Friday, November 25, 2011

"The Price Isn't Right"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

Get-rich-quick schemes are a dime a dozen, which means you’d have to have dozens of them to get rich.

But my wife, Sue, and I recently came up with a get-poor-quick scheme: We had a tag sale. There were plenty of tags but not many sales. To make matters worse, we actually lost money. And our garage is still full of stuff.

To run a tag sale, you need two things: stuff and Bloody Marys. We had a lot more stuff than we had Bloody Marys, but the Bloody Marys went faster than the stuff.

Joining us in this disastrous venture was our younger daughter, Lauren, who had a lot of her own stuff in our garage and brought over even more stuff from her apartment. Lauren’s husband, Guillaume, wisely spent most of the day inside, going through a baseball card collection that is probably worth more than all of our stuff combined.

Among the items we put out in the driveway and on the front lawn were: two pairs of crutches ($5 and $10), the Bubble Mate Foot Bubbler ($10), a wok ($5), a dog cage ($20), a pair of ice skates ($5), two artificial Christmas trees ($10 and $20) and a painting of two barns in a field ($15), plus lots of clothes (reasonably priced) and costume jewelry (ditto).

The sale began at 10 a.m. Sue, Lauren and I sat on chairs in the driveway with a cash box (empty) and glasses of Bloody Marys (full), ready to do a brisk business.

At 11 a.m., a guy named Marty came by. “Times must be tough if you’re having a tag sale,” he said.

“Not at all,” I replied. “I’m dependently wealthy.”

“What do you mean?” Marty asked.

“I’m depending on you to make me wealthy,” I said.

Marty left without buying anything.

“You’re driving customers away,” Sue told me.

“We’ll have to sell you,” Lauren chimed in.

“And take a loss,” Sue said.

“Who loses money at their own tag sale?” Lauren wondered.

“We do,” Sue noted.

“It’s pathetic,” said Lauren, adding, “Who wants another Bloody Mary?”

At 11:30, we made our first sale. A woman named Rosa admired the watercolor of the barns. “I painted it myself,” I said.

“Really?” Rosa chirped.

“No,” I admitted.

“Ten dollars,” she offered. It was five bucks less than the price on the tag. I drive a hard bargain, so I said, “Sold!”

A man named J.R. drove up with his children, Ana, 5, and James, 3, who wanted Lauren’s art set. I played hide-and-seek with the kids as J.R. handed Lauren $10, which she put in the cash box.

“Bye, Jerry!” the kids shouted from the car as J.R. drove away.

A woman who stopped with her adult daughter told us that she had recently been in a car accident. “If you get into another one,” I said helpfully, “we have crutches.”

No sale.

A young guy showed up to look at the jewelry. “I made it when I was in prison,” I told him.

“You did a nice job,” he said.

“I had a lot of time,” I replied.

“Prisoners generally do,” said the guy, who bought $12 worth of rings and earrings for his wife.

By 3 p.m., the official end of the sale, there was $55 in the cash box. We lugged most of the unsold stuff back into the garage and sent out for dinner, which came to $67.

“Next time we have a tag sale,” Lauren said, “we should give Bloody Marys to the customers. Maybe then we’ll make a profit.”

Copyright 2011 by Jerry Zezima

Friday, November 11, 2011

"Royal Response"

By Jerry Zezima

The Stamford Advocate

On behalf of Prince William, an heir to the throne of the House of Windsor, which is in Buckingham Palace, and myself, an heir to the throne of the House of Zezima, which is in an upstairs bathroom, I am happy to announce that the centuries-old feud between our two families is finally over.

It was all a misunderstanding, as I explained in a letter I wrote earlier this year to William and his lovely bride, Kate, who were married in England the day before my younger daughter, Lauren, and her handsome groom, Guillaume, were married in France.

The letter read, in part, as follows:

“Dear William and Kate:

“I am writing somewhat belatedly to congratulate the two of you on your nuptials and to welcome you back from your honeymoon in the Seychelles....

“You must know that the Zezimas and the Windsors have had a chilly relationship since the Revolution, when an ancestor of mine, John Quincy Zezima, a columnist for the Colonial Advocate, wrote an investigative piece exposing King George’s war plans, thus leading to the Empire’s defeat.

“The fact that my parents were not invited to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth or that my wife, Sue, and I were not on the guest list for the wedding of Charles and Diana is further proof of the chasm between our two families.

“Naturally, I was hurt when Sue and I weren’t invited to your wedding, but then I realized that you knew we would be otherwise engaged with the big event for Lauren and Guillaume. And since we knew the two of you were getting married the day before, we didn’t send you, Charles, the Queen or anyone else in your family an invitation, though I admit the courtesy would have been nice. For that, I apologize.”

I went on to describe the wonderful time we had at Lauren and Guillaume’s wedding and concluded:

Now that we are back to our normal lives, I just want to say that Sue and I wish the two of you nothing but the best. I am sure your family wishes the same for Lauren and Guillaume.

“I hope this letter helps thaw the relationship between the Zezimas and the Windsors and that someday we can all get together to exchange wedding pictures. In the meantime, keep a stiff upper lip and give our best to the Queen.”

I sent the letter to William and Kate, hoping but not really expecting to hear back. Imagine my surprise and delight when the following letter arrived in the mail recently.

“St. James’s Palace

“From: The Office of TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and HRH Prince Henry of Wales

“Private and Confidential

“25th October, 2011

“Dear Mr. Zezima,

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked me to thank you for your letter of 15th July.

“Their Royal Highnesses are grateful to you for taking the trouble to write as you did and were touched by your kind words of support.

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have asked me to send you their warmest thanks together with their belated congratulations to Lauren and Guillaume.


“Mrs. Claudia Holloway”

In case you are wondering, Mrs. Holloway, who signed the letter with a distinctive flourish in royal blue ink, is head of correspondence for the royal family, which receives about 30,000 letters a year.

I don’t know how Mrs. Holloway can still feed herself, much less sign all those letters, but I appreciate her response and the warm wishes extended by the Duke and Duchess.

Of course, we will have the letter framed and hung in a prominent place in our home, although it won’t go above the throne because, God help us, it would be kind of tacky.

Now that the Zezimas and the Windsors are back on good terms, we can’t wait until Prince Harry gets married. I’m sure an invitation will be in the mail.

Copyright 2011 by Jerry Zezima