Thursday, February 22, 2018

You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Sez who? 

Not this old dog.

My grandma showed me how to tie my shoes ("Your mother didn't teach you?") and since then I've tussled with shoe laces.

Don't tell me to switch to shoes with Velcro closures. Unable to hold them on my skinny feet—2A with 4A heels—I walk right out of them.

So I tie my shoes. The problem: I had to stop two or three times a day to retie my shoes before they fell off my feet. Finally I felt forced to double-tie my shoe strings. That worked. I wore my shoes double-tied for years.

Then one morning my friend Stan noticed me double-tying my shoes and he laughed. "I never do that but my Elizabeth" (his ex) "always double-tied her shoes that way." 

I snorted. "Of course you never double tie your shoes, Stan. You're a man. Your shoes come with strong shoe strings, not like mine." And I grumped on into my day.

Decades passed. I still grumble when I double-tie my shoes; I grumble even more when I untie those double-knots.

Then one day I remembered that conversation with Stan. I look at my shoes. They definitely are not the shoes I used to wear: pink sneakers and the like. My current shoes are no nonsense black leather walking shoes. 

The longer I looked at them, the more they looked like a man's shoe. I examined their sturdy laces. 

Could it be that I no longer have to double-tie? That I've graduated to Stan's level?

Delighted, I decided that this old dog would learn a new trick.

So I did.

I was right. My sturdy masculine walking shoes ramble along just fine bearing a single knot.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

I Love the Way She…

Here's a change of pace from all those scammers: 
a love song for Ruby, my orange tabby cat.

I love the way she ingests:

how she tosses a mouthful of dry food on the floor, 
then nibbles one piece at a time.

how she growls if she finds her food bowl empty.

how she comes running when I pour fresh water in 
her dish.

how she sniffs the water, taps it with her paw, 
scatters it over the floor, jerks back when her 
tongue touches it.

I love the way we fight:

how she flattens her ears before she attacks me.

how she jumps on my toes when they pop out of the 
end of my jeans.

how she nips me when I cross her border, touch 
her stomach.

how she hits me—but retracts her claws—when I do 
something stupid, like blow in her face.

I love to pet her:

how she flaps her tail when I run my fingers down 
her back.

how she squeezes her eyes shut when I rub her forehead 
with my thumb.

how she curls her paws when I tell her how 
pretty she is.

how she purrs in soprano when I touch her 

how she hikes her rear end, as though 
I'm courting her.

I love the way she plays:

how she attacks my belt as though it were a snake, 
biting it, rolling on her back, tossing it, 
attacking it with four legs.

how she twists her body, unexpectedly, to capture 
her tail.

how she pounces on the slithering black-and-white 
teaser I shake before her, how she bites it, holds it—
then lets go so she can pounce again.

how she walks under my legs when I do my calf stretch.

I love the way I hear her hit the floor, dropping from her chair on her way down stairs to see me.

I love her unconventional way to open an almost closed door: standing 
on her hind legs and striking the door with her front paws.

I love it when she kneads my belly.

Oh, what a splendid cat!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Those Military Men

Bored, I climbed into Facebook's messenger and rubbernecked. Spotted three military men and decided to ask them if they thought Alex Nicholas had scammed me.

I told Major Thomas Jones from Texas, currently deployed to Syria for an undercover mission, that I thought I'd encountered a scammer..

"What makes you think he is a scam?" the major wondered.

"He left me when I wouldn't loan him money for a plane ticket."

""Oh my dear," the major protested, "you could have helped him out."

I demurred. "If I did, he wouldn't pay it back. You think otherwise?"

"My dear friend, it's not a scam. He would pay back. We encounter the same situation over here in Syria where some families pay for their loved ones so that they can leave on time."

"Goodness," I thought. "Maybe Alex's desire was real. Maybe I should have given him that money." I typed out: "My dear Alex, Major Jones told me that families loan loved ones money for travel to the US. I didn't understand that. Now I do, so if you still need to borrow the $2,550 ticket money, tell me how to forward it to you."

Of course, I didn't send my note. I just left it open in the computer so I could think about it.

