4 Money Matters
These Stories are dedicated to:
My wife Marci and my three children Saundra, Jessica, and Jimmy – Thank you for believing in me!
And to the rest of my chosen family – may they learn to recognize the truth in all that I write!
The ˇ of Skinny & Fuzz
Given the fact that my wallet, checkbook, credit cards, penny jar, seat cushions, pocket change, lint trap, car seats, front and rear pockets, and children’s college fund are all sources of capital for most of the activities of Skinny and Fuzz, I wanted to take a minute to explain that I am not their only source of income – though, I have to admit, I am probably their largest single contributor, and for a very good reason – I love to see them in pain. Plus, I’m gullible!
If these two were politicians, the Federal Election Committee would be all over me by now, and would probably have me hanging from a tree by my ankles while they interrogate me!
In short, I think I could claim them both on my taxes every year as an entertainment expense.
My significant other, may the lord bless her for being so understanding, is constantly warning me not to give in to the two mischief-makers the way I do. “It only encourages them!” She’s fond of saying.
She’s funny that way; I guess it comes from some misguided belief that my support is voluntary, or that I really don’t want to say no! Just because I’ve been caught smiling whenever my wallet results in a trip to the emergency room, for anyone but me, she thinks I like sacrificing my children’s education to buy something Skinny or Fuzz no longer want. Shoot, if I could arrange a trip to the ER without paying anything, believe me, I would. Unfortunately, Skinny and Fuzz don’t break, so it’s usually me going to the ER, with a couple of goofball’s riding in the ambulance making consoling comments like “I told you not to put your hand in there!” or “If you’da been just a little faster, this wouldna happened,” or the best and most often repeated one of all “Admit it McCityBoy, that was fun!”
That last one came as a result of my purchasing an old trail camera Skinny had recently replaced with a new one. Now, one wouldn’t normally think of a camera as being dangerous, but there are two things trail cam’s are good for; watching for game, and watching for other hunters messing with another hunter’s trail cam. Confronting either one can lead to some serious issues. Like getting mauled by a black bear for example, or sneaking up on some hunter messing with your trail camera and getting shot for scaring heck out of him.
Skinny, during his sales pitch, said he was going to cut me a great deal and give it to me for “less than I paid for the new one. After all, since you’ve always said you wanted one, this is a lot cheaper than buying it new!”
Who could argue with that kind of reasoning?
But it’s funny; I don’t remember ever thinking such a thing, much less being stupid enough to express it, verbally, in front of the only two people I know who would instantly go to a pawn shop, buy one cheap, repackage it, and resell the dilapidated thing to me at a considerable mark-up. One just doesn’t express opinions of that nature in front of Skinny and Fuzz, not even as a joke!
But, it’s a common sales pitch from Skinny.
He’s always making it seem like whatever he’s selling is something I’ve always wanted. Fuzz, on the other hand, usually just forcibly loans me whatever it is, convinces me that it works just like he said it would, and says “you used it, so now I can’t return it!” This phrase is often followed by, “Come on, McCityBoy, pay up!”
To be blunt, both Skinny, and Fuzz are great salesmen. They make it sound like you need an air conditioner in the winter, or that the solid brass and plush lining in the newest model of casket is totally necessary for eternal comfort. Come to think of it, that does sound nice. I’ve told the family to make sure they bury me lying on my stomach, because “I’ve never been able to sleep comfortably on my back,” but Fuzz’s wife says it’s because I want my butt sticking in the air so Skinny and Fuzz can kiss it after I depart as a result of one of their schemes.” I like that explanation a lot better! But I digress.
Both Skinny and Fuzz are married, and their wives (whom I’ll name Sassy and Bean respectively) have worked with me over the years to check I didn’t pay too much. For example, Sassy told me Skinny only paid forty-five dollars, in 2010, for the trail camera.
He tried to sell it to me for forty-five-ninety-five, the bugger!
“It’s a good deal” he said, “Yes, I paid forty-five dollars for it, but I’ve made some modifications, and added new batteries and everything, so it’s worth more now than it was then!”
The “modifications” he’d made? Well they had everything to do with the method of placement, and nothing to do with reliability or aesthetics, except negatively! He’d devised a system that allows one to place the camera higher up in a tree to prevent theft. It also had a handy carrying case, several D rings, some duct tape, two pulleys, and a hundred foot rope. I noticed a split in the camera lens too, but Skinny said that allows the camera to “take pictures from multiple angles instead of one” which is a nice feature!
Anyway, to test my new trail camera, we trekked to the hidey-hole we’d scouted for our next deer hunting trip. Nope, I am still never EVER going to hunt bear with these two – did I say EVER?
Mainly because of the joke Bean told us all one night. She said “I never worry about Donny being mauled by a bear when McCityBoy goes with them. Pause. Long Pause! Donny can outrun Johnny!”
Ah, the clarity family dinners can bring!
Now, our hidey-hole is just that, a hole! A nice hole, but it’s still a hole. It’s camouflaged with scrub and branches and the like, all of which need to be replaced every year, but it also serves as a good snake pit or other animal trap.
