NEW YORK — We crossed paths a few months ago when you blew up my spot on eBay. I bet you don’t remember me. But I remember you.
How could I forget? For years, I had searched and came away empty-handed. I took a job that sent me from city to city, and at every stop, I scoured through mom and pop sporting goods stores in hopes that my quest would be over. My efforts proved fruitless.
Then, I discovered eBay. Sure, I was a good decade late to the party. But it didn’t matter, and in a few months, I had at long last found my holy grail.
It was in perfect condition, in better shape than I could have hoped, and in mere days it would have been mine.
Then you showed up.
It was most unexpected, really, because how many people on this planet could covet a vintage Detroit Tigers baseball cap as much as I would?
It was perfect: manufactured well before the days that sporting a baseball cap was considered cool, and way before rappers decided to wear them in their music videos. Come to think of it, when this cap left the factory, a decade would pass until rappers would even came into existence.
About 20 years ago, Major League Baseball began slapping their logo on the backs of every on-fieldncap. But this Tigers cap was so old that there was no logo, That’s exactly the way I remember them when I was a kid, when Lou Whitaker, Alan Trammell and Sparky Anderson wore them at old Tiger Stadium, and when Magnum P.I. wore one in Hawaii.
I had close calls before. A few times I’d come across these rare Tigers caps only to find they were the wrong size. But this beauty on eBay, the one with a starting price of $50, fit perfectly. Size 7 1/4.
I waited until the auction was only a few hours from closing before making an aggressive bid: $100. No way would somebody shell out that kind of money for an old ballcap.
I believed this for about 20 minutes. That’s when I got the email informing me that I had been outbid. It was you.
From there, the details of what came next remain fuzzy, perhaps obscured by my building rage. I went up to $125. Then $150. Then $175. Then $185. Each time the same message popped up: outbid.
Looking back, I still don’t know what came over me. All I remember for sure was the intoxicating surge of unmitigated capitalistic desire as I punched the following keys in the box marked bid:
This time, there was no message telling me I had been outbid. With about a minute left to go until the auction would end, I had the lead and the ball. And you had no timeouts.
Or so I thought.
There couldn’t have been more than a minute left when I got the message one more time: outbid!
With only seconds left, there was no time for anger, though if there were I would have fantasized about tracking you down so I could use your face to practice hitting my 7-irons. Decision time had come.
I thought first of all the cool things I could do with $200 bucks — buy gifts for my girlfriend, pay my student loans on time, donate it to an orphanage — and decided that enough was enough.
And then I thought, “screw this guy!” But before I could finish typing $250, it was too late. My perfect Tigers cap. Sold to you. For $202.50.
For a few days, I imagined you in situations that would make me feel better about letting the Tigers cap slip away. I liked to think of you waiting by your mailbox, eager for your cap to arrive. I liked to think of you tearing through the box only to see that the dirty rotten seller had duped you. Not only was there a logo on your $202.50 ballcap, there was also one of those pathetic one-size-fits-all straps.
I liked to think of your girlfriend finding out that you blew the money you had saved for her anniversary gift on a shitty ballcap that you could have bought for 50 cents at any respectable flea market. I liked to think of the IRS docking your pay because you had fallen behind $202.50 behind in your college loan payments. I liked to think of kids showing up on your doorstep with tears in their eyes, explaining how a donation of just $202.50 would pay to keep their orphanage open from getting shut down, and all you could do was stand there like an empty-handed asshole in a one-size-fits all cap that is still somehow too small for your misshapen cranium.
But with the benefit of time, I realized the error in my ways, which is why I am writing you today. I want to thank you for saving me from a stupid decision.
Now that my bloodlust has subsided, it is clear in my mind that no ballcap, no matter how rare, no matter how many dusty old stores I’ve scoured, is worth $202.50. Spending that much money on something as trivial as a ballcap is simply irresponsible.
I mean, what kind of jerk would seriously consider blowing two bills for a fucking baseball cap? So, despite my initial hard feelings, I can’t thank you enough for teaching me a valuable lesson in restraint.
Now, if you’d excuse me, I’ve got to dust off the six old ballcaps that I just bought on eBay for 200 bucks.
— 30 —