Friday, February 19, 2010

"Sorry, Wrong Numbers"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

I know you don’t know this because you aren’t clairvoyant, otherwise you would have won the lottery by now, but I recently failed to win the lottery even though my numbers were picked by a clairvoyant.

I was surprised and disappointed when I didn’t win $105 million in the Mega Millions drawing after playing my “personal lucky lottery numbers,” which were given to me by Maria Duval, who was described in a magazine ad as “the famous clairvoyant and medium.”

In her photo, she looked to be a medium, about size 8, but at least she wasn’t billing herself as Claire Voyant.

Anyway, next to the impressive background information on Maria, “holder of the highest honorary awards and degrees, more than 30 years of accurate and verifiable predictions,” was a form I had to fill out.

“Choose your 7 wishes NOW!” it urged.

Among the 33 choices, I checked off “Win enough money to never have to work again.” I don’t do much work now, but I figured it would be nice to do nothing in luxury.

I also checked off “Be the friend of wealthy people.” I could imagine being in the same social circles as moneybags like Donald Trump. Then The Donald could introduce me to his rich friends as The Jerry.

But the one that really appealed to me was “Win the lottery jackpot within two weeks.” Because I took a vow of poverty when I went into journalism, I wanted to strike it rich as soon as possible, so I filled out the form, which promised that the wishes I “cherished most” would be granted “FREE OF CHARGE,” and mailed it to Maria.

She responded immediately with a letter that contained not only my winning lottery numbers, but the promise that the following Tuesday “will mark a very positive turning point in your life.” Best of all, it was signed, “Your devoted friend, Maria Duval.”

The following Tuesday was cloudy. I ran some errands in the morning and went to work. Nothing happened. When I returned home, I had meatloaf for dinner. Afterward I watched TV, but there wasn’t much on, so I went to bed. It was one of the dullest days of my life.

But I wasn’t discouraged because I still had my “personal lucky lottery numbers” to play.

I went to Early’s Market & Deli and told owner Bob Mourlatos that he was looking at the next Mega Millions winner.

“Congratulations,” Bob said. “But how can you be so sure?”

“My numbers were picked by Maria Duval,” I explained.

“Who’s she?” Bob asked.

“The famous clairvoyant and medium,” I responded.

“I’ve never heard of her,” Bob said.

It didn’t matter because I knew Maria would not fail me. So did Doug Bauer, a regular customer who was so sure I would win that he wanted to play my numbers, too. “That way,” Doug said, “we could split the money.”

Lawrence Riley, another customer, declined to get in on the action because, he said, “If I ever won, I’d have a heart attack.”

I gave Bob my numbers: 6, 10, 12, 13, 20, 40.

“Good luck!” he said.

I had no luck at all because Maria correctly picked only one number, 13, which is, of course, unlucky.

You don’t have to be a famous clairvoyant and medium to know that I should have seen it coming.

Copyright 2010 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, February 5, 2010

"Zezima the Geek"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

As the very model of the modern middle-age man, I can say with great certainty and no small amount of confusion that when it comes to modern technology, I am still in the Middle Ages.

In 1999, for example, I decided to get into the 20th century before it was over, so I got e-mail. Now, a decade into the 21st century, I am not much further advanced.

Recently, however, I got a new computer. I will not identify the brand except to say that it is the Apple of my eye.

The computer is fun and, even for an idiot such as myself, pretty easy to use. Still, I figured I should take advantage of the year’s worth of lessons that were included in the purchase, so I went to the computer store for an introductory session with a very nice and, of course, very knowledgeable young man named Dave.

“What’s the most important thing you need to know about your new computer?” Dave asked.

“Can it pick next week’s winning lottery numbers?” I wondered.

“Only mine can,” Dave said. “And I plan to quit next week, so it’s a good thing you came in today.”

Timing is everything, and while Dave was still working I thought I would pick his brain because, unfortunately, there isn’t much of my own to pick, especially when it comes to computers.

“I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles,” I said.

“They’d only keep you awake at night,” Dave noted.

“Unless I turned off the computer before I went to bed,” I responded.

“At least you know how to turn your computer off,” Dave said. “Some people can’t even do that.”

I felt smarter already. Then I told Dave that I needed to know how to open documents because I’m a writer.

“What do you write?” he asked.

“Stuff that has no redeeming social value,” I answered.

“You mean you’re a newspaper columnist?” Dave said.

“How did you know?”

“Lucky guess.”

When Dave mentioned compatibility issues, I said, “I don’t have compatibility issues. I’ve been married for almost 32 years.”

“You just say yes a lot,” replied Dave, who is 26 and unmarried but wise beyond his years.

“Yes,” I said.

We talked about surfing the Web.

Me: “I once took a surfing lesson, but I couldn’t even stand up on the board.”

Dave: “Now you can hang 10 while sitting down.”

We talked about menus.

Me: “Can I make dinner on my computer?”

Dave: “No, but you can store a lot of recipes.”

Dave had an answer for everything. And no wonder. He has a master’s degree in arts and liberal studies. Before becoming a computer whiz, he taught music to kindergartners.

“Technologically speaking, I’m a kindergartner,” I said.

“Yes,” Dave agreed, “but you’re not as loud.”

Then he told me about a fifth-grader who comes into the store to take lessons in Final Cut Pro. “It’s a movie editing program,” Dave explained. “He could be the next Steven Spielberg.”

“It would be all geek to me,” I said.

This time Dave didn’t say anything. He just nodded. But he did, in 50 minutes, get me up and running on my new computer. He also proved to be the most entertaining techie I have ever met.

I had such a good time that I am going to schedule another lesson soon. I just hope Dave doesn’t win the lottery by then.

Copyright 2010 by Jerry Zezima