I’m hard at working–if you call what I do working–when my office phone rings.
Not wanting to interrupt the precious flow of words, I let the call go to the phone machine.
Thus, I hear the following message…
“This call is officially a final notice from IRS. Internal Revenue Services. The reason of this call is to inform you that IRS is filing lawsuit against you. To get more information about this case file, please call immediately. Our department number 314-449-9358. I repeat–314-449-9358. Thank you.”
And with that my creative juices come to a screeching halt.
I re-play the message several times.
It’s a female voice. Or a computer-generated voice disguised as a female.
There’s something foreign about the syntax of the message. As though English were not the native tongue of whoever wrote the script.
For instance, they didn’t say, “The IRS is filing a lawsuit against you.”
They say: “IRS is filing lawsuit against you.”
I feel like I’m putting together the pieces of a puzzle that spell–scam!
Just call me Noam Chomsky–linguistic detective.
Looking for guidance, I call the wisest person I know–my 80-something-year-old mother.
“You got a call from the IRS?” she exclaims.
“No. I got a call from someone claiming to be the IRS.”
Too late! She’s bellowing the news to my father, who’s in another room.
“Benny got a call from the IRS.”
“No, ma,” I say. “I didn’t say it was the IRS…”
“What?” says my father.
“I said–Benny got a call from the IRS!”
“Tell him to pay his taxes…”
Ha, ha, ha. A regular Jack Benny, my father is.
“Don’t call them back,” my mother tells me.
“I won’t,” I say.
“And don’t give them your social security number,” she says.
“Ma–how can I give them my social security number, if I don’t call them back?”
“Don’t get fresh to your mother.”
After I hang up, I’m hit with a bolt of inspiration.
I google the phone number–314-449-9358. I wind up in chat room where I discover I’m not alone.
Lots of people have been getting these calls. Clearly, someone somewhere–probably eastern Europe–is up to no good.
One person on the chat room writes…
“If you want more information, click on this story.”
I click on the link and wind up facing a warning that says…
“We are not responsible for the contents, safety and privacy policies of third party websites. Use caution when you share personal information…”
Oh, no. I fell for the oldest trick in the book. While looking into one computer scam, I got snared in another.
Quickly, I call my mother with the update.
“Whatever you do–don’t give them your social security number,” she says.
Truer words were never spoken.
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As Labor Day approaches, I am realizing how little time I have left to get myself back into reality. I’ve spent my summer working during the week, drinking rose at night, and spending my weekends doing a number of absurdly fun things. But school starts in a week and so the rose drinking and absurdly fun weekends are about to get flushed down the toilet.
In addition to my attempts at ignoring reality for parts of the summer, I also ignored the textbook I should’ve been reading. Whenever someone asked me, “Do you have to go to any classes this summer?” I would respond confidently with, “No, I just have to read a textbook and write a paper, it shouldn’t be too bad.” You know what? that reading of the textbook and writing of the paper wasn’t bad at all.
Because I have yet to do it.
I’ve brought it on every weekend trip, telling myself I’ll read some of it in my downtime instead of drinking or swiping left on tinder. I’ve brought it to work everyday, telling myself I’ll read a bunch of it while the boys I nanny take a nap instead of also napping or binge watching criminal minds.
Ah, the things I can convince myself of….
Here I am now, telling myself I’m going to go home and read it every night this week and this weekend instead of making dinner and then melting into the couch. I’ll let you all take bets on how that is going to go…
The silver lining in that procrastination scheme is that I’ve actually started making real food again. I even made a quiche last night so I can have it for breakfast this week, and I brought the leftovers from dinner last night today for lunch. It’s always nice to know what you’re eating that day when your day begins instead of deciding to play “GrubHub Roulette” at about 1pm when you’re already crashing and would eat an ice cream cake if it would be delivered in less than 30 minutes.
So, I’m yet again swinging between productivity and procrastination, wondering when I’ll stop wondering when a good time to nap is.
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I still haven’t recovered from my recent vacation. It was a nine-day road trip to several of Minnesota’s garden spots and it nearly ruined my health. My back is still sore from all the driving. My liver is acting up from all the drinking. And my lungs are shot from breathing all that clean air.
