For some parents, the moment their child tells them they want to spend thousands of dollars a year to go study music ranks somewhere in between coming out of the transvestite closet and joining the Nazi party on things they don’t want their child to do.  Mine, thankfully, were much more accepting of the choice, and I think it may have had a lot to do with the fact that I would have been just the worst person ever in the traditional business world.  Here are a few of the foolproof business opportunities I tried to start up as a kid.

Bednar’s Blacksmithing


Like many kids of the millenial era, after watching The Lord of the Rings movies I developed a strong and incredibly nerdy obsession with the Middle Ages.  No one ever bothered to tell me that there weren’t actually orcs and sexy elf ladies in the real Middle Ages, so the obsession burned on for several years.  I collected everything medieval I could get my hands on; I had toy armor, knight action figures with mace-swingin’ action and a photo with the King at Medieval Times.  However, despite the incredible amount of feudally-themed knick knacks I had lying around, I still felt empty.  I was lacking the most basic medieval object of all: the sword.

Having a sword would really round out my collection, so I begged my parents day after day to let me buy one off of many of the reputable sword dealers on eBay. Sensing about 10,000 ways having a sword in the house could lead to disaster, (my brother once chased me around the house with an X-acto knife for not letting him play my drums, a sword could only have exacerbated that situation) they repeatedly said no.  It was time to take action into my own hands.

There were, after all, other ways to get swords in this world besides paying weird men on the internet to send them to me!  I saw people making swords all the time in movies, how hard could it be? This was a question that I asked myself, and apparently never bothered to answer, because if I had attempted to answer it the answer would have been a loud and resounding “VERY hard. It is VERY hard to make a sword.”  Luckily I didn’t have time for answering my own questions; I was far too busy laying the groundwork for Bednar’s Blacksmith.  I scavenged around the house and garage for any scraps of metal that looked like they could theoretically become a sword.  After 3 hours of searching, I didn’t find anything, so I just grabbed a pipe and started wacking it with a rubber mallet for a while.

After 20 minutes of pipe-wacking, a phrase here that is actually NOT a euphemism, it became clear to my adolescent brain that I had a gift for iron-working (still not a euphemism) that needed to be shared with the world.  I abandoned my barely-dented pipe and went inside to make a sign for my new blacksmith shop.  After 2 hours of backbreaking labor in Microsoft Word, I had a sign for my business in my front lawn but had already officially abandoned my one real attempt at making a sword. Luckily no random passers-by actually asked me to craft them anything, even despite my reasonable prices.  It would not have ended well.

The Elgin Roller Hockey League


It seemed like kids in TV shows and movies were literally always off to go play some sort of pickup game with their friends.  I don’t know where these kids grew up, but it was clearly not Elgin, IL.  I had never once seen a bunch of kids spontaneously start playing any sport unless you count running away from girls as a sport.  However, this total lack of real-life precedent couldn’t stop my dreams.  And I had some big dreams.  Not content to simply try and organize a pickup game with my friends once or twice, I aspired to create the town’s first and foremost for-profit roller hockey league, all at the age of 8.

The plan looked simple on paper.  I was going to round up enough people to make 8 teams, build an arena for us all to play in, buy uniforms for the teams, promote the league at major events, charge people $5 to come see our games, write a bitchin’ theme song for whenever someone scored a goal — wait, that’s not very simple at all…

Now, apart from the general craziness of this scheme, there were quite a few reasons why this was just a totally ridiculous idea.  For starters, I had never actually played a roller hockey game.  I had no friends who played hockey.  I knew no one who played hockey.  I just really liked The Mighty Ducks 2 and they looked like they were having a good time.

The second reason that his was a ridiculous idea is related to that old real estate trope: Location, location location! Now, I don’t mean to push stereotypes, but apart from two exceptions, everyone I’ve ever known to like hockey has been a honky-ass cracker.  This was trouble for me, since I was living in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood of a heavily Hispanic town.  So even on the off chance that I found enough people to form teams for this league, (at the league’s peak I had 2 whole people registered) there was pretty much no market for a U10 amateur roller hockey league in my town, no matter how bitchin’ their theme song was.  By the time I finished building the 2,000 seat stadium I had planned and stocking it with slurpee machines and an arcade, it was gonna be awful tough to break even.

But I guess it wasn’t a total wash because I designed some sweetass uniforms. If anyone’s ever looking for a cool jersey for a really awful hockey team, I can hook you up.

Wyeth’s Strawberries


While a little kid starting a strawberry stand might seem like the least ridiculous item on this list so far, I assure you, this was perhaps my most poorly conceived attempt at money-making ever.

For reasons that still sort of escape me, I went through a brief phase where I was super into planting things. Usually I go through phases because I watched a movie that made things look really fun, but either I had a fundamental misunderstanding of The Constant Gardener, or I was just really bored one afternoon.  As such, I set about to plant my very own garden.  My dad is a landscape architect and avid gardener, so the backyard was off limits for my tiny plot. I had to move my operations to a small patch of dirt next to the house.  Along with a small pack of strawberry seeds I got from my neighbor, my garden amounted to a spearmint plant, 4 dandelions, 1 sprout of crabgrass, 2 sticks and a hole I dug before I realized I didn’t actually have any more seeds to put in it.

Now, as I mentioned before, my plot of land was confined to the side of the house, well out of reach of the hose.  After walking back and forth a couple of times to fill up the watering can, I got sick of the effort involved.  When it came time to plant the strawberries, the flagship of my new garden, I had already completely written off walking back to the spigot as an option.  So instead I just stuck them in the ground and then spent about an hour spitting on the dirt repeatedly.  I planned to sell these strawberries in a little wooden box with a picture of me in a straw hat and a logo that read: “Wyeth’s Strawberries – Watered Wid’ Mah Own Spit!”

Luckily the strawberries died because you can’t grow strawberries with saliva, and no one ever had to eat my spit-watered strawberries.  You can all be very thankful I decided to go into composition, where it’s decidedly harder for me to inadvertently poison people.