Money, Lies, Drapes and Nazis

March 27, 2024 at 6:03 p.m.
Sy Rosen
Sy Rosen Sy Rosen

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve changed my attitude towards money – okay I’ve become cheaper. However, I’m a spendthrift compared to my 89-year-old Aunt Emma. I don’t know if you have a relative like this, but Aunt Emma actually believes things now cost what they did in 1950. For example, a few weeks ago I was taking her to the movies. She insisted on treating as she handed the cashier a dollar bill and waited for change.
When Aunt Emma wasn’t looking, I slipped the cashier the rest of the money. I didn’t have the heart to tell Emma that these days you have to take out a bank loan to go to the movies.

As Aunt Emma got older her eyesight worsened and this once tireless cleaner (you could see your reflection in her carpet) now couldn’t spot all the dust in her apartment. Her drapes were getting very dirty and I told her I could get them dry-cleaned. She insisted on paying for it. I knew it would cost about $90 but lied and said there was a special for $10. She thought the price was a little high but allowed me to take them to the cleaners.

I was very proud of myself when I returned to her apartment about a week later with the drapes. However, waiting for me in the lobby was my Aunt Emma and seven of her friends. All of her friends were holding drapes. Aunt Emma had told them about the $10 special and they wanted in!

The cheapness part of my brain immediately panicked. My good deed could cost me an additional $560. I had no choice. I had to lie again.

“I’m sorry,” I said, “but the dry cleaners burned down.” It was a pretty good lie except for the fact that I was holding Emma’s drapes in my arms.

“How’d did you get the drapes out?” asked Carl, a retired accountant who suddenly took on the tone of a federal prosecutor.

“Oh,” I said, “I uh, I got the drapes a couple of days ago and have been keeping them at my house.”

Carl then sniffed Aunt Emma’s drapes. “They smell smoky,” he said. The others sniffed and agreed.

I explained they couldn’t smell smoky because the fire didn’t start until today and I already had the drapes.

Carl retorted, “It was probably a slow burning fire and started days ago.” He then turned to Aunt Emma and said, “You should sue.”

“She, she, can’t sue,” I stammered.

“Why not?” pressed Carl. I felt like he was shining a bright light in my face.

“Because, because, the dry cleaners set the fire for the insurance and skipped the country. The police found a partially burnt ticket stub to Bolivia.”

“Bolivia?! That’s where a lot of old Nazis are hiding,” Carl quickly said.

“That’s right,” I agreed. “They think the dry cleaners are hiding out with the Nazis.” Whenever you’re telling an outrageous lie it’s good to include Nazis.

They all nodded and took their drapes back to their apartments. The crisis was over. Except I noticed that Emma was looking at me very oddly.

During my next weekly visit, she confronted me... “That Nazi story wasn’t true, was it? Everybody knows the Nazis are in Panama.”

I was cornered and had to explain, “I, uh, was undercharging you for the drapes. I thought you might feel bad if I told you.”

“How much did it really cost?” she asked.

“$12,” I replied, lying one last time.

She stared at me for a minute and then said, “You’re a good boy. You got cheated but you’re a good boy. Now let’s go to lunch.”

She then happily put 50 cents in her purse as she said, “And it’s my treat.” 
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