Then I spotted a General John Adam from LA working under the United Nations in Syria. We discussed Alex asking for $500 to fix the internet in the camp outside of Damascus.

"Well, he must have been a scammer," the general said. "I'm in the same kind of camp in Syria as he is, and those internets? They're only fixed by the government."

Goodness! Quite a shift from Major Jones.

The last military man was General Mark Welsh Albert from US, chief of Armed Force under UN, in peace keeping mission in Afghanistan. I told him about the funds Alex had deposited in Finance Storage and Security Company. "He asked me to help him receive his package," I said. "Is that legit? Or some kind of a scam?

To my amazement, the general said, "We'll help him. I'll connect you to the United Nation Barrister who can stand for you so you won't fall victim."

"But won't I have to pay the judge?" I asked.

"Normally he gets $50,000 per case," the general said, "but I've known the barrister for 20 years so you won't need to pay him. I'll tell him that you're my cousin." 

"But is the money legal?"

"Oh, it is legal, my dear, but it takes a lot of risk to deliver. You need the Barrister to be a middle man between you and the company because if this box comes without you having a good judge, you can go to jail for money laundry."

And General Albert did connect me with the Barrister, a man unknown on the Internet, I would find out. The Barrister only spoke to me through a new Gmail the general helped me set up.

Before I gave Alex's name and address to the Barrister, I remembered the note I'd typed. Quickly I sent it so Alex would know me as friendly.

First I heard from Alex, a formal note thanking me for my trust, describing Judge Murphy as "a man with dignity and honor" and telling me to send the $2,550 to an address the Barrister would give me.

Then I heard from the judge himself who told me the box containing money worth $4,500,000.00 would be delivered to me. To receive the box, I must pay the security company for storage, curiously enough an amount of $2,550. "Send it to this Chase bank in California," he told me.

When I sent no money and stopped replying to frantic notes warning me not to make the Barrister look foolish, I realized the General was also the Barrister. I dubbed him the Wizard of Oz because of his two faces.

"Did you lose money?" my lawyer asked. When I said, "No," he chuckled. "The only thing you need to do is stay away from them."

So maybe it is time to heed Kira, my friend, who recommends exploring the local scene. "I suggest," she says, "volunteering for something literary, or getting out on the coffee house scene, the poetry slams. Fine Lines? Nebraska Authors Guild?  Surely you could find someway to be useful and out of the house."

Hmm. Might be worth a try.

I've pretty much exhausted Facebook's messenger.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Outwitting My Scammer

I returned to my scammer, Alex Nicholas, hoping to out scam him.

When Alex asked where I'd been, I said: "You planned to scam me."

"Hahahahahaha. Is that what you think??? Lol You just called me a scammer?"

We fought the rest of that day. About loyalty, respect, eternal happiness, faith, romance, advice, distance. Alex loved to wax eloquent, to overwhelm me with hifalutin words.

Finally I butted in: "Oh, Alex, so you're a scammer. It could be worse. You could be a dentist."

He didn't find this funny. "You don't love me at all."

Then I pulled Scam #1: I redefined the term. "Scamming is just an activity people do to make money. You can dislike scamming but love the person who does it."

He perked up. "Who is the scammer now?"

"The scammer is the person who is scamming." That settled him down.

Then I wrote Scam #2, to beg Alex's pardon. "Please forgive me, Alex. Instead of turning to you as I should have, I pushed the panic button. Once I'd pushed it, I couldn't calm myself down. And look what I did, I just got you all agitated, too. I'm so sorry."

We stopped fighting and signed off for the night.

The next morning, Alex hopped right to it. He wanted $2,550 ticket money to fly to the USA so we could meet face to face. "I'm really stuck for cash," he said. "I have no family but a young daughter. The UN won't let me use money or credit card in Syria for security reasons." He also lacked access to his USA bank account. "So what," he wondered, "do we do now to get me home?"

The royal "we."

"Well," I countered, "suppose you can't borrow $2,550, what will you do?"

"Staying in Syria is too dangerous, but if God wants it to be, I'll stay here and die. But if you really love your man, you'll follow your heart."

