Today I turn thirty-five, so I would like to officially announce my candidacy for President of The United States! Just kidding. I actually have much simpler aspirations for my first day as a thirty-five year old – to take it easy, eat some good food, and maybe catch a movie. No matter what happens, however, it is sure to be better than my eleventh.

That year on my birthday I invited some kids from my class to go see a Golden State Warriors basketball game. First, however, we met at my house to eat pizza and open presents. The presents were pretty lackluster except for one – a thirty dollar gift certificate to Toys R’ Us that this kid, Greenberg, gave me. Hot damn, I thought! Thirty bucks to buy whatever I wanted! I could not wait to make the trip to the toy store the next day.

Except I didn’t get to.

When I got home from the game that night I opened the card from Greenberg to find that the gift certificate was gone! I searched everywhere for it – I even dug through our pizza crust crammed trash – but sadly the certificate was nowhere to be found. I felt terrible. Not only because I wouldn’t get to go on a shopping spree, but also because I didn’t know what I was going to tell poor Greenberg when he asked me what I bought with the certificate.

For years I was haunted by my bonehead loss of the gift certificate – until last year when my dad pulled out some family videos. My Dad and I, along with my sister, Monica, watched these videos for a good hour or two until footage from my eleventh birthday appeared. I cringed as my eleven-year-old self opened the card from Greenberg, then looked out the window, unable to watch.

“Woah!” Monica suddenly yelled. “Did you see that?” She rewound the video and hit play.

“Here,” she said as she pointed to Greenberg in the corner of the screen. “Watch this kid!”

I watched Greenberg as my sister instructed, and what I saw blew my mind. Greenberg, after my eleven-year-old self had moved on to the next gift, subtly opened the card he gave me, pulled out the gift certificate, and pocketed it!

“That little bastard!” Monica said, laughing hysterically. “We caught him red handed!”

Talk about solving a cold case.  The crazy thing is I had watched that video at least a dozen times previously but had never noticed the crime. In any event, today I take solace in knowing it wasn’t my fault…but Greenberg, if you’re reading this, I want my damn gift certificate back – with interest!