We were at my grandpa's place, and we were talking about Midas. King Midas. We'd had him in our history class. Not him in the flesh. The story about him. We thought he was cool.
I was lying on the floor with my hands behind my head. Lefty was draped all over the couch, and Mick was under the table, trying to pull the wheels off one of my cars. He did that to all my toys.
And in the chair by the window, my grandpa snored in the afternoon sun.
The teacher had given us the whole deal about Midas. He was a legendary king, not a real one. He ruled a place called Phrygia, wherever that is, and he wanted to get rich. Doesn't everybody?
Anyway, he asked the gods to make it so that everything he touched would turn into gold. That was a pretty smart idea, except that when he tried to give his wife and kids a hug or something, they turned into gold too. As if that wasn't bad enough, he also couldn't eat anything, because as soon as he took a bite - pow - the food was solid bullion!
So there was this really rich guy, with gold everything all round him, and he was starving to death! It reminded me of some rich people I'd heard about, who couldn't buy a cure for cancer. They died with their millions, just like anyone else.
"He got what he asked for anyway," said Lefty, "Serves him right for being so greedy."
"He would have made gold worthless," said Mick. (We called him that because he was left-handed)
"There'd be so much of it around, it wouldn't be valuable anymore."
"Is that why gold's so valuable?" asked Lefty.
"So if gold was everywhere, like in the sand at the beach, and in the back garden, and hanging off all the trees, we'd have to use something else instead?"
"That's right," said Mick.
"I don't know," said Mick, "Maybe blue parrot's feathers, or snail shells. Or what about water? Imagine a world with no oceans or lakes, and only a few little pools of water. People would come from all over the world to buy a few drops of water! There'd be big banks, with water in their vaults, and water-jewellery, and you'd see stuff on the news about water-robbers, who run off with water in their bottles ..."