Let me first explain why I've had that title saved. I am the type of person who never lets go of the crappy things that happen to me in life, no matter how crappy or uncrappy the experience actually was. I can't drink hot chocolate anymore because once, in elementary school, I barfed up a bunch of hot chocolate in my mom's new car. I won't go canoeing with my in-laws because once, in middle school, I was attacked by geese while in a canoe and my friends refused to help me. I refuse to play co-op video games because one kid I babysat for in high school used to camp my spawn point in 007: Goldeneye and would kill me over and over and over again. I'd spawn in a bathroom stall, and that little jerk would shoot me as soon as I'd open the stall door.
I will never get over inviting too many people to my 10th birthday party with the limousine, I will never get over saying "hell" (as in "what the hell") in front of my grandparents when I was nine years old, and I will never get over trying to tell my mom what she should teach us in 1st grade art class. I'm basically a museum display case of guilt.
I should also explain that I was not immune to Beanie Baby mania. I collected them, and like everyone else was sure that I'd be able to sell my collection someday and be rich, rich, rich beyond measure!
(Do we need to take a laughing break? Yes? Okay, go ahead and laugh. You ok now? Alright, on with the story.)
The year was 1996. Marcee Taylor and her mom had brought me along to some sort of Beanie Baby convention at the Cedar Rapids Public Library. Like the stupid little kid I was, I'd decided to bring the most valuable piece in my collection... a panda bear called Peking. Mine didn't have an ear tag, but still had the leg tag - so it wasn't as valuable as it could have been, but it was still worth upwards of $850.
A woman in her early 50's spotted me with the panda, and asked me if I wanted to trade it. The Peace Bear had recently been released (tie die fabric, zomg! What will they think of next?!?) and I told her I'd really like a Peace Bear. The woman dragged me outside of the auditorium so she could use a pay phone to call someone to help her make sure my Peking was not a fake. She talked on the phone for about 20 minutes, describing the panda in great detail. Eventually she was satisfied that my Peking was authentic, and offered me a Peace Bear in exchange. I was too young to fully understand that this was not a fair trade - an $850 retired bear for a $200 newly released bear.
Several months passed before I realized I'd been cheated. A collectibles shop had opened in the mall. I walked in, and instantly recognized the shop owner - it was the lady from the library! In the display case, next to a few $50 Peace Bears... was my Peking. With a price tag of $900.
Once I realized that someone old enough to be my mom had swindled an innocent 11-year old girl out of a very valuable (at the time) collectible for her own personal gain is something I will never forget. I imagine if I saw that woman on the street today, I'd still be angry enough to lecture her about what a terrible, slimy, reprehensible thing she'd done. Sure, I'd only asked for a Peace Bear, but come on - I was only 11 years old! Shame on her... she should have been a better person and offered more to the trade, or at least informed me that the bear was worth more than just a Peace Bear. No. Instead, she took advantage of a naive kid.
That's the story of the bitchy beanie baby lady that stole my shit.
And on another depressing side note, I always wanted a Humphrey the Camel. To this day, despite knowing that Beanie Babies are not collectible, I still want a Humphrey. At one point I remember my parents tried to cheer me up by getting me a Humphrey Beanie Buddy (larger, more plush) but it didn't make me feel any better. So, you know, if you have one of these guys in a drawer somewhere... I'd really like to buy it: