Sunday, February 04, 2007

You can't always get what you want

I collect sports media guides.

I prefer them to yearbooks, with the big glossy pictures, and programs, which are unique to every game. I like the extra information, I like the stats and history, I like a lot about them. They tell me something about the players.

I was pretty excited the other day when I inherited a bunch from the sports department at the paper. They'd dumped them in an office a friend of mine got, and she was going to throw them out if they didn't take them. They didn't take them. But I intercepted several on the way to the trash.

I chose the best ones, and I confess to being sad that I couldn't save them all. As if they were pets or something.

I don't even have room for them on my shelves. And with my back, Lord knows when I can get two cartons' worth out of the office to my truck.

I was really excited.

But my excitement has been dampened by reality. Fiscal reality and the reality of collecting.

See, if there's one thing I truly collect when it comes to media guides, it's Oakland Raiders media guides. The team started in 1960 and I have every single one since 1967, except the elusive 1968.

I also have many postseason guides, including one from their last three Super Bowls.

Why the sorrow?

Because, to my delight, I spotted someone selling four pre-1966 guides on eBay!

And they're going for exorbitant prices.

I'm talking several hundreds of dollars apiece.

I bid far, far more than I should have; I'm talking borrow from the credit cards, do my taxes fast for the refund and start selling bodily fluids more.

And I was still outbid. The auctions aren't over yet, but I know I can't in good conscience go any higher than maybe just a little bit. It won't be enough to win.

My buddy Dave, the Philadelphia Flyers fan, managed to collect every Flyers yearbook (what the NHL called media guides up until a few years ago) ever made. Forty years' worth.

I've got the same number of Raiders guides - except that elusive 1968 - but I don't have them all.

The one thing I'd like to achieve, and I'd be a zillion steps closer if I could win those auctions.

But I can't. Even if I vowed not to buy another DVD for the rest of the year, even if I sold my PS3 and hell, even if I sold my entire rest of my media guide collection, I doubt I could come up with enough money to justify it.

I have a mortgage. I have bills. Credit cards, utilities, cable, all that. Car payment. Responsibilities.

I was just telling someone tonight that despite everything I read at work about saving-saving-saving for retirement, I believe in spending now, and not sacrificing for 40 years to enjoy 15. I put away for retirement, don't get me wrong. But I want to enjoy my life. Every day.

I should've stuck to wrestling figures. I bought a few of the new-style ones recently, and they're growing on me enough that I think I might buy some more. As a consolation, I guess.

I don't know.

What I do know is, I want those guides. I would bid $1,000 for them if that's what it took to get them. Hell, part of me is scared to death before the auction ends, I will.

I don't have the money. I have the credit limit. I'd be paying them off until the end of time, and the debt I have already - which probably isn't that bad - sits in my self-conscious, depressing me.

I don't like to wish for money. When I dream of being rich, I often think first of all the money I'd give away to all the causes I wish I could support, all my friends; sure, I'd pay off the mortgage and quit my job and all that good stuff, but I'd rather give than receive, I really would.

But today, I wish I had money for me. Or I wish that auction were over, so I wouldn't keep looking at it and thinking about my credit cards, and telling myself I could die any day and I should live how I want to live.

And thinking about the collection, of all the collecting I've ever done the one I love the most, the one I may never complete.