Radio Diaries: Special Offer

Jun 23, 2017

The picture on the back of my comic book looked so real.  World War II army soldiers were firing guns and running with bayonets.  Best of all, you could get a hundred for just one dollar!

I didn’t want them for myself but for my younger brother who loved playing “army.”  Bob had a few toy soldiers but he didn’t have a hundred!  I didn’t have a dollar either but I saved my allowance and finally had enough to mail in with the coupon.  When the package finally arrived, it looked pretty small for a hundred soldiers—and then I found out why.

The soldiers were tiny, two-dimensional cut-outs in thin gray plastic.  They didn’t even stand up.  “Oh, Mom,” I cried, “They’re not like the picture!”

“No, they’re not,” she said, “but it was nice of you to do that for Bob.”

I didn’t feel nice.  I felt stupid and angry for believing in that Special Offer, for believing you could get a hundred soldiers for a dollar.

It was too good to be true, of course, and now I knew what that meant.  A hard lesson and costly, but I’ve always remembered it.  Also remembered how Bob thanked me.