My wife and I don’t allow ourselves to get concerned about the aging process. Why bother? You can’t do anything to stop it. The changes that go along with it are inevitable. Some of the things you can fix, thanks to the wonders of pharmaceutical science. Others you can’t fix, but there are wonderful products out there to help you deal with them. Depends fits in that category. Then, there are others where you’re completely on your own.
My wife’s experience last Monday morning fits in the third category. We’d pulled our monthly stint on the work crew for a charity bingo the night before. My job on the crew is to handle the money. I don’t know why they chose me for such a trusted assignment. It’s probably because I usually do a half decent job with the paperwork. Charity bingos are tightly regulated by the State of Louisiana, and for this reason the level of documentation is comparable to that required to operate a hazardous waste facility. They say that this is needed to prevent fraud—an activity that in our state is reserved strictly for elected officials.
Unfortunately, I was not on my game that evening. After completing the paperwork, the final numbers indicated that I was about $30 short. That, I feared, might be enough to earn me an extended stay at Angola State Prison. It was a thought I didn’t relish. Sure, I hear that the other guests there have a reputation for being neighborly, but I can’t envision them bringing me home-baked cookies when I move in.
I had to leave for a business trip early Monday morning, and so I entrusted my wife to drop off the bag of cash and the paperwork to Ross, the bingo coordinator. Hopefully, he had a trick or two up his sleeve. After all, you don’t get to be bingo coordinator for nothing. So, off I went across the state line, leaving the bulging sack of proceeds from the lucrative evening on the kitchen counter.
That evening, my wife texted me, asking if I had dropped off the money after all. I replied that I had not, and her smiling photo promptly displayed itself on my caller ID. From her tone, I knew that this was not a Kodak moment.
We had a mystery on our hands, and, alas, it wasn’t the first in our 27 years of marriage. No one had been in the house that day, and there was no sign that anyone had entered. “Perhaps you moved it somewhere,” I said. “Maybe you should check where you mislaid your keys.”
“But I found my keys, and the money wasn’t there!” she managed to say, in between her gasps for air.
The only thing that we could figure is that she may have left it on the seat of the convertible that morning while running errands. Abe Lincoln would probably find it hard to resist a bank bag full of cash sitting on the front seat of an open ragtop. My shortfall suddenly had a couple of zeroes added to the end of it, and I began to think it my best option would be to linger a while across the state line.
I called Ross the next morning to deliver the bad news. “There’s a bit of an issue with the bingo money,” I said.
“I know,” Ross said. “You were $30 short, but we can deal with that.”
“You got the money, then.”
“Yes, your wife dropped it off to me yesterday. What did you think?”
“Oh, nothing,” I answered after a pause that was not sufficiently brief to hide my anxiety. “You have a nice day.”
So for now, I’m still a free man. But as for the future—well, I just hope the prison has a geriatric ward.