Apparently Skinny and Fuzz took exception to my statement that “my sense of direction is impeccable” and while pointing said “that way is south!” I happen to have been right, only because my rear-view mirror has a compass, but it didn’t fool either one of them.
“Great” Fuzz said, “You can lead us to the hidey-hole!”
Uh oh! “Well fine,” I said. I have a few tricks up my sleeve too ya know. Needless to say, my GPS worked flawlessly. It provided directions to the pre-set coordinates in terms I could understand, in Rod Serlings’ voice no less.
For example, when we finally got within thirty yards of the coordinates it said “you are about to enter, the hidey-hole Zone!” That’s classic!
Might I suggest some of you in the newer generation use Google to enlighten yourselves about that reference?
Anyway, I got us there. I proved it too. Thirty feet into the trees I stumbled on a small twig, and fell into the hidey-hole! It’s usually bloody hard to get in and out of the five-foot deep hole, well, getting out is hard. Getting in is usually accomplished through the simple task of tripping on a small twig, but I managed to get out with no trouble this time. Have I mentioned that I do not like snakes? Or spiders for that matter! Or, well, you get the idea. Skinny looked in the hole and said “shoot, it’s just a blow snake!” I don’t care if it’s just a wooden stick that looks like a snake, I am outta there! Not to be outdone by Skinny’s witticism, Fuzz picked it up and said “I’ll get rid of it” right after swinging it over his head and throwing it at me.
Anyway, I was already half way up the tree so I asked Skinny to show me how the camera attachment apparatus worked. “Sure” he said, “just hold onto the camera while I throw the rope over that branch above your head.”
The rope, after a single attempt by Skinny, who used to be a calf roper on his high school rodeo team, sailed over the branch, with the other side dropping back to the ground. We’d still be there at the end of hunting season if they had left that little task to me. I was never a Boy Scout, so Skinny tied a fancy knot and pulled it tight.
“Here comes the fun part” he said. “See those little loops in the rope? All ya gotta do is put one foot in the loop, then pull on this end of the rope, and up you’ll go!”
I was skeptical, but followed instructions. Up I went!
Twenty feet up in the tree Skinny said I was high enough. “Take out the duct tape and strap it to the tree, but make sure the camera is pointing this way.”
Have you ever tried to tear duct tape with one hand while hanging from a tree branch? Might I suggest you leave that off your bucket list? Anyway, I managed to get the thing, more-or-less, attached to the tree and pointed in the right direction, when Fuzz said “Here, try this blue-tooth program on the remote control!”
What remote control? I’d never heard of a trail cam with a remote control before. He tossed it up to me. It looked like a Nintendo Game boy with fewer buttons. Skinny said “hit the power button, then let me and Fuzz walk down the trail from different directions. Then you download the pictures to the remote control and we’ll see if it’s working!”
See what I mean, there is no way I wasn’t going to pay for the all too crucial remote control option, which Fuzz said he could let me have for fifty bucks! However, the pictures turned out crystal clear. Even though the cracked lens worked perfectly, I don’t think Skinny modified it that way on purpose, given the size of the dent on the camera housing. But, typical of everything with these rascals, problems have a way of resolving themselves, to their advantage, and my expense.
Now, my next task was to get out of the tree, of which neither Skinny, nor Fuzz, had any helpful suggestions!
“That’s the fun part McCityBoy,” Skinny said, “Watching you get down!”
The next thing I knew, Fuzz was rolling on the ground and Skinny was holding his stomach and gasping for air, while I tried desperately to reverse the method of ascent by flipping around one of the pulleys, which kind of worked.
Fuzz, while suffering from an uncontrolled fit of the giggles, managed to safely cut the rope dangling me from the tree by one of my ankles, I could have sworn I’d seen a couple of Feds walk up in their blue suits carrying Federal Election Committee badges, but it was hard to tell through the stars flashing before my eye’s! They were also nice enough to drive me to the main road where I could meet the ambulance. A long snake shaped scrape on my back, a large knot on my head, bruised ribs (again), and a sprained wrist! Good thing I have insurance. Would have been nice if Life Flight had come to get me, I heard they were on standby just in case the inevitable happened, but I never lost consciousness so they begged off.
In a nutshell, that accurately describes how Skinny and Fuzz manage to fund their various projects. But I am not the only one they go after. A week ago, Skinny was trying to sell his old compound bow, which is something he can’t sell me because I’m a left handed shooter!
Woohoo, thank the Lord for small miracles!
So he went after the father of his “borrowed” kid. The young man, whom I will call “Lofty,” lives down the road and took an immediate liking to Skinny for some disconcerting reason. I call him “Lofty” because he’s mountain man huge. He stands at least six foot three or four, and carries considerable mass to match. I think if he had Fuzz’s hair he might have qualified as a Sasquatch, but I would never say that to his face, because I kind of like my arms, legs, and head right where they currently reside!
Still, it’s a lofty goal of mine to look him in the eye one day and have a proper conversation, but unless he kneels, or I get a step ladder, I don’t think that will happen any time soon.
