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  • That’s me. That’s my dad, back when he was a looker, and I was, as you can see, Daddy’s Princess. That phase lasted until I was about ten. Sometime after that I permuted into sullen teenager and after that, well, you can imagine. You probably lived it yourself. Dad just got…irrelevant.

    Yeah, we did Thanksgiving with the turkey, Christmas with the presents, but Dad’s generation was beatniks, mine was Disco Duck. What the hell did we have to talk about?

    A few months ago Dad got a phone call. The Jamaican/Canadian Sweepstakes phone call. The one where you win a million dollars, but you can’t collect until they receive a thousand dollars from you for the taxes. He sent them the money and soon after that he got another phone call with another requirement for money. Bureaucracy, the caller jokes. Because everyone knows that these are just the hoops one has to jump through because the government must get theirs.

    Dad’s been getting calls regularly since then. He’s a good mark. So honest he can’t imagine someone else might not be. He’s cashed in his retirement, sold his car, taken out credit cards and maxed them to meet the sweepstakes collection requirements. Government, the caller jokes. Dad laughs hollowly, sends off another money order.

    Everyday he sits in front of his big screen TV with Little League on and the telephone cradled in his lap. He’s waiting for the call where they tell him they’re on their way with the big round bags that have dollar signs embossed on the front. Everyday they call, but it’s always for one more payment to get the paperwork pushed through, rather than an order to stand by for the windfall.

    The man’s not senile. It’s just the serotonin talking.

    He’s a retired school teacher. Former big man on campus. He’s used to people looking up at and to him; he headed his department and coached the basketball team which always won due to his skill and level-headedness. He bought us a house, fixed our scrapes, fed and clothed us, got us through the sullen teen years with our one permanent mood: surly. We were surly when he pleasantly asked us how our day was. Surly when he kissed our forehead to feel for fever. We were surly even when we called him up on rainy nights to tell him the car was stuck in a sand dune and we didn’t know what happened but could he please come and get us and oh yeah, it’s out of gas too. Without saying a word of rebuke, he’d save our ass and go get the car the next day.

    And all he’s got now is a big-screen TV with nothing but Little League on.

    Because now our problems can’t be fixed with basketball mojo, hammer, saw, or phone calls in the middle of the night. It’s not a case of a flat tire. It’s a marriage gone wrong, a mortgage defaulted, an alcohol addiction, a husband that beats you.

    One day this man gets a call promising a million dollars. Can you imagine the serotonin hit from that? A million dollars goes a long way to return a big man to his campus. He can pay off a house, hire a lawyer or a hit man, whatever it takes. He can fix anything now because he’s got the dough.

    Only the money doesn’t come. What does come everyday is a phone call with its hit of serotonin. What would you do? I’ll tell you; you’d turn into an addict same as any crack head.

    What gullibility you say. You smirk. I don’t blame you. It’s funny when you think about it. This former head of a department falling for such an obvious scam. It’s funny to imagine him sitting there in front of the big screen, Little League on the tube, phone in his lap as he “waits for his call.”

    It is humorous and when it happens to your dad, I’ll be laughing my ass off. Right now, though, it’s just not funny to me.
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