The only reason I mention these things is to explain to The Third City’s loyal readers why I wasn’t able to come up with a new blog post this week. I’ve been so busy recuperating that I haven’t had time to do any writing.
That said, I’m contractually obligated to post a blog every Monday. So, I’ve had to resort to the drunken newspaperman’s trick of posting letters from readers, adding snappy replies, and calling it a column.
Fortunately, our readers are an elite group. Most of them are movers and shakers, wheelers and dealers, high rollers, big spenders, honchos and top dogs. An unusually large number of long-legged, busty babes are also fans of the blog.
Here, then, are a few letters from our distinguished readers.
Hey, Milo, did you hear about all those dumbasses who registered at the Ashley Madison website for cheating spouses? The site got hacked and now a lot of poor bastards are going to be in serious trouble. This is going to be a bonanza for divorce lawyers.
I’ve got no sympathy for those dumb fucks. What kind of guy goes to a website to cheat on his wife? Where’s the initiative? Where’s the sense of adventure? Where the manliness? When I cheat on my wife, I do it the old-fashioned way, by picking up chicks in sleazy bars, hitting on some of my wife’s slutty girlfriends or keeping a mistress. The day I have to resort to a website to get laid is the day I’ll become a faithful husband.
Dude, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and I’ve come to the conclusion that you are full of shit.
Hello to you, my dearest Milo. I am presently being Professor Larsen E. M’Bogo, President of the Greater Nigerian Literary Society. It is my sincere pleasure to be informing you that your ebook, WASSERMANN GARDENS, which is wildly very popular in my country and currently the #1 selling book in Lagos, has been awarded the Goodluck Jonathan Award for Excellence in Literature Endeavors. This much esteemed award comes with a very large plaque and a check for $200,000 dollars in American money. Due to international banking regulations, we will need a check from you for the amounting of 750 American dollars to process your prize of cash. Once we receive your check, the money will be deposited in your choice of banks. Congratulations to you and have a day of niceness.
Man, this is the best news I’ve heard in months. It might be a few weeks before I can come up with the 750 bucks. I might have to borrow it from my sister. But as soon as I get my hands on the dough, I’ll send you a check.
Hey, Milo! You and all those other military veterans are some seriously lucky bastards. While all the rest of us have to struggle to pay for health insurance, you guys get it for free, just because you spent a couple of years in the service. That doesn’t seem fair.
Actually, veterans do pay a price for health care. And it is dear. They risk their lives, limbs and sanity, in some of the most dangerous shitholes on earth, in the service of their country. If you ask any veteran, I’m sure he or she would say, “It would probably have been easier just to send Blue Cross a check every month.”
Bro, have you gotten rid of that rotten cat yet? I finally got rid of the miserable fuzzball that’s made my life a living hell for all these years. Of course, when my wife found out, she immediately started divorce proceedings. But, everything considered, it’s a pretty good tradeoff. Let me know if you need any help disposing of your cat. I’ve got some excellent ideas.
I appreciate the offer, but I’ve already figured how to settle the cat’s hash. I’m in negotiations to sell Otis, the rotten bastard of an alley cat who bamboozled his way into my household, to my dear friend, Mr. Choi, who owns a popular homestyle Korean restaurant on Ashland Avenue. He assures me that he’ll take real good care of the cat.
Letter #6 (via cellphone email):
Milo! Will you quit screwing around with that stupid blog and give me a hand. I need some help with the yard work. We have to re-pot plants, dig up some weeds and spread some manure. You’ve been down in the basement sitting in front of the computer all morning. I can hear you muttering and cursing down there. I know for a fact that you’ve been drinking. And you’re probably sneaking out to the garage to smoke reefer. I need your help now. I mean it!
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I’m writing this at four in the morning.
I’m up at four cause I can’t sleep.
I can’t sleep cause I just saw The Gift, which may be the scariest movie I’ve seen since Candyman.
I tend to stay away from scary movies on account of the fact that I’m a scaredy cat, who doesn’t like to be up at four o’clock in the morning.
