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The gymnasium was packed for the New Monument High School wrestling duel. It hadn’t even been a year since they changed the name from two confederate generals, but the full bleachers on both sides of the large wrestling mat showed a united county with a brand new look. Local rivals, Ondover High School, were battling to the last wrestler to see who had the better team. The New Monument Integrity may have changed their name and mascot, but the elite nature of their program hadn’t changed one bit.
Two wrestlers walked off the mat, one with his hand raised and his head held high, the other throwing his head gear to his loser’s spot on the bench. The referee standing in the center circle of the dark blue and orange wrestling mat was greeted by two more wrestlers from the opposing teams.
New Monument had the best pound for pound wrestler in the state defending its claim that night: Mr. Andre Atkins, a lean mean 152 pound wrestling madman. Stories of him having an incapacitated leg and still winning a state championship, loomed in the back of the Ondover wrestler’s mind. This is Andre’s senior year; he won the Virginia State Championship the previous year, and will go on to do the same this year. Everyone knows who should win the match, but it can’t be official until a hand is raised in victory.
As the whistle started the match, the wrestlers immediately clashed forward, circling around in a tornado of kinetic energy. The Ondover Spark knows that if he has any chance of winning he’s got to give it every ounce of energy and aggression he has inside his doubting soul. He fared well for the first few seconds, but about a minute into the match it became clear he was purely on the defensive against Andre’s attacks.
BAM! Like a strike from a copperhead, Andre snatched the Ondover wrestler’s leg out from under him with a perfectly executed outside single. It was only a matter of time before the Ondover Spark was defeated, and he knew it. Andre locked in the top position flawlessly, showing technique and precision in perfect balance with aggression and physicality. This type of skill does not manifest from watching instructional videos or attending wrestling clinics. Skill doesn’t come from coaches, it doesn’t come by accident, some people just have it when it comes to wrestling, and Andre had it.
His ability, raw strength, and “I will destroy you” mentality, soon overcame his helpless opponent, and just as expected, the Ondover wrestler had his back turned to the mat, struggling for his existence as a human. In wrestling, to be pinned is the ultimate let down, one coach telling me, “you might as well’ve not showed up.” It doesn’t always imply the wrestler was better than you, but it always did in Andre’s case.
The Ondover Spark, all cradled up with his left knee being minced into his forehead, began to mule kick out of desperation. With his left shoulder blade lying flat on the mat, he had to be extra mindful not to pin his other shoulder with all the kicking.
Andre, violently tightening the flailing wrestler’s head and leg together, was ever so close to one more pin, one more notch on his belt, one more reason to have the number one seed going into the state tournament. Driving his knee into the opposing wrestler’s hip, he squeezed tighter on the cradle, hoping to wrench the fight out of the near fallen competitor.
“Almost there, keep kicking, just a little more, I got you now,” EEEEEHHHHHRRRRRNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!! The buzzer screamed above the packed gymnasium, signaling the end of the first round. The ref signaled the end as well to make sure no extra moves happened in between bells. Directing both wrestlers back to the center of the ring, with the crowd going bonkers for Andre, the ref wondered how much longer the Ondover Spark would last.
Previously, Andre’s face and pace seemed amused by this lesser adversary, but now he was clearly taking offence that the Ondover wrestler had made it to the second round. The referee flipped his double sided coin, letting it wheel into a spiral after landing on the mat. It’s the Ondover wrestler’s choice; against his better judgement, he deferred the choice to the Integrity staring him down across the circle.
“Does he really think he’s going to make it to the third round?” Andre looked back at Coach Smith, asking through hand signs to be able to choose the neutral standing position. The coach shrugged his shoulders and communicated a “Sure, why not?” response. Submitting his choice to the ref, Andre placed his right foot on the green line in the center circle of the mat. The ref blew the whistle to start the second round, and from the very beginning it looked like a different match than the first.
