'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
JEWELRY SHOPPER IS OUT OF HIS LEAGUE
Last year a won a $50 jewelry store gift certificate by being the fourth caller to a radio station and correctly answering a trivia question. Certain people, who shall remain nameless, thought it was foolish of me to spend countless hours memorizing the batting statistics of the entire starting lineup of the 1967 pennant-winning Red Sox team. But I knew that one day having crucial knowledge on the tip of my brain, such as Rico Petrocelli’s on-base percentage, finally would pay off. Certain people also thought it was foolish of me to have a radio station’s phone number programmed into my speed-dial list. Ha! Who’s laughing now?
So I took my newly won $50 gift certificate (thank you, Rico, and thank you, speed-dial) and I visited the upscale jewelry store located in an upscale Hartford suburb. My plan was to pick out something nice for the skeptical certain person who considered me foolish in the first place. I figured if I found something that cost $50, then I would get it for free, or if the nice item cost, say, $90, I would only have to spend 40 bucks of my own money. Either way I would win major brownie points with the certain skeptical, lovely someone who shall remain nameless.
I slowly walked through the store, inspecting the various items in the many display cases. Now, I’m the first one to admit that I know very little about jewelry. I do know that diamonds and gold are good, while cubic zirconium and copper pretending to be gold are not so good, especially when your finger turns green. And although I usually cannot tell whether a particular piece of jewelry is fashionable or not, I trust my gut instinct that it’s not very attractive when a rap singer wears what appears to be a gold-plated license plate and a boat anchor chain around his neck. But that just could be me. Maybe middle-aged suburbanites like that look nowadays.
As I inspected the merchandise, I paused in front of one display case that had an assortment of small earrings. I figured these would be more in my price range, but I noticed there were no price tags on anything. Finally, a store employee came over and asked, “Can I help you, sir?” (Oddly, he said that without ever moving his mouth. The sentence emanated entirely from his nostrils. Weird.)
“Yeah,” I said, “how much do those little red thingees cost?”
He replied, “I believe they are…six.”
“Six bucks? Nice. I can get a bunch of them,” I exclaimed.
“No no, silly. Six hundred,” his nostrils said.
“Six HUNDRED?! Really? Whoa. Well, do you have anything in the store for less than a hundred bucks?”
He looked at me as if I had asked if it was OK to spit into his shirt pocket. His nostrils flared, then fluttered, but couldn’t bring themselves to utter anything except a distressed whining sound. Finally, he turned and hurried into the back room and never re-appeared. In recalling his tale of woe to fellow employees, I suspect the phrase “boorish barbarian” was used.
It turned out my $50 gift certificate was not such a wonderful prize after all. In order to save 50 bucks I had to spend hundreds. I left the certificate on the display case and went home to start memorizing statistics about the 1969 Mets. But I’ll only use this information when the prize is something the lovely certain someone and I can really enjoy, like tickets to a monster truck rally.
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