Worth Every Penny

We were sagged in a pair of folding chairs in the middle of the gymnasium, Eleven-Year-Old Tony and I, revisiting the details of the Neil Armstrong biography we'd finished during a previous lesson, when he jolted upright with a clear intent to speak.

Me: "What is it?" 

Eleven-Year-Old Tony: "If Neil's flying lessons cost nine dollars an hour and he only made forty cents an hour at the pharmacy, it would have taken him almost twenty-three hours to earn enough money for just one lesson." 

Me: "That's great math, Eleven-Year-Old Tony!" 

Eleven-Year-Old Tony: "That's a crock of shit is what it is!" 

Me: "Pardon me?"

Eleven-Year-Old Tony: "My little sister swallows more money in an hour than Neil earned. Why didn't he just ask for a raise?"

Me: "It's not that simple, Eleven-Year-Old Tony. He was only sixteen at that point. And you have to remember, forty cents was worth a lot more back then than it is now."

Eleven-Year-Old Tony: "What do you mean?"

Me: "Back then, forty cents was a decent wage for a teenager."

Eleven-Year-Old Tony (extending his hand toward me): "Here."

Me (reaching out): "What's this?"

Eleven-Year-Old Tony (pouring it into my hand): "Fifty cents."

Me: "What for?"

Eleven-Year-Old Tony: "For this hour of tutoring." 

Me (choking up): "Thanks, Eleven-Year-Old Tony, but I can't take your money."

Eleven-Year-Old Tony: "Well, I don't want it."

Me: "Why not?"

Eleven-Year-Old Tony: "Remember when I told you that my sister eats more money in an hour than Neil Armstrong earned at the pharmacy?"

Me: "Yeah."

Eleven-Year-Old Tony: "Well, I found that in her diaper this morning."