In The Gift, Jason Bateman and Rebecca Hall play Simon and Robyn, a happily married pair of yuppies, who move into this spacious house in the hills of Los Angeles.
Then they started getting visits from Gordo, this creepy dude who went to high school with Simon.
I don’t want to give too much away, but some really weird shit starts to happen after Gordo shows up.
Like the dog temporarily disappears.
It’s a big, lovable St. Bernard called Mr. Bojangles. As in the song.
The scene where Mr. Bojangles returns gave me a jolt that caused me to jump out of my seat and grab my wife’s arm.
I did a lot of that during the movie. Especially in the shower scene.
Oh, man, everyone in the audience jumped out of their seats with that scene. Though, as far as I could tell, only I grabbed my wife’s arm.
After Mr. Bojangles returns, Robyn looks him in the eyes and says, “Where have you been?”
And Mr. Bojangles keeps looking at her with his big, round, horror-filled eyes, like he can’t answer her question cause what he saw was too evil to describe.
As opposed to he can’t answer her question cause dogs can’t talk.
There’s this other scene where Robyn’s walking down the corridor of her house at night. And it’s a really long corridor and a very dark night. And I’m like–don’t walk down that corridor, Robyn!
But she doesn’t listen to me.
They never do.
I had a similar experience the other night, by the way.
It was after midnight and I was reading The Poet, the Michael Connelly novel about a serial killer who prowls on homicide detectives.
You’ve got to be a really badass serial killer to go after homicide detectives.
I had to go to the basement to switch the laundry.
As I started down the long, winding stairs, I thought…
Don’t do it, Benny. Don’t descend into the darkness.
Needless to say, I emerged in one piece.
What happens to the characters in The Gift, I won’t tell you.
See it yourself.
Good luck sleeping.
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I consider myself to be a pretty tough guy. I mean, I’m not wrestling gators for fun or any shit like that but I think I can hold my own. I like to consider myself a man’s man; I do my work, accept full responsibility for the good and the bad things that I do and try not to complain much.
Having put that out there, I recently had a couple of experiences that have called my toughness into question.
The first happened about two weeks ago.
I’m walking home down Thorndale after a long day at work. I have my earbuds in and I’m jamming to something intense, completely zoned out.
Now mind you, the stretch between Broadway and Clark on Thorndale is dark as shit. There are old trees that line both sides of the street, blocking out the street lamps. So I can’t see shit.
I’m marching along past one of the larger apartment buildings when I hit the corner and run into a little white woman about half my size.
“Oh, shit,” she screams as she damn near falls to the ground, absolutely paralyzed with fear. Her fear was almost immediately replaced with embarrassment for her reaction at the unexpected sight of a big, bald brown man harmlessly walking home.
My response? I was a bit startled.
Actually, if I’m being absolutely honest with the readers of this fine and reputable website, I let out a squeal like a little school girl at a haunted house.
Well, shit…. She scared me. It was late and I was zoned out jamming to my music and mentally on another planet. I didn’t expect to bump into anyone.
You might as well try to wake me from a nightmare or trance or whatever dream-like states you’re not supposed to wake folks from.
Whatever…. I punked out at the unexpected sight of a little white woman. Who cares?
The second event happened a week later. I’m walking to work and I stop at a light where I see a couple fire rigs rolling by that belong to the town I work in.
I was curious because three of our ER boys had recently made the cut and were in training.
As I look into one of the rigs, I see one of our guys sitting to the left , which made me happy.
Those boys worked their asses off to get on the department and it brought a genuine sense of joy to see one of them living out their dream.
So naturally, and enthusiastically, I smile and wave. Only, the fire rigs are moving so fast that our guy catches a brief glimpse of me and the guy seated on the right–who I didn’t know and had caught a full glimpse of my goofy ass smiling and waving–was left to wonder why a fully grown man was smiling and waving like a five year old boy who’s dreaming of being a firefighter one day as fire trucks steamed by.
All that was missing was for me to scream out while jumping up and down: “Yeeeeeaaaahhhhh!!!!!! Fire trucks!!!!Awesome!!!!!”
Anyway…. Just two of the many of my not so proudest moments as a man’s man.
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