When I was 20 years old, I burned down a house. And I loved it. Burn, baby, burn. Okay, it was part of my job. I worked for Brown Kimbrough, a farmer, who had an abandoned house on his property. We doused that baby inside and out with accelerant late one summer day and set it ablaze. Nothing was harmed in the activity except, possibly, a mouse or two.
While we were going through the house for the last time, sloshing gasoline everywhere, I spotted an old tobacco tin nailed to the wall. It was the only furnishing left in the house.
Ron, you don’t know anything about tobacco tins, but you’ve never seen one like that. It could be an antique. Why don’t you take it with you?
I always listen to the voice in my head, so I took it. I remember the tin was green and cream-colored with gold lettering, but I don’t remember the brand of tobacco, and I’ve never seen another one like it. I took it back to college with me and kept it in my dorm room, imagining how it was increasing in value day by day. When I moved into a house near campus, the tin came along. How much was it worth by then? Twenty, thirty dollars? When I moved to Kentucky, it made the trip, too. Through six apartments and houses, I kept that tin, displaying it proudly in my bedroom. When I married, the tobacco tin got a more prominent position on a book shelf. We moved to a new city, and the tin made two more moves, each year growing in value and prominence, I assumed. Would it be unreasonable to think it was worth a hundred dollars by then?
After about ten address changes, various jobs, a wife, a child, a dog and a mortgage, something occurred to me.
Ron, why are you displaying a rusty old tobacco tin in your den? You’re opposed to smoking.
Because you told me it was an antique. Remember?
I’m your voice, but not necessarily your voice of reason.
We had a garage sale before our next move. I sold that unique, priceless antique tobacco tin for five bucks.