Kids: Don't Buy This At Home

By Chip Grimshaw

Panel 1: A young boy, no more than 9, sits in front of an old computer monitor.

Panel 2: We see the text on the monitor, a green courier on the black background.

     > So you okay with that? The price is okay?

     > Yep. Let me give you my address.  You can come by any time.

Panel 3: The boy has a big smile on his face, like a cat who just caught the canary.

Panel 4: Off in the background, the boys parents are a wee bit concerned, but strangely keep their mouths shut.

A bit of background: before the utter prevalence of the Internet and broadband, it was possible to do online communication and whatnot by calling a dedicated line and connecting to a computer there. Said computer ran programs called BBSs, or Bulletin Boards, and you could send messages, play games, and even chat.  Really, you could do all types of things you can do nowadays, but you had to do it all in text.  As a comparison, your standard connection nowadays is about 34,000 times faster than what was considered high speed in the early 80s.

But at 9 years old, I really didn't care. As long as my parents didn't mind me taking up the phone line for a bit, I could play free games, talk to people, and find all kinds of shared interests. One such interest, of course, was comic books. And when I found out someone was looking to sell one of his old longboxes for only $50, I jumped at the opportunity.

I can only imagine now what my parents must have thought. This was before Chris Hansen became a household name, before soccer moms were trading tips on blogs, and before you could watch an entire season of a TV show using your phone. All they knew is that some random guy their son had talked to on the family computer was going to show up at their house.

The exchange went off without any problems.  I got a nice random set of comics, a good number of Batman issues, and Amazing Spiderman #188, the second appearance of Jigsaw.  Years later now, I wonder…did my parents go along with the sale just for the sake of things?  Did they really trust my 9 year old sense of judgment?  Or was my dad waiting nearby with a baseball bat just in case things got bad?  And more so, when I have children of my own, what will my reaction be if they want to give some guy they've never met $50 for a box of comics?

Chip Grimshaw has probably spent more time on computers in his lifetime than is healthy, but he doesn't care. With a name like Chip, he was destined to either use computers or be a potato.