I reasoned that there is a good chance that I've already thrown away a fortune.
During the summers of our youth in Humboldt, when playing PeeWee baseball, my brothers and I would, when we had a few nickels in our pockets, buy bubble gum from the concession stand housed deep inside the wooden grandstand at our town's ballpark.
All we wanted was the gum. We could care less about the baseball cards that were also in each package, and we'd simply throw them away.
Mickey Mantle started playing with the Yankees before I was born, but during those hot summer days in Humboldt in the early 1960s, his knees and liver hadn't worn out yet and he was still immensely popular.
Who would know those baseball cards would actually be worth something someday.
"I bet I threw away a fortune," I explained.
This realization of letting riches slip away through my fingers gives me a greater appreciation for Celeste Brantolino's recent 15 minutes of fame.
Celeste, who works as a human resources consultant in Cranston, RI, is originally from Meckling, and wound up on the quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire.
Perhaps "quiz" isn't really a good term to describe Millionaire. The Price Is Right, where one guesses how much a George Foreman grill sells for, within a $20 range, is a quiz show.
Millionaire is much more taxing on the brain than a quiz show.
But it gave Celeste, who is a 1985 graduate of Wakonda High School, an opportunity to turn knowledge into wealth.
Celeste started her hot seat adventure on Friday, Dec. 2. Her holdover appearance aired on Monday, Dec. 12. Celeste started Monday's show, looking at the $300 question and had all three of her lifelines left. Millionaire aired a specialty week from Dec. 5-9 called "Teacher Week."
After the "Teacher Week" episodes aired, Celeste returned to the hot seat in Millionaire on Dec. 12.
I'm going to attempt to recreate her experience right here in this column, so you readers who didn't see the show can get an inkling of how well you would have done answering the questions pitched her way.
Celeste used her "Ask The Audience" lifeline on the $8,000 question, which was: "What popular rap song begins with the remark ?Oh my god, Becky, look at her butt. It is so big?'"
Here are the answers she had to choose from: A) Bust a Move, B) Baby Got Back, C) Ice Ice Baby, D) U Can't Touch This.
How is anyone in their right mind supposed to know the answer to such a stupid question? Both the studio audience and the AOL Instant Messenger audience voted overwhelmingly for "B." Celeste decided to go with their advice and was correct.
Celeste used her "50-50" lifeline on the $16,000 question, which was: "What magazine, which published its thousandth issue in 2005, has run over 100,000 jokes in its 83-year history? A) Ladies' Home Journal, B) Family Circle, C) The New Yorker, D) Reader's Digest." After using the "50-50," Celeste was left with "B" and "D" as options. Celeste guessed the answer to be "D" and was correct.
Celeste used her last remaining lifeline, the "Phone-A-Friend," on the $25,000 question, which was: "Which of these chemical compounds consists of more than two different elements? A) Sucrose, B) Cyanide, C) Ammonia, D) Hydrogen peroxide."
This is the type of question every quiz show contestant dreads. You actually have to be almost rocket-scientist smart to answer something like this. Don't peek. What's the correct answer?
Celeste's "PAF" was not able to help her come up with a definitive answer. Celeste decided to take a guess and answered "B." Unfortunately, the correct answer was "A."
Celeste could have decided to not take a guess on the $25,000 question and walk away with the guaranteed $16,000 that she had already won. Unfortunately, she fell back to $1,000 in winnings.
Who am I to criticize? I spent my youth littering the Humboldt Baseball Park with a trail of Mickey Mantle cards.