The Ondover Spark had revealed all his secrets and the New Monument Integrity had a reputation to uphold. His timing, his moves, his defenses, his emotions, all of these integrated into his winning plans. Hunching over into his state champion wrestling stance, he reached his club hand forward and smacked the back of the opponent’s head. They clashed once more in an angry collar tie-up, but this time Andre’s takedown came much sooner. It was a double leg takedown where he lowered his level, grabbed the other wrestler’s legs and raised him into the air. Holding him in the air for a few seconds to get the crowd going, he drove the Spark into the mat (as hard as you can without getting a penalty). Andre’s technique consumed the Ondover Spark like a black hole until, forty-seven seconds into the second round, Andre pinned his adversary by means of a crushing hold called the Oakee.
With a simultaneous hand slap of the mat and whistle toot by the referee, the match was over. The wrestlers returned to the center of the circle with completely different demeanors, one a winner and the other a loser. Facing each other for the last time that year, they shook and the referee raised Andre’s hand towards the bright gymnasium lights. It’s customary to shake the opposing coach’s hand and both wrestlers honored that tradition well. As Andre was greeted by the Ondover coach, he wondered if the coach knew he had no chance to ever win a duel against New Monument High School. Ending the firm handshake, Andre proceeded confidently back towards the Integrity side of the mat, with the sound of a pleased home crowd in his headgear.
The Ondover Spark walked over to the coach that would win the state that year, just like he had four times before that. To shake the hand of the coach that produced perennial state champions for the New Monument Integrity, was an honor to any wrestler who knew his name. His teams constantly ranking top three in the state, there wasn’t an experienced wrestler that didn’t know his face. While he was Head Wrestling Coach of Life Springs Middle School, he started an undefeated streak that lasted nearly 14 years, continuing on to this day. The Ondover Wrestler nodded to the coach and clenched his hand with a respectful shake, wishing he had a coach like that.
The legendary coach stood a little under average height, with the build of an athletic wrestler, youth disappearing under aging brown skin. His tight curly hair was cut to an average length, and he rarely kept facial hair beyond some scruffle around the jaws. He had a fire in his eyes that was contagious and it burned strong in the heart of each wrestler in his starting lineup.
Coach Smith was probably one of the greatest benefactors in Andre’s success that year. He was an unapologetically emotional corner coach, and if he was upset, everyone in the gym knew it. If he was in your corner, you knew it. Andre didn’t need the best coach to win, but there was something strange about having Coach Smith in his corner, as he never seemed to lose when he was there.
As I sat in the top of the packed bleachers, watching New Monument High School dismantle its Central-Region opponent and I would dream about one day being able to wrestle under this man. One day I would be a starter on his team, and he would lead me to High School Wrestling greatness. His moves, his system, his intensity, his lessons that he had to teach, all of these would compliment my many years of wrestling ability. Like Andre Atkins before me, I would one day get to have the benefit of having a fun, hardworking, and successful coach at the best wrestling high school in the state.
I’m stuck on a familiar question as I stare through my St. Petersburg, Florida window. The rain reflects all of the statements made by the weather woman in perfect accuracy, and the bellowing thunder reminds me of the impact this decision will have on my Crypto future. She has her radar, making moves weeks ahead in order to tell me when and where this rain will fall. I have my radar and I must also decide on a path that has been brewing like a bursting steam kettle for years now. The question blasts itself into my prefrontal cortex once more: Should I buy the dip?
The black stormy evening seeps its way through my window, clinging tightly to my fully illuminated MacBook Pro. The charts I've been perusing for the last three hours seem to indicate that a downward trend may soon become an upward trend, but I’ve already been burned by hopeful economics in the past. The research has been done, the logic seems firm on where Bitcoin is positioned, but I would never pretend to be an expert on Cryptocurrency, even if I did score a bunch of Bitcoin when it was only $82.
It was five years ago today that I began my journey into the wonderful world of Cryptocurrency. I sold my car, cashed in my last check from the Burger Shack I’d been flipping in, convinced the local bank to give me a revolving line of credit, and zeroed in on making money from home. I picked up all sorts of internet jobs, and eventually had to make extra money doing side jobs as well, but it all lead to the best financial investment I ever made: buying my first Bitcoin.
