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MACHO MADNESS Family Scamming
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When I was growing up I wasn't past pulling a quick one on my parents.

I was talking to my daughter, Rachel, recently about this. I was telling her about the weekend visit her mom, Donnelle, and I took a couple weeks ago out of state to see my mother, and how the subject of my mom's coin collection came up.

In the late 1960s, when I was about eight or nine years old, my folks ran a Quik Stop market, and my mom would keep her eye out for old coins and those minted prior to 1965. (Pre 1965 coins still have 90 percent silver content, as opposed to today's coins, which are essentially made of worthless metals.) My mother would snatch these coins from the till, and eventually toss them into a big jar she kept on a shelf at home.

Around this time, after my brother and I were literally eating into the store's profits, my parents assigned us small jobs at the market, which they paid us for. They would then have us pay a nominal sum for the various candies, slurpies, and sodas we consumed each day.

It was a lesson in restraint and economics for both of us.

Until I, being the older and more devious sibling, figured a way around this injustice.

As I told my mother during the recent weekend visit - over her laughter - I used to dip into her magic coin jar for a little pocket change of my own. I would then 'purchase' my own candy, put the coins in the till, and be on my way.

My mother would amble over a short time later, discover the coins, make a happy noise, and take the coins home to put in her jar.

There were winners all around, I recalled thinking as a boy.

Some of those coins must have made up to 15 to 20 twenty round trips each.

I always thought she had figured it out, but after all those years she had never known.

As I told Rachel about this, I asked her about scams where she had tortured her parents - namely, Donnelle and I - while she was growing up.

"Wait until I'm 30," she said.

As we laughed, Rachel then made an observation.

"Dad, you were always the torturer."

She then reminded of the Flu Shot Incident.

First, in my defense, all middle schoolers are devil children. I think most parents would agree with this.

With Donnelle's job at a school district and the kind of work I did in my previous career, we were ahead of our time in getting family flu shots. Rachel, being 13 at the time, objected to this, though, mostly because she was 13.

When the two of us went to get our shots, with her sighs and eye rolling, Rachel let it be known that she thought flu shots were stupid. And when she didn't get a reaction from that, she simply told me so.

Being a dad, and even more cunning than she could ever know, I decided to get even.

After obtaining our shots, we began driving across town when I flared my nostrils out, causing my face to look like I had spouted two holes in the middle of it.

Like all 13-year-olds, Rachel was concerned about her appearance. Everything had to be just right, and after obtaining our flu shots I noticed her checking her hair in the car mirror. We were on the way to some school function or other, where other evil middle school kids were gathered, and she wanted to be ready, I guess.

Rachel glanced over at me, and asked, "What's wrong with your nose?"

I looked over at her, and calmly explained.

"Oh that? Just a small side effect from the flu shot. It goes away after six hours or so."

Rachel looked at me with horror, and immediately went back to the mirror, examining her nostrils.

"Didn't they explain that part of it, hon?" I asked, my voice full of sweetness.

She turned back to me, panic mixed with extreme anger on her face, and began stuttering.

"But, but, they didn't say... you didn't say anything... why?" and once again began looking at her nostrils, waiting for them to expand.

She stared at that mirror a good five minutes, studying her reflection with the pending doom of a squirrel looking up at an oncoming big rig, willing her nostrils into inaction.

She finally looked back over at me, where I was smiling, flaring my nostrils in and out, my eyes full of delight.

She didn't want to laugh, but couldn't help a couple small smirks between the "IT'S NOT FUNNY, DAD"s as she tried to look angry at her dad playing her. But then I started chuckling, and she started laughing, and soon we were both finding the event pretty funny.

For a few minutes, she was once again that little girl who laughed with her dad all the time, and I enjoyed every second of it. And in looking back, it was actually one of those moments that helped get us over some of the rough spots of adolescence.

Fortunately, 13 didn't last forever, and Rachel was awesome all through high school, as was my son, Kevin.

But now she has me wondering.

I have to wait until she's 30?

I called Kevin, and asked him what scams he had pulled growing up.

He just laughed.

Look who's being tortured now...

Craig Macho is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.