"I will, Alex, I will. But first I have to run an errand. Talk to you later."

A bank errand, Alex thought. By the next morning, he waxed eloquent, his technique for rewarding his victim. "Good morning sweet Love," he wrote. "You have you been on my mind and thoughts all day and night. What a wonderful ending of a year! Finding you, chatting online, confessing my love, and it happens all over again that I am in love with you. The feelings that I felt for you resurface. Only this time, I am free to act on them Thank you, My Love. What more can a man say to the woman who opened her heart to him, allowing him to feel the warmth of her love across the great distance that separates them? You have no idea what I feel for you.I try to put this feeling into words, but fail miserably. This feeling of being both scared and at peace, of having both butterflies and a sense of calm, is a feeling that I have only dreamed about. As the days pass, my love for you continues to grow. I never thought I had the capacity to love anybody as much as I love you right now. Yet, my love for you continues to mature, growing beyond the realm of my heart. It seems that you have become the fiber of my soul, the very reason for my existence."

I read it but thought, "Fiber of his soul, indeed. If I loaned Alex $2,550, he would take it and—with no regret— never contact me again." The hutzpah.

Then I launched Scam #3. It read:

"Let me tell you what I did, Alex. I went to my bank and talked to my personal banker, Chuck Lawrence, and told him your situation, you know, hired by UN, in Syria near Damascus, and now time to go back to the US. "But he can't" I said, "unless he can get ahold of $2,550. To borrow it, I mean. If I had the money, I'd loan it to him," I said. And Chuck agreed that I didn't have that kind of money. "Then I told Chuck that you said your USA bank account is loaded. And I asked him if he could loan you $2,550 and use a portion of your bank account as, I think the term is "collateral." "I don't see why not," he said. So I gave him your email address. And he's going to contact you, get the information he needs to activate the loan. Isn't that fantastic, Alex!"

Alex didn't find it nearly as fantastic as I did. "Baby you can't just go to your bank and enquire for my bank account with out letting me know. Baby he can't get into my bank account I don't know him. Come on baby you can't tell people what you gonna use the money for. Baby use your name to take the loan. I'll pay you back when I come home."

Then my computer crashed. I was off line for eight days.

Alex seemed happy when I returned."I miss you my beautiful sexy queen," he wrote, "I am talking about my flight ticket money."

"What about it?" I asked.

"Baby, I thought we already discussed about it or you change your mind?"

I considered: "The last we discussed was Mr. Chuck in the bank. You didn't want it."

"Baby do you really want to help me?"

Yes." Here I introduced Scam #4, my final scam. "I found another way you could get money. It's called 'Go Fund Me.' Have you ever heard of it?"

"How can I get the money?"

"It's a Facebook deal," I told him. "You put your story up on 'Go Fund Me' and people fund you."

"Lol, you are funny."

"You think I'm not serious?"

Alex seemed indignant. "You want me to start begging on Facebook? If you won't borrow money for my flight ticket that means you don't want me home."

"I cannot borrow money for you. That doesn't mean that I don't want you home."

Alex put his foot down. "Woman who loves her man will try her best to get her man home no matter what."

"I've done my best. Chuck in the bank and now Go Fund Me."

"You are very funny."


"You don't want to help and you are not serious. You are playing with me, Babe."

"So? Tit for tat."

"Maybe I stop talking to you, Babe, because you are not ready or serious.

"Of course I'm ready and serious. At least as much as you are, darling."

Then Alex went off on a strange tangent: "Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Alex paused and wrote: "You are not my type of woman. I want a woman who is love, who will do anything for Love."

"Ok sweetheart."

"You don't really want to help me."

"Want" is the wrong word…I can't ."

"Ok bye." Alex wrote.

He quit, but I didn't lose. For one thing, I knew he wouldn't come back.

For another, I believed I could crawl back in his good graces pretending to by loan him $2,550. He was wired to money. He could tell me what I have to do to wire the money to him. And I could pretend to do it. Watch him lose all over again. But that would keep Alex talking only a few days.

