The childhood treasures more valuable than any gold

Rubber bands were invented in 1845 so little boys could blind people at 10 paces.

Rubber bands were invented in 1845 so little boys could blind people at 10 paces.

OPINION: Treasure. That's what it's all about. Distil life down to its very essence and that's what you get. Treasure, and the pursuit of.

And here I am, quite unexpectedly, now in possession of a genuine haul. A mother lode of the stuff. I am a wealthy man. 

There is one slight asterix to add to that wealth. My current abundance of treasure is in rubber bands which means, even though this is still treasure, it's approximately 29 years past the time when it was a treasure that would have set me up for success and power.  

Thrown effectively, a green karaka berriy can stunt a boy's development into a secure adult.

Thrown effectively, a green karaka berriy can stunt a boy's development into a secure adult.

This tardy fortune began arriving about a year or so ago, delivered each morning around the rolled-up paper, and I now have hundreds. 

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This hoard doesn't mean as much to me as it would of to my 11-year-old self and I will tell you why.

Now I can't say for sure, but in 1987 I believe there was a global rubber band shortage and this distorted their value among an entire generation of boys. Me being one of those boys. 

Because though the scarcity of rubber bands was devastating to newspaper delivery men and criminals who had rolls of cash to keep together, it was most keenly felt by pre-pubescent 11-year-old lads who had an instinctual suspicion rubber bands were their only true path to happiness. 

With a rubber band you could stretch one end from your thumb, aim it at someone and by the simple act of letting go, blind them. How much that is worth is basically inestimable.

You could also use a rubber band to fire squares of spit-wet paper at that girl you sort've liked, which was extremely useful, and if you connected 10 rubber bands together and attached a small fishing sinker to the end you essentially had a retractable bullet.

If you've never wanted one of those at least twice a week it's quite possible you're not actually human.  

So I hardly need to tell you that a boy with hundreds of rubber bands would be a fella with no small amount of influence and power to shape his world and so amassing them was a common and, on account of the shortage, usually futile preoccupation.  

After rubber bands, or maybe before, a boy's treasure could be measured in karaka berries.

The primary reason for wanting karaka berries was so you could throw them at other boys to hurt them enough to make them cry. 

The best cry-making berries were hard and green and could only be obtained by either being an exceedingly good tree climber, or having a contact in the country who had a secret stand of karaka trees as yet untouched by little boys. 

In Form One I had a brief three week period (following my discovery of a virgin karaka tree on the banks of the Oakura River) when 90 per cent of the storage space in my desk was taken up by karaka berries, aka absolute power.

This immense wealth allowed me to become the Don Corleone of my classroom. Admittedly my swift ascendancy left me quite unfit to wield such power and my insecurities saw me carry out a number of largely unnecessary karaka berry hits on those who really didn't deserve it.

But those early forays into despotism haven't been without a useful legacy. To this day there are men out there who know they cried at the hands of my karaka berries and so I retain a power over them that has, no doubt, stunted their adult development and explains their penchant for cuddly toys. 

Such practical wealth as my karaka berry pile is more difficult to find now that I am older.

Money is no substitute. People can simply deny money means anything to them and say such ridiculous things as; the best things in life are free, or, the most powerful thing in the world is love. 

You cannot parry away a rubber band to your eye or a karaka berry in flight with such sentimental rot. That's what makes them genuine wealth.

When I talk about treasure now with my son, his is measured in chests full of ice cream, seas of popcorn or a pet dragon whose fiery breath turns all it touches to chocolate. These are real riches in a little boy's world.  

So I can understand why he's not overly impressed when I magically pull $1 coins out of his ears. While it is indeed a wonder at how his father manages to find chunks of metal in his ears that he could not find himself just moments before, the metal itself is hardly useful except to throw at the cat. 

I have to give it to him. He's only three-years-old but he's got his priorities right. Which is half the reason I'll keep on collecting those rubber bands.

They're not much use to me but I have a feeling their immense value will be recognised by someone soon enough. 

 - Stuff


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