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  • When I was 9, I went to see Forrest Gump with my mom. As we left the theatre, she was stuck on one line from the movie and asked me, "Forrest told people 'Mama always said...' What does your mama always say?" And proceeded to spend the next 15+ years coming up with phrases that would stick.

    My mama always said keep a puchkie.
    What's a puchkie? It's part of your bank account that you keep separate tabs on. It's where you put your "free money." When you get your taxes back, or a bonus or find $20, that all goes into your puchkie. Spend it on yourself, she would say. So just before my twentieth birthday, I moved into a new apartment and bought myself a housewarming/birthday present. I found a piano on Craigslist in the area for $800. Using the "college student excuse," I talked her down to $200. We decided to meet up before I made my decision. But for whatever reason, we couldn't get to the house so we met up at Starbucks where she showed me some pictures, told me it's in great working condition, just needs a tuning. I cut her a check and told her I'd pick it up the next day. After work, I got the address and headed over with 3 of my friends.

    My mama always said haste makes waste.
    Thinking USC is small and that we'd probably only move it a few blocks, we headed to the house with an old dolly. As it would happen, the house was about a half mile southwest of campus, and we lived northeast of campus. This 1924 Schultz upright was a heavy mother. We were moving so slow and figuring out how to avoid potholes, ditches and curbs. We pushed it through campus. So as we slowly push this monolith down McClintock Ave, campus police are passing us, real police and summer school students. We're a little scared the police are going to do or say something. But, nothing. We overcame that fear pretty fast and decided to have some fun.

    My mama always said if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong.
    Imagine 4 guys pushing a huge upright piano through the center of our college campus. We decide to open it up and play as we pushed. So we're serenading passing girls, singing about how heavy it is, and having a great time. As we near the campus exit, maybe an hour later, it's clear that we're running out of daylight. We may have run into a problem. We're rounding McClintock, about 4 blocks away and realize we're in trouble. It's nearly dark, but even worse, our dolly is becoming inoperable. The weight of the piano has crushed the wheels. We're out of time and there's no way to get it home. After some deliberation, we decided push the piano up to the apartment building on the corner and cover it with a sheet for a day. One day turned into two. Then three...

    My mama always said it takes a stronger person to admit he's wrong.
    Five days later, I bought a new dolly and a bigger group to push it back to the house. It's much faster and we finally make it to the apartment. Push it up to the door, only to realize that this piano will not fit. The turn at the front and the back door are simply too tight to make it in. Do we leave it outside? Do we just sell it? Now what?!

    It took 8 people to flip the piano vertically, slide it through the door on an angle and slowly lower it back down in the living room.
    The tuning cost more than the piano itself.
    And from that day on, the piano was named Ulysses for the epic journey it went on to get back home.
    Don't even ask how we got it out... (my mama never said anything about repairs)
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