Why bother? I'd already won. I met Alex in mid-November. and had occupied him day after day for two months, time that he couldn't spend scamming someone else.

Plus what fun it had been to watch my scammer react to my imagined visit to Chuck the banker and protest my explanations of "Go Fund Me."

Scamming Alex had been worth it, an entertaining way not to lose $2,550.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Dear Reader

I love to hear from you, and frequently receive responses to this blog or that.  But when I published "There's No Fool Like…" emails crashed in. Curiously, no two sounded alike.

Here's a sample.

Reader #1
As Gilbreth and Carey wrote somewhere in "Cheaper by the Dozen," "Time wounds all heals." 

Reader #2
Oh my, Marilyn. This is very peculiar and sad. Your title says it all. Thanks for sharing. I suggest you start circulating in our own area and hook up with a real person. You appear to need a sexual companion. Other than that, how about volunteering and connecting with people on a different level?

Reader #3
Great story! Seems like there's a thread of experience running thru it ...

Reader #4s
He was a scammer first but he probably did have the hots for you!
I always wondered why I got friend requests from military guys.  I actually did accept one friend request but never heard from him again.  After that, I deleted their requests but I didn't know they were scammers - till now - so thanks

Reader #5.
This is excellent! I love your writing.

Reader #6
Oh, Marilyn. I'm sorry to hear about your experience. Some of these guys are so slick that nothing sticks to them, not even peanut butter! The bastards are cunning and know how to say things that reel you in.

Reader #7
How fun, Marilyn. Thanks for sharing. You have the reader in your palm. J

Reader #8
Sorry, Marilyn. I know there are some A*&^%les out there. It is just a shame that they want to pick on the elderly. We had a local Rush Co. women that got scammed for $10k money a year or so ago.
What ever.
FYI, I'm only 79 so watch out  ??/??? But I'd be after your bod not your Money. 😊

Reader #9
Dear Marilyn,
That is nothing less than sadism you've been subjected too.
It's a cruel and disturbing example of the "hope springs eternal" scam but there is a compliment implicit too. You have, as do I, a strong survival of
innocence alongside all your life experience, wisdom too.
People who scam think it's just about gain but subconsciously they know 
it's really a search for something they lost long ago.
The money, trust and confidences they pursue are only symbols for something never to be regained.

Reader #10
Love this!

Reader #11
Damn sad you got caught.  You still do not seem a fool in most ways, just here perhaps!!!  Do not beat yourself up when down.  Hope you are ok now. 

Reader #12
Wow – I could have written that story.  It happened to me almost the same way about three years ago.  I was just as skeptical as you.  He had sent me pictures of himself, which I doubted were really him.  So he talked about going for a bike ride that morning and I asked him to send me a picture of him on his bike – which appeared in my email an hour later.  Ok, so maybe he's for real.  The emails were fun, informative, intimate and I, too, felt like I was in love.  He talked about when he would be leaving South Africa (soon) and how he was wealthy (he claimed to be an engineer from New Jersey working on a new shopping mall) and wanted to pamper and take care of me and build us a big house together, to which I told him I didn't want or need any of that.  But inside I loved the thought of being pampered.  And then…the money thing.  Shit!  I cut him off.  But my heart broke.

Reader #13
Now,  that should be submitted to the AARP Magazine!  They keep Writing about scams; but you came from the personal side. Did I tell you that one 12 year old granddaughter through computer almost got caught in a trafficking scam?  We caught it just in time; they were going to meet. He was going to pick her up.

Reader #14
HI Marilyn,
I'm glad you came to your senses! It's really easy to get bamboozled, esp. if you're older and lonely. That's why those guys try to prey on us oldsters. I'm glad you didn't give him any more information that you did.

Reader #15
Dear Old Fool,
I am so sorry to hear of your grief.  I would love to give you comfort and warmth.  Maybe we could meet somewhere very public [worried about your safety] and we could talk in depth.  Since I am presently in Sacramento, I would just need plane fare to fly to Omaha [plus I suppose a hotel room which we of course could make good use of].  Why don't you wire me  $2000 and we can make this happen.  I am so anxious to help you get over your recent scam experience .....


your admiring Army buddy from FaceBook,
your admiring GI Joe

Monday, January 15, 2018

There’s No Fool Like…

I met Alex, of course, on Facebook's messenger. Scammers run rampant there. They're easy to spot. "Hello dear," these military guys type.

