I’d been carrying around a pair of two-dollar bills in my wallet that I didn’t really know what to do with. It felt weird to use them for any ordinary purchase so they just kind of sat there for a few months. I kept waiting to run out of other bills, thinking at that point I will be forced to use one of them to buy my morning coffee at the bodega on the corner, but fate intervened, and I always had a spare buck or two to use instead.

One day, as I was leaving the home of a student I tutor, I passed by her younger brother and his friend, each no older than seven, yelling, “CRYSTALS, NAME YOUR PRICE!” from their stoop. Intrigued, and presuming they were directing the somewhat aggressive sales pitch to me, the only person within earshot, I responded, “Any price at all?”, after which the business partners conferred with one another by way of a knowing glance and answered, “Just name your price…even a dollar.” Never one to pass up a good deal, I began to search for my wallet when the shrewd mini-businessmen, sensing they’d already made the sale, immediately started up-selling me, “But you know, it’d be even better if you give us two dollars so we each get one.” I couldn’t argue with their rock-solid reasoning, but then they threw me a curveball with, “or even a two-dollar bill which is extra special”.

It was clear at that point that the situation was no longer in my hands, or perhaps never was. Fate had completely taken over, choosing to speak to me through a vessel with a mild lisp that would eventually be eradicated by orthodontics. Well, you should have seen the look on the kid’s face when, WHAM! I pulled a two-dollar bill out of my wallet. I handed it to him, a relic of yesteryear, and his friend instantly realized the flaw in their last-minute bill specification request, but handled the blow gracefully by suggesting to the now majority shareholder of their enterprise, “You know if we combine our money, we can buy even more.” Newly acquainted with his wealth, his friend hesitated, but then, lo and behold, a second two-dollar bill appeared from my wallet and everything was right again between the pals. They handed me a small, jagged rock, and with that the transaction was complete.

Anyway, that’s the story of how I paid four dollars for a pebble of chipped asphalt.

Actual photo of the acquired “crystal”.

Data scientist, math tutor, actor, writer. Not necessarily in that order.