not some small starter tumbler, this one was the real deal. One of those double-barreled rotary ones. He responded by making everyone he knew jewelry that attempted to make up for its crippling lack of aesthetic value by its sheer weight. After less than a year of wearing his trinkets, his mother’s earlobes were as stretched out as any Falani tribesman.
Another benefit of his hobby was the additional time it allowed him to spend with his father. His father also had a hobby and they often did it side by side in the basement. His father brewed his own beer. It was common knowledge in the house that he wasn’t very good at it but everyone needs a hobby and his father enjoyed his.
Arnold would be loading in polishing grit on one side of the room and his father would be slumped motionless on the beer-sampling recliner. Sometimes drunk, sometimes poisoned. Arnold could never tell nor did it make much difference.
Around Halloween his father would always make a batch of his special “spiced pumpkin beer.” The basement would smell like a mix of pumpkins and jet fuel. When Arnold closed his eyes he could almost see the planes landing in a giant pumpkin patch, the landing gear clogged with vines and the wheels slick with rotting pumpkin remains.
Whatever secret ingredients he used, the “spiced pumpkin beer” always brought out the goblin in him. And in anyone else who imbibed it, as they found out one Halloween when he and his mom returned from trick or treating to find his dad at the door laughing, swaying, and handing out samples to the kids coming to their house for candy. As a result the entire neighborhood was soon engulfed in flames as dozens of festively-dressed and drunk-as-hell-for-the-first-time miscreants ran amok.
There was one beer recipe that both he and his mother feared most of all. His dad called it “werewolf” because whenever he drank it he ended up naked on someone’s lawn the next morning.
To this day Arnold winces whenever he hears howling.
His mother’s hobby was collecting Beanie Babies. She was always wheeling and dealing with other collectors to score the newest or rarest stuffed animal. She kept them in a large display case but eventually it got so crowded that the Babies were stacked one on top of another. Arnold found it unpleasant to look at. One day Arnold, hoping to score some points with his mom, tidied them up and in the process cut off all their tags. At the time he thought the tags gave the display case a cluttered appearance but later found out that a Beanie Baby without a tag is virtually worthless. He found this out when his mother took one look at his handiwork and, instead of thanking him for his hard work, retreated downstairs to find where his dad kept the “werewolf.” The police brought her home later that night dazed, with only a blanket draped around her and leaves in her hair.
It wasn’t the last time that the expression “no good deed goes unpunished” would ring true for Arnold.
Having rock tumbling as a hobby doesn’t make you very popular with the other boys when they are off playing football or baseball and all you have to show for your summer break is roughly half a ton of jewelry that could easily be thrown through a plate glass window.
Having a father that hands out alcohol to young children at Halloween doesn’t make you as popular with the other kids as you might think. Had he been wearing pants at the time it might have helped.
Having a mother that appeared on the evening news being escorted down naked from a tree by the fire department yelling “I had a Punchers the Lobster!” was traumatic and led to destruction of the remaining “werewolf” brew and, eventually, the brewing hobby itself.
So why chartered accountancy?
Perhaps Arnold just wants to make sure that nobody else cuts the tags off their assets.