True, Alex called me "Honey" and like the others, bombarded me with questions. But not the standard "Are you married with kids?" Instead, he asked: "What's your favorite color?" or "What kind of music do you like?" He seemed to like me.

To protect myself, I routinely said, "No," to dozens of scammer requests for my phone number, for my email address, for moving to a hangout on Gmail, but Alex never asked. He was too busy describing how he worked for the United Nations, in Syria in a camp outside of Damascus fighting "the rebels" i.e. ISIS. "Honey, the fighting's bad," he typed.

But eventually he wrote, "It's too dangerous for me to stay on Facebook. However, the UN okays a move to a hangout on Gmail. How about it?" And I moved with Alexander Nicholas to his <>.

Why not? I knew he was no scammer; we even joked about it. Besides, I could spot a scam: unexpected money discovered and hidden for safety reasons, money that I'd help him find with my money.

Over the hours, we talked about love. Alex told me how beautiful I was (i.e. my Facebook picture), how he was falling for me. Soon we exchanged emoji kisses, then described what we'd do to each other if we were stark naked. I laughed a lot.

However, eventually Alex wrote: "When I was in Iraq we discovered some funds on routine foot patrol, Baghdad Iraq at company's compound, the total money which was found not declared. I cannot keep my share of the money in Iraq for security reasons, I moved the funds, and deposited the box containing the money in disguise for safe keeping in one Finance Storage and Security Company and nobody knows about this without any trace."

Next he wrote, "Honey, I want you to help me receive my package thru a diplomatic agent."

Damn! Just an ordinary scammer. Pleas for money would certainly follow.

Furious, I cried, "The swindler!" and pulled the plug on our Gmail hangout.

Then I stood before the computer shouting, "Oh you dog, you snake, you toad, you worm! You slimeball! You creep! You bastard."

I turned away. He wasn't just a bastard, no, Alex with his honey this, honey that was a first-class heartbreaker.

Indeed, I had to admit, "There is no fool like an eighty-year-old woman who believes that a fifty-five-year-old man has the hots for her."  

After that, I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

My Favorite Christmas Story

Before I knew it, Christmas season was upon me, and as usual, Dad annoyed me. Whenever I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he would grin and burst into song: "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth," 1946's favorite tune. 
Dad was the worst person to give a present to. Whenever he wanted anything, he just went to the store and bought it instead of giving us a big hint and waiting. That's why he ended up with such a huge tie collection.
After I heard about those two front teeth a dozen times, I asked Mama to help me. She took me downtown to the dentist's office, and we talked the dentist out of two real front teeth. I wrapped them up in pretty paper and put them under the tree with Dad's name on it.


The sun wasn't even up when my sister Margery woke the folks. They came grumbling out of their bed, pulling on bathrobes. Dad went downstairs and flipped on the Christmas tree bulbs showering light all over the piles of presents on the floor.
Daddy's hair was all tousled, but he was grinning. "Now you each get to pick one present to unwrap while your mother turns on the coffeepot." Soon all of sat on the floor, pulling out presents and looking at name tags. I kept looking for the little package, green paper with pine cones on it, the package with the two front teeth in it, but I didn't see it for a long time. So small, it just slipped down between the other packages.
When I did find it, I grabbed it and gave it to Dad. "This one's for you."
I watched the perplexed look on his face when he saw the teeth. He whooped. Sang "All I Want for Christmas" and whooped again. Later, when we both were standing, he gave me a hug. I watched him put those teeth in his pocket with his silver dollar. 

Thirty years later, standing in the mortuary after Dad died, Mama called, "Here. You might want these."
I turned. In the palm of her hand lay Dad's "two front teeth."
"He still had them?" I picked them up, marveled at them, and stuffed them in my pocket.
Mama nodded. "That's where he kept them, in his pocket with his favorite silver dollar."