Trading is genetic

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 9, 2003

My wife comes from a family of horse traders. Literally, her grandfather supported his family by trading horses. It’s in her blood.

As such, she’s never met an antique or junk shop she didn’t like. She will come home excited with her finds and decorate the house with them. Then, just as suddenly as they appeared in our home, they will disappear, apparently traded for some other &uot;pretty.&uot;

Her tastes change, too. A few years ago, while living in West Virginia on an eight-acre farm complete with goats and a litter of bichon frises, (our first and last attempt at getting back to nature) she was into antiques and filled our 100-year-old farm house with them. Then one day I came home from work and everything was gone. She had sold it – lock, stock and barrel, right down to the rooster dishes in the cupboard – to a friend who was furnishing her newly purchased bed and breakfast.

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Our son, Adam, 14, has inherited the horse-trading gene. He likes pawn shops, buying, selling and trading his things as his tastes change. Actually, I think for both of them, it’s more the thrill of the negotiation and finding the bargain than it is the stuff.

I’m not like that. Frankly, I’d be surprised if I could recognize any item from our home that was put in front of me. Occasionally, I’ll inquire whether something in our home is new, and Cathy will get upset and say, &uot;We’ve had that for years.&uot;

Half the time, I suspect it is something she just bought that day. She knows that I’m often in a state of confusion where furnishings are concerned.

Plus, I’m admittedly not much of a negotiator. I typically get bested when it comes to wheeling-and-dealing so I generally leave that to Cathy.

With that in mind, I was shocked Thursday when my wife called and asked me to go to a nearby pawn shop to trade Adam’s electric guitar for an acoustic. She had injured her foot and could not go.

I begged and pleaded not to be made to do it, knowing full well that I’d be lucky to leave a pawn shop with my clothes, let alone a guitar.

&uot;And don’t forget to get a case,&uot; she said.

&uot;What if they won’t give me a case?&uot; I asked helplessly.

&uot;Then don’t make the deal.&uot;

Against my better judgment, I took the guitar and much to my surprise, the proprietor was eager to barter. &uot;This is easy,&uot; I thought with increasing confidence. I picked out the guitar I wanted, and even got the case. I left, feeling proud of my adept haggling.

The pride lasted until I walked in the house, instrument in hand. Immediately, I could immediately tell Cathy was not pleased.

&uot;You got ripped off,&uot; she said. &uot;That’s a junior guitar.&uot;

&uot;What’s up with the strings?&uot; Adam asked, pointing out they were made of different materials. &uot;There’s no pick guard.&uot;

&uot;It looks cheap.&uot;

&uot;Why’s it so small?&uot;

&uot;Thanks a lot, Dad,&uot; Adam said sarcastically.

&uot;That’s it,&uot; I said, my frustration growing. &uot;I told you I didn’t want to do this. I did the best I could, got what you asked for.&uot;

&uot;How would you feel,&uot; Cathy asked, &uot;If I took your driver out and traded it for an old $15 kids’ club.&uot;

I acknowledged that that would likely upset me. &uot;However, if you had begged and pleaded with me not to make you do it and I made you do it anyway, I imagine I’d gratefully accept the club and thank you for taking time out of your busy day to do it for me.&uot;

She rolled her eyes and sighed, got on the phone and called the pawn shop. She told the owner that her husband was semi-retarded or something and would appreciate it if he would trade back.

He said someone had already made an offer on it, and if he decided not to get it, he would trade it back.

So I was pleasantly surprised the next day when Mr. Razzle Dazzle at Downtown Pawn on North Main called me at the office and said I could come by and get the guitar. He was very kind and understanding, though I thought it odd that he spoke to me so slowly. Must have been something the wife told him.

But we got the guitar back and for that, I’ll be eternally grateful to Mr. Dazzle. Thanks to him, I’m back in everyone’s good graces and all is forgiven.

Now if I could just find my driver.

Andy Prutsok is editor and publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611 or via e-mail at