Thursday, January 29, 2015
The Greeks had battled long and hard, but they could not penetrate the walls of Troy. Each side’s heroes eventually fought in individual combat at the foot of Troy’s mighty walls, but there was no final result to come of that bloodshed either. Then one day the Greeks sailed away, leaving behind a tall wooden horse. Was it a symbol of Greek acquiescence to the mighty walls of Troy? —Nay, it was to become an eternal symbol of treachery. I remember it well.
It was the summer of 1962, and my father was extremely mad at something I had done, or not done. So infuriated that he picked up my wooden toy chest and carried it out to the garage. I was banished to my room, alone, all my toy soldiers were in that toy chest now locked away in the garage on the far side of the house. My father really knew how to punish me, or so he thought.
While locked in my solitary confinement, I sought the refuge of reading. I took out a volume from my Golden Book Encyclopedia set, and it fell open to the story of Troy. How wondrous, if I only had my toy soldiers, surely I could find among them two different sets of Hellenistic toy soldiers to do battle, but they were all locked away, and out of reach.
I slowly surveyed my room, my mind empty except for the singularity of purpose, that purpose, my thoughts of recreating in my bedroom, the siege of Troy.
The result of my raw materials survey: The Golden Book Encyclopedia, twenty-four volumes. A box filled with pennies, and two, six-sided dice, one red, one gray. I smiled broadly as my fertile imagination bore fruit.
Let the battle begin!
I laid my encyclopedia volumes on their sides, piled three high and staggered back about an inch—bound edge from bound edge, leaving enough room for two pennies to occupy the depth of the steps that the short staggered piles of books had created. When construction was completed, there on my bedroom floor stood, “The Mighty Walls of Troy.”
I then set about the task of separating my pennies into Lincoln memorials and wheat backs. The Lincoln memorial is a building, so those pennies will represent the Trojans, the wheat backs will be the Greeks. The dates on my wheat back pennies ran across decades, but my memorial backs were fewer in number and most of them were 1959, with some 1960 and 1961 pennies in the mix. This disparity in dates will work well in my game plan. I set my few dozen defending Trojan pennies on the walls of Troy, and arrayed before them two or three hundred, wheat back Greeks.
CHARGE! The clash was calamitous. As opposing pennies came into contact they were flipped to their dated side, the dice were rolled, gray for the Trojans, red for the Greeks. The last digits of the penny’s dates were compared, and the difference, if any, was added to the higher numbered penny’s dice roll. Then the penny rolling the lower combined total, stayed on its flipped-over side; the losing penny was now a DEAD soldier.
At the end of that afternoon’s battle, hundreds of pennies, most of them low dated Greeks, lay dead before the walls of Troy, upon my bedroom floor. The carnage lay heavy on my mind, and the smell of copper was thick upon my tarnish-tainted fingertips.
Then my bedroom door creaked and opened slightly. It was my Father poking his heads in to see what was up. He quickly closed the door and walked down the hall to where my Mother was in the kitchen preparing dinner. Then I heard him say in a loud and exasperated voice, “Son of a bitch, it’s impossible to punish that damn kid!”
You were right Father. I have always possessed the unique ability to adjust to, and overcome adversities in my environment. It is a talent that has served me well for all of my years.