There was about $5000 burning a hole in my pocket and I wanted no part of a savings account using fiat currency. Always interested in different ideas, I remembered working with a guy who knew of an investment better than any I could find on the stock market, or so he claimed. I didn't really believe him, but my curiosity eventually blossomed into a text message and I found my way to his house after finishing up my new dog walking gig.
“James! You made it!” Greg greeted me as I approached his dilapidated Florida soaked trailer. I wasn't sure that I should have even been there, but he wasn't too far into the trailer park that I couldn't make a clean getaway if needed. He swatted a roach off the screen door as he waved his hand to me, “Come on in bud! I just opened a cold one!”
Greg was a skinny dude with longish brown hair and a swindly mustache, the type of guy that would tell you he owned a Lambo just to make good conversation. He obviously didn't own a Lambo at that time, evidenced by the exterior of the brokedown trailer park palace, but as I passed the threshold of the doorway I was awestruck by his collection of expensive computers and machines, none of which I had ever seen, felt, or heard. “What is all this stuff?” I asked with genuine curiosity.
“It would take all day to walk you through my setup, but what you're seeing here is some of the best mining gear that money can buy. I’ve got three different PC’s running full nodes for three different coins, and that humming noise you're hearing are my babies, my Avalon ASIC Miners. Those babies have already sent me into the profit margin, but I'm gonna need new ones soon.” As he babbled on and swigged his beer, I realized I had no idea what he was saying. He walked over to his beat up mini-fridge, pulled out an IPA, and tossed the can into my hand from across the room, “Nice catch!”
The beer hissed with a pop of the sealed top, “Greg, I have no idea what these computers are doing, but it sure looks cool.” He had a whole wall dedicated to this technological mystery. LEDs blinked, fans hummed, monitors flashed lines of code, wires traced the outside lines of the cracking walls in the most organized fashion, the longer I looked the more I saw. The setup was so distracting that it took me a moment to realize there was nothing else in the single wide home.
Realizing simultaneously that there was not a stitch of furniture in the cardboard box of a trailer, he blurted, “Ah shit, you're gonna need a place to sit aren't you?” He immediately ran to a closet and pulled out a folding lawn chair.
It was with hesitancy that I settled into the musty old seat, “So, Greg, let's say I had a friend with $5000. What are the odds he could flip that foreal?
“Does your friend like rolling dice?”
“I think he's been to Vegas a few times.” I was still interested, but with waning optimism.
“James, you ever heard of Bitcoin?”
I had, “Isn’t that what you buy to purchase drugs on that Silkroad website?”
Greg shook his head, “Ah yes, Silkroad. It definitely had a good run. I know I used it for more than one strip of Sunshine. In fact, that’s actually what got me into Bitcoin.”
“Is the site still around?”
“Oh it's still around, but the FBI announced back in March that they had already seized about 24,000 Bitcoins, so the rest can't be far behind.”
“Interesting, what's the FBI gonna do with all them Bitcoin?”
He sipped his beer, “Sell ‘em.” Then he took another long sip, “Or keep ‘em.”
I decorated the idea of the FBI keeping seized money with a chuckle and asked, “What's a Bitcoin going for these days?”
The slender twenty five year old hopped into his rolly chair and wheeled over to the furthest right PC. He broke the silence of a screen saver and sent his mouse scrambling towards a window of moving text. “Just checking my miners real quick.” Then he pulled up a search engine I had never seen and uncovered the current value of the previously discussed cryptocurrency. “Looks like Bitcoin is currently worth around $80, rounding down.”
“That's good? I guess?”
Greg scoffed, “Silver is only worth $16 an ounce!”
This Bitcoin stuff was brand new to me and I knew from past conversation that Greg had some strong opinions about the economy and money in general. He was the one who sparked my interest in watchdogging our Federal Reserve and financial systems, making me so paranoid that I spent about an hour each morning searching for the dirtiest secrets I could discover. I was already hooked on the idea of transcending societal norms by accessing forbidden knowledge, and it was becoming clear that Greg knew something I didn’t. In an attempt to contribute to the conversation, I thought of something clever to say, “True, but an ounce of gold is worth well over $1000.” I took a sip of the bitter green hop juice.
