How Much Did That Thing Cost?

Here’s everything you need to know about the two characters in this true story:

Moe: He’s my cousin, and he plays the bass.

Gretchen: She’s a good friend, by marriage, and she likes to have nice things.

Moe came from Ohio to visit me in California. I bought a bass guitar the day before he arrived. I’d been wanting to have one around the house anyway, and with Moe coming out, this seemed like the right time. So I went to a music store, and I walked up to a long row of bass guitars hanging from the ceiling, and I went directly to the cheap end, and I grabbed the very last one. It was $189. And black. And shiny.

Right then the sales guy walked up. I spoke first. “Will this thing hold tune?”

He shrugged his shoulders a little and said, “Probably.”

A great deal was communicated here. My question said I knew enough about guitars to know that some of them don’t “hold tune.” And when the guy shrugged and said “Probably,” he was basically saying, “Look dude, obviously you know enough to know that I can’t vouch for that pathetic collection of lumber scraps in your hand. If you want a real guitar, you might consider buying any one of the other 10 million guitars in our store.”

Loving his candor, I said “I’ll take it.”

The next night, Moe was staying over, and Gretchen came by for a visit. Plus Kay my wife made four of us. We were chitting and chatting, and the conversation made its way to Gretchen’s shoes.

“I practically stole these shoes,” Gretchen said with great excitement. “They were on double mark down, for $209!”

I wasn’t looking at Moe at the time. If I had been, I believe I would have seen his Adam’s apple move.

An hour later, I was talking about recent events in my life, and I mentioned the bass guitar that I had just bought. I had already told Moe about it earlier, and about how much it cost. “Go get it!” said Moe. “Let’s see this gem!”

So I brought it out. Along with my teensie little practice amp. I’m not sure why they call tiny guitar amplifiers “practice amps.” Maybe they are meant to be used only for practicing, as opposed to on stage. Or it could mean that the amp is practicing at being a real amplifier someday. Hard to say. In any case, playing a bass guitar through this amp was going to be like trying to squeeze sausage links out of a spaghetti maker.

We will return to the plot line now…

I brought the bass out, and we were all looking at it, and Gretchen asked, “How much did that thing cost?”

Before I could say the price, Moe exclaimed, “Not as much as your shoes!”