Sunday, June 8, 2014

Portrait of the Genius as a Young Miser

Okay, so it's not an actual portrait, like an artist's rendering in oils on canvas. It's more of a written analysis of what currently makes Genius tick. Even though he has a real adult job this summer, working for $20 an hour at an electrical engineering firm, he still has that starving-college-student mentality.

Genius called me Friday to say that he was considering chucking it all and starting his own think tank. WAIT! That was Moira Kelly to D.B. Sweeney in The Cutting Edge, and she was kind of making fun of his dumbness. What I meant to say was that Genius decided he might as well forget about college and gainful employment, and take pictures for a living. He had just networked a gig to take wedding pictures for a four-hour stint at $50 per hour.

Genius is not some casual cell-phone-photo snapper. He develops his own film and has many exotic lenses and knows his way around an f-stop. He is also not averse to making some quick cash off this learned talent. Hick has standing orders to buy up cameras he finds at flea markets and auctions. Genius then resells them online for pocket money. Hey! At least he's not selling his plasma for beer money. Thursday night, Hick found an auction camera with two lenses, and texted Genius to see what he should spend. Genius told him to go up to $40, because more would cut too deeply into his profit margin. Crafty Hick got it for $25. He had also bought another camera earlier in the week for $10.

Saturday, Genius had plans to swing by the old homestead after a Friday night trip to his college town to work on the solar car, to pick up clothes he needs for his job as an IT staffer at Missouri Boys State this week, and before his wedding photo shoot.

"I won't have much time. Make sure you tell Dad to lay out a five-dollar bill. I owe him $35, but I only have two twenties." Indeed. Wouldn't want Daddy Dearest to make an extra five dollars for his trouble. Hick really needs to negotiate a finder's fee.

The Pony and I were in the midst of a three-hour packing extravaganza when Genius arrived. The Pony was heading off for the Missouri Scholars Academy for three weeks. A sojourn which would require LAUNDRY before he returned. On last week's trip to Walmart, I sent The Pony to the back aisle for some Tide Pods. I don't use them myself. Imagine my consternation when I reached into the bag of 31 that The Pony had picked up, and found them to be the consistency of a human eyeball. Not that I am in the habit of plucking human eyeballs out of a plastic bag, of course. I put four in a ziplock bag for The Pony to take with him, and set the rest on the mantle of the fake electric fireplace that Hick was all gung-ho about buying after the Great Icepocalypse of Ought Six.

"Hey. Trade me two dollars for this." Genius held eight quarters in his fist. "That's what HE gave me in change for my cameras. Three ones, and eight quarters. I don't need these quarters. Or, you can take the ones, too, and give me a five."

"I'll do it. But you have to take the eight quarters out to the garage and put them in my change cup in T-Hoe."

"Oh, all right. As long as I get a five."

Genius circled the living room, his plan to plop on the long couch or the short couch foiled by The Pony's Academy accoutrements. "Look, Genius. Tide Pods. How much does something like that cost?" I had no idea. I'm not the type to go over my receipts with a fine-tooth comb. Two of which we bought for The Pony's trip. I figure there were probably smaller packages of Tide Pods, but The Pony is not a comparison shopper.

"Huh. Thirty-one pods. I'd say about twelve dollars." Genius put the bag back on the mantle. Gave it a double-take. Said no more.

"It's a pity those pods will go to waste. I don't use Tide Pods. I use the powder."

"Why is there a package of ALL Pods on the kitchen counter?"

"Oh, your dad bought those at the auction. Said he thought The Pony could take them. But I said no. I don't want him having an allergic reaction to new detergent while he's away for three weeks. My mom switched detergents when I was in high school, and it took me two weeks to figure out that rash under my athletic socks was caused by All Tempa Cheer."


"Yes, it's too bad those Tide Pods are going to go to waste."

"I use Tide Pods. But I'm not paying you twelve dollars for thirty-one of them."

"Um. There are only twenty-seven left. Besides, did I ASK you for money?"

"No, you did not."

"My point is, I'm not going to use them. So if you want them, you can take them."

"I'll take them. Ocean Mist. I use Alpine Breeze. I guess Ocean Mist will go okay with my Spring Fresh dryer sheets."

"I'm sure it will be fine. Take them. For free. You can have the ALL Pods, too."

"Okay. Thanks."

Genius only had time to grab the big red wheeled suitcase that The Pony had planned to take, jump in the shower for forty minutes, and command The Pony to carry out the stuff Genius needed for Boys State. He told The Pony that if there was anything else I planned to give him, I needed to lay it out on the counter, because he was getting ready to leave. I made Genius walk into the kitchen. I withdrew two twenties from a stash my mom gives me every now and then "to give the boys, when they have a special trip or something for school, so you don't have to come up with spending money for them."

"This is from your grandma."

"Aww...thanks. Tell her for me."

And with that, he was off to see a movie in the city, then get dolled up for his job as wedding photographer.

It's always good to have several irons in the fire, I suppose.


  1. Genius certainly has a discriminating nose. Ocean Mist. Alpine Breeze.

    I smell a moocher in the vicinity...

  2. Genius must have great people skills to work as a wedding photographer. Wedding participants can be difficult to please.

  3. Moms never stop feeling the need to give.

  4. Sioux,
    Genius is the moochingest moocher who every deigned to mooch. If I was choosing a name for Baby Genius again, I would name him Moochie McMoocherson. His picture is in the Funk & Wagnalls right beside THANK YOU FOR LETTING ME USE YOUR DICTIONARY. I WILL TAKE GOOD CARE OF IT UNTIL YOU COME TO PRY IT FROM MY MOOCHING HANDS.

    Indeed, Genius excels at people skills. He must get that from his father. I assume the wedding went off well. Genius reported that instead of receiving the agreed-upon $200 for his work, he pocketed $240.

    Moms never stop being strong-armed by their familial moochers.

  5. Genius is diversifying, and they will mooch from mama till the cows come home. You actually saved the money your mom gave you for the kids? Not me, I spent it.

  6. Linda,
    You are so correct. I'm surprised Genius didn't wait for the cows to come home, and then ask for a cow so he could carve it up and sell it steak by steak for a profit. And put the entrails in a box marked Auction Meat and send it with Hick to get what he could for it.

    I would have felt guilty spending the money Mom gave me for the kids. After all, she kicks in five dollars for ME every now and then. Come to think of it, I'M the one who hauls her around, and calls her at least twice a day, and gives her leftovers from my delicious meals heated in the microwave or warmed in the oven. What do those darn kids do for her? NOTHING except take advantage of her high-speed internet. Oh. And do that "I love you, Grandma" thing.