He liked my response, “I’ll give you that, it's nowhere close to gold. But it's still way up from when I bought my first coin. Shit, Bitcoin was worth $145 a coin like three months ago.”
A bit disappointed with this news I asked, “So they are going down in value?”
“Think of it as a dip.”
“In value,” he explained with patience, “Bitcoin took a hit with some bad practice and publicity this year, but I have reason to believe she's set for a huge rebound.”
“Why is that?” I asked, taking another chug of the steadily warming brew.
He retorted with a similar chug of his own brew and then went on, “The tech is sound man. This might be a real chance to break free from the bullshit this country has pulled over the last 300 years. Freedom doesn't come from laws, it comes from currency! Put a man in debt, and you make him a slave! That's all we are here, pawns in an imaginary money system. Once people realize that Bitcoin can't be manipulated like the rest of the world’s currencies, they are going to all wish they had invested sooner. We are talking about the future here.”
“I'd have to do a bit more research, but color me interested.”
His voice was sounding increasingly candid, “Do whatever research you want bro, but the longer you wait, the more you miss out on.”
“How would I go about acquiring them should I become interested?”
“Well, James, it’s your lucky day! I just so happen to hold about 650 Bitcoins, and would be willing to part with some of them.”
After quitting on some quick mental math, I exclaimed, “Jesus dude! That must be worth a lot!”
Finishing the math in his head and counting a couple fingers, he replied, “They are worth around fifty grand on a low day.”
After taking another swig of beer, I responded, “Daaaaaaaamn dude, where did you get the money to buy all those?”
“Like I said they were much cheaper when I first started buying them. I got the first batch a couple years ago around Christmas time, and have acquired several coin since then through mining pools and private purchases.”
“How much were they worth then?”
“Well, I was like you and had about 600 bones to invest after selling all my gaming systems. I was already on Silkroad wanting to see what it was all about, and there were a few sellers offloading Bitcoins. It took a while to learn about the technology, and thank God it did. I was originally going to purchase when the value was $31 a coin, but within a few months a bubble popped and it went back down to about $2.”
“Sounds like you got lucky!” I slung back what was left of the bitter IPA and crushed the can.
Greg nodded, “I sure did, because it will never be that low again. I bought the dip then, and I’ve bought recently too.”
“That’s very interesting man, it sounds like you made a great investment. Why haven’t I heard more about this?” I was wondering why I wasn’t already into Bitcoin. It sort of felt like there was proverbial Kool Aid in front of me, but curious and thirsty, I started to sip. “Is it secure?”
“Super secure bro, more secure than a credit card or social security number.” He continued to explain the benefits of having private keys to store funds instead of a bank number that can be used freely by anyone who has the digits.
“So I can receive funds, and that address won’t give them access to my wallet?” It felt like putting a puzzle together in the dark.
“That’s the idea! You don’t need a bank to store your funds for you, you are the bank!” He drained the rest of the drink and threw it on top of the full trash can sitting by his computer desk, “You want another beer?”
“Nah, I’m good. Though, you might have talked me into getting some Bitcoin.” I laughed, but he didn’t. He pulled a beer from the little refrigerator and walked back to his computer. His face looked serious all of sudden, as if a circumstance of life or death had entered his thoughts.
“James, I’m gonna be honest with you. The last thing I wanna do is cash in my Bitcoins, but…” He tapped the top of the can and cracked it open.
He waited and was still facing his computer screen. “I’m broke man. I’ve come all this way; I went all in on Bitcoin and I’m just now breaking even. Spinning all these plates, not a single one hitting the ground, and then they go and do it.” He took another long sip, “They are releasing new miners that are going to let other punks get a bigger slice of this BTC Pie.”
With zero knowledge of mining processes I honed in on the financial part of the situation, “Damn dude, you can't just get a loan or something?”
“Nope, my credit is fucked. Maxed out credit cards, unpaid doctor bills, shit like that. I don't even have family I can get a loan from. Say, you don't want to loan me $5000 do you?”
Appreciating his sarcasm I replied, “A loan? Heck no. But I do have a growing interest in this Bitcoin thing, can you show me some graphs or charts or something? I'm more of a visual learner.” I smiled a crooked grin and raised my brows to show interest.
