My $20 Operation

If you are a child of the 80s you should remember bright colored clothing, stretch pants, teased hair, break dancing, and Cavity Sam. You remember Cavity Sam, right? He’s the operation game guy. Yep, that was the name of the patient in the game Operation. Now, I am not sure why I remember that, but trust me that was his name. Anyway, surely you remember the game Operation, right?  The rules were pretty simple. Someone dealt every one cards from the deck marked specialist. There was then another deck marked “Doctor” that was placed face down for every player to pull from when it was their turn. When a player’s turn came up, they pulled a card from the face down deck and it told them the type of operation they had to successfully perform on Cavity Sam. Now, before you fill my email with the actual instructions, these are the paraphrased ones. We’ve already covered my inability to completely comply with directions.

I gotta say, thinking back on that game brings a BIG smile to my face…but likely not for the reason you think. Hey, I wouldn’t   be me if my stories and fond memories didn’t have some twist. So, back to it. Let’s talk about a flash back that helps give more insight into how I became the person I am today.

My two sisters and I would sit around and play Operation for hours. When the batteries finally wore out and the game no longer buzzed when you touched the side while performing the operating, one of us acted as the buzzer. Yes, we were serious about our game. During one particularly intense game of Operation, my older sister and I, who’s eyesight has always been sketchy, almost got into a fist fight after she accused me of touching the sides while operating. Our exchange was so intense that we broke the game. Listen, no kid with sketchy vision was going to accuse me of cheating! Seriously, I think my sister came out of the womb with glasses. But, fight aside, good times friends, good times. But, this game gave me the idea for my longest running April Fool’s joke!

Now, I have previously shared that I L.O.V.E April Fool’s Day. It is seriously THE BEST HOLIDAY EVER! Once, I put in my great Aunt’s dentures and pretended to run face first into a end table and have all my teeth fall out. GOD, thinking back on everyone’s face STILL makes me laugh. Listen, now, I am quite sure I have an unhealthy love of April Fool’s Day, but who are you to judge me? I enjoy a great laugh. Well, unfortunately (for me, but fortunately for those around me I guess), this year I didn’t’ feel like celebrating much because it was on the heels of the very violent murder of my cousin. But, despite my grief, I STILL love April Fool’s Day and will be back to celebrating it next year. 

Given my love of all things practical jokes, it should come as no surprise that I also had recurring pranks that I would pull on certain people. One in particular still gives me a chuckle…but also makes me sad because it was kinda cruel to the unwilling participant. Back in 1987, when I was just 7 years old, my mother began taking care of her older brother, my Uncle David. My Uncle David is a paranoid schizophrenic and spent most of my childhood in and out of hospitals. In 1987 my mother decided to help with his care because of her nursing background, and moved him into our home full time. 

Growing up, Uncle David was a key figure in my house. He would watch my sisters and I walk to the bus stop some days, help us cook dinner when my mother had to work a late shift, make sure I took my meds (I also seemed to be on some medicine as a kid), and he made sure we stayed out of trouble while my mom was at work…as best he could.  He mostly accomplished that last item by keeping my sisters and I in our house. The problem was that when my sisters and I weren’t out terrorizing our neighbors, we played jokes on Uncle David. 

Every month my Uncle David received a social security check because of his mental illness. It usually arrived around the 3rd of the month, and he cashed it and received his monthly allocation from my mom around the 5th. Well, every afternoon on the 5th of each month, I would meet Uncle David at the front door with my pjs on, my Tweety Bird house shoes (yep the one with the yellow Tweety Bird Head), and my crutches (that I scored when I got the nail tumbling in the alley on a mattress) to receive my 20 dollars for my operation. Yep, you read that correctly. Every month I would collect 20 dollars from my Uncle David to go towards my operation. God, I was a little snot. Now before you get a Judgy McJudgerson, I WAS 7 PEOPLE!

So, my Uncle David would arrive to the house with about $400 dollars in his pocket. I would be peering out the blind waiting to see him walking down the streets. Once I spotted him, I would quickly run and get my crutches, throw a little water on my face (to look like I was crying), and sit on the bottom step waiting on him open the front door. As the front door slowly opened, I would let out a big cry and say “Uncle David, they still haven’t fixed me. Can you help me get my operation?” Uncle David would sheepishly look at the aging hardwood floor of our house and reply “awe honey, we gone get you to some good doctors and find out what’s wrong with you.” I would then reply “I think I found a good one. I just need $20.00 for the operation.” Uncle David would quickly reply, “sure thing.” He would then reach in his pocket, take out a big stack of cash, and thumb through the stack of money until he reached a $20 bill to hand me. Once I had the money in my hand, I would take off up the steps like lightening…not seen again until I was chowing down on $20.00 dollars’ worth of penny candy. In case you are wondering, that is a LOT of freaking candy.

Friends, I did this prank on my Uncle for over 2 years. Yes, every month for 2 years. Now, as an adult I am almost certain Uncle David knew that I was pulling his leg and being a little snot. But, what’s funny about this memory, is that it has become my life. Every time I am sick and go to the doctor, my co-pay is $20. So, Uncle David, I guess you get the last laugh…turns out I did really need all those $20s.


7 thoughts on “My $20 Operation

  1. I too had a Schizophrenic uncle who though he and his alcoholic wife (second wife he met in a mental hospital) didn’t live with us, my mother managed their lives until his wife overdosed. Then she continued to manage his life until she just couldn’t any longer then his daughter and ex-wife took over. My mom would get calls in the middle of the night that Uncle Jimmy had gone to the convenience store and apparently forgot he was naked. Poor mom and my stepdad.šŸ˜†

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Life supporting a family member with a mental illness can be very challenging. We had lots of laughs, but cried a lot too. My Uncle did and said things we didn’t’ understand as kids, but his world was so different from ours.

      Liked by 1 person

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