I was less than half a block from my place when I saw them: small feet scurrying on my porch, just above the bushes and just below the railing. Hot pink sneakers. Velcro.
A tiny girl with glossy brown hair peeked at me around the corner, her brown eyes widening as I approached. She ducked behind the bush, whispering furtively. Quick, quick, I heard her say. She peeked out once more.
“Hi,” I called, equal parts suspicious and amused. A moment later, she leapt from behind the bush and onto the sidewalk. An even smaller girl appeared behind her; same glossy brown hair, same tiny pink shoes. With them was an impish-looking boy; likely the oldest, probably first grade. A mop of red curls framed his pale, freckled cheeks. He wasn’t related.
“WOULD YOU LIKE TO BUY A GLOBSES?” they asked in unison, clearly rehearsed.
I came to a startled stop and laughed. “A what?”
The taller girl nudged the smaller one, who produced a sign from behind her back. “GLOBSES 4 SALE” it read in black-markered scrawl. The taller girl and the boy held out their arms from behind their backs. Along their arms was an impressive display of tiny pink and black sculptures of varying, unidentifiable shapes. They were constructed from play-doh; some with toothpicks stuck at odd angles, all unrecognizable.
“Ah,” I said, examining them closely. “Globses.”
“They’re two dollars,” the boy informed me in a tone that suggested the price was not negotiable.
“Two dollars?” I repeated, trying to disguise my surprise. I recall making similarly useless trinkets as a child, selling them on blankets with the neighborhood kids. Back then, we were charging 25 cents, but I suppose inflation’s hitting everyone.
I inspected them carefully, choosing one with a high pink-to-black ratio and a conservative number of toothpicks. I pulled out my wallet and dug through dog-eared receipts. “I only have a five,” I explained, apologetically. “Do you have change?”
“Yes!” the taller girl exclaimed proudly. She held out two shiny dimes.
“Well, that isn’t quite enough,” I said with a laugh. “Do you have three dollars?”
They shook their heads, faces fallen.
“I might have change tomorrow,” I told them, beginning to climb the steps. “Will you be back?”
“Yes!” the boy exclaimed, brightening. “Are you in apartment five or six?”
“Six,” I told him. “Maybe I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
An hour later, as I was packing my tuna sandwich for lunch, the doorbell rang, startling me. Ding-dong. Ding-dong. Ding-dong-ding-dong-DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIING-DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG.
I thought it might be my landlord, who I was expecting to drop by to fix a leaky faucet. I took the stairs two at a time, doorbell ringing the whole way down. “I’m coming, I’m coming!” I called, irritated by the ringer’s impatience. I threw open the front door.
No one was there.
“HI AGAIN.” The voice came from below.
I looked down and three familiar faces beamed up at me. The boy was holding a pink and black globses, this one twice the size of the ones before and with three times as many toothpicks.
“This one,” he said, proudly, “is five dollars.”
“That one’s awesome,” I said, trying not to laugh, “but I can’t give you five dollars.” As much as I’d love to instill an entrepreneurial spirit in our nation’s children, five dollars is a bit steep for even the finest globses.
The taller girl frowned at me, confused. “But you said you had five dollars.”
“I have five dollars,” I explained, “but if I gave it all to you, how would I pay my rent?”
They looked confused.
“I’d love to buy one from you for two dollars,” I went on, “but I’ll need to get change first.”
“When will you have change?” the smallest girl asked, speaking up for the first time.
“I’ll try to get it tomorrow.”
“Ok,” the boy said, narrowing his eyes skeptically. “We’ll be back.”
I’m sure you will.