The clasping hand of a blue baboon running me round a Florida mangrove would have felt less clumsy than all of the technical jargon Greg began to force feed into my limited container of a mind. Hash rate, keys, bits, confirmations, some dude named Satoshi Nakamoto, nodes, an expanding collection of Altcoins, along with so many other facets to comprise a revolutionary electronic cash system. I didn't understand a single word, but damn it, that's what I loved about it. My curiosity was heavily fueled by my desire to make a change in my life, and by the end of his impromptu crash course on all things Crypto, I was ready to make a deal. “I know it's fucking crazy, but I think I'm willing to buy those coins. Greg. Five thousand dollars. Right now. How much would that get me?”
Greg stopped my thought process, “Hmm, let’s do some math here: $5000 is what your bringing to the table, divided by $82, which is the roundabout value of Bitcoin.”
He was doing math in his head when I asked, “Where did you get that value again?”
Ignoring my question he closed his eyes and finished out the mental equation, “Sixty. Sixty Bitcoin. Wow, that’s like perfect. It makes this deal seem like it was meant to be!”
Hearing the number put out into the air was electric. I had no idea what I was getting into, but couldn't shake the idea that this could be a “lucrative investment”, as Greg put it. I didn’t trust Greg entirely until he revealed his motives for selling the coins to me. “I know we didn't really hang outside of work, but man, some of those conversations/debates we had got pretty deep. Not many people in this world give a shit enough to try and keep up with what is really going on. Sure, I could just trade the coins on an exchange or use some other untrustworthy entity, but when you messaged me it seemed like fate, and I was glad I decided to plant that seed in your mind. Are you ready to be apart of the future of money?” He was on his fourth beer and really loosening up.
By this time I had grabbed the cash envelope from my backpack. It was a sealed and padded type of manilla, full of my entire positive net worth. “Fuck it.” I said, “Let's do this man. I got 5000 dead presidents right here. If you can get me all set up, this money is yours.”
It wasn't thirty minutes before he had set me up with a secure wallet, transferred the coins, and accepted the cash with a concluding handshake. We hung out for a while longer and discussed what my options were now as a Bitcoiner. “You can hodl them and refuse to sell, that's what I recommend. You could sell them tomorrow if you like, which I don't recommend. Eventually though, you’ll be able to buy anything with them, just like with cash. It's gonna be a beautiful day for humanity when our money supply isn't controlled by war mongering white people in suits.”
It was indeed beautiful when years later I was reminded by a news article about the success my Bitcoin investment was having. I did the math on my lucky number 60 and I was seeing huge profits of thousands of dollars. Ol’ Greg was right, Bitcoin would never make it back below $80 in value. Sadly, that good news gave way to a time when I also started to sell off my Bitcoin. I took the profits and bought some mining equipment and computers, started running any and all full nodes I could, joined as many forum communities as I could; when I saw the code and processes behind the grand visions of Bitcoin, I became addicted to everything Crypto and wanted to invest as much as possible! I started trading (and losing) coin on exchanges and eventually had to stop myself from day trading and go back to hodling.
Bolts of lightning strike around the initial investment that’s still burning a hole in my pockets. I’ve tried my best to remain a Hodler, standing strong in the midst of what has been a very steep fall to $6500 in value. I'm still seeing huge profit margins from my first investments, but so many other people got in at the $20,000 price range and either sold off or are really panicking at this point.
I share their panic. We all do. Fiat loses value and reputation with each passing day through devaluation and inflation occurring in tandem. Bitcoin and other crypto remain visible, open, testable, usable, provable. So the question remains as I watch another lightning bolt illuminate the glass pane of my arched windows. I count the seconds to see how far off the bolt is, and am quickly shaken out of my seat when another bolt lands somewhere in my backyard. Scrambling back into to my creaky desk chair I look at the computer screen and it seems I am going to have to live with what I just did. I had been fixated on a “confirm buy” screen for several minutes, and thanks to the menacing thunder outside, striking the deepest pits of my bones, my finger had clicked “yes” as I jumped out of theseat. I just bought the dip.