At any rate, for whatever reason, Lofty likes Skinny. I think it has to do with all the toys Skinny has laying around. Suffice it to say, Skinny decided to take the young man under his wing, and Sassy really treats him like a son. Thus, Skinny works with him, and teaches him things. Like how to sell stuff.
Skinny, sensing an opportunity, led Lofty out to the archery range in the back pasture and demonstrated the accuracy and stability of the older bow. I guess Lofty’s dad had been looking for a new bow for some time and made the mistake of saying so in front of Skinny and Fuzz one night. See what I mean! Never, ever, even think something in either of their presence. They can read minds you know!
The bow was pretty impressive, and if not for the lefty thing, I probably would have bought it for myself! Skinny then gave Lofty another of his lessons in the art of deal making. I don’t think Skinny ever heard of Donald Trump, so there probably isn’t a connection, but I wondered if Trump had really plagiarized how to make a deal from Skinny and Fuzz? “Lofty” he said confidently, “what you do is, show the accuracy, the new bow string, the free arrows, the almost new release, and the wrist guard to your dad. Let him know I wouldn’t make this kind of deal for anyone else, and get however much you can over Three Hundred. Three hundred is mine, and the rest is yours!”
Lofty smiled in understanding and headed home.
The boy came back an hour later with three-hundred and fifty bucks! “I had to throw in the sight too, I hope that’s ok?”
“Ah well, hard to shoot without a sight, so no problem” Skinny replied, “Besides, it was McCityBoys sight so I ain’t out nothin!” Dangit, I thought the sight he’d put on the bow looked a little familiar.
Unless you’re related to Skinny and Fuzz, you should be able to figure out that between the three of us currently admiring Skinny’s ability to make a buck, I was the only one who lost out in the deal. As Skinny headed for the house I said “Hey, I paid you forty bucks for that sight, pay up Skinny!”
Skinny said something that sounded a lot like “finders keepers” but I wasn’t sure. Either way, I never saw a dime of that money and surely never got my sight back.
Fuzz is a different story. Like I said, he has another angle that works well for him. Well, really two, ok Three. First, he tries to get ME to buy it, whatever IT is. If that doesn’t work, he tries to get Skinny to sell it for him – to me, and finally, if all else fails, he loans it to me. He figures it’s much easier to get someone to buy something if they’re already in possession of it. Possession is 9/10th’s of the law after all. For example, I left my wife’s snowmobile and trailer at Fuzz’s place because he sold it to me, and I didn’t have anywhere else to keep it. Admittedly, it was an older pair, not really in competition with modern equipment, but it was still functional and well taken care of. A friend of his was going snowmobiling and wanted to borrow the trailer.
“I don’t want to unload the snowmobile already on the trailer” Fuzz argued.
“That’s ok” his friend said, “I’m only taking one up with me because my other one was totaled last week.”
“Oh?” replied Fuzz, “So you’re not going alone?”
“Nope, my Fiancé is going too.”
“Cool” Fuzz said, “then you take my trailer and use the machine already loaded for your fiancé. It’s in fine shape and she’ll have fun on it! Besides, it’s not good to haul one snowmobile on a two place trailer because it makes an unbalanced load. Hey did you see the new tires on the trailer?”
“Nice” replied his friend, “I usually can’t pull a trailer anywhere without getting a flat.”
“That’s funny, me neither. There’s a good spare too, just in case, and the Jack is on the tongue of the trailer on that welded mounting bracket I had installed.”
“Ah, I didn’t think, will the lights on your truck work with the 6 round plug on the trailer?” “Shoot, I didn’t think of that. Mine is a 4 plug flat”
“No worries, I have an adapter you can use” replied Fuzz.
“Hey, what’s the for sale sign on there all about?” his friend asked “Are you selling the trailer or the snowmobile?”
The exact question Fuzz was waiting for! “Both, they’re a package deal. Why, are you interested?”
“Nah, not really, but you never know”
“That’s right, you never know. You take both and have fun. Let me know if you’re interested when you get back. When will that be?”
“Sunday night probably” his friend replied.
“Sound’s good. Let me know if you have any trouble with the trailer or snowmobile” Fuzz replied.
Fuzz gave me a call that evening and told me he’d loaned the trailer and snowmobile out. I wasn’t overly worried about it. I didn’t want to buy it in the first place, but Fuzz had made it sound like a good deal, and my wife really wanted a snowmobile to go with my boiler machine!
He then asked “Hey, you remember that for sale sign you left on the trailer after I sold it to you?”
“Well my friend thought it was still for sale. You want me to get rid of it for you?”
“Depends, how much can you get?” “Probably what you paid me for it. You want?” Boy did I want! I’d paid two grand a month ago. Bean told me he’d only paid fifteen hundred for it, but Fuzz too said he had made a lot of upgrades. Granted, a lot of those were bought at a junk yard, but newer tires were always nice! “Ok, go ahead then!” I replied.
Two days later, Fuzz brought me a check for two thousand one hundred dollars. More than I’d paid him for the pair to begin with. He said “my friend’s Fiancé really liked the snowmobile. She agreed with me that it would give them something to do together, and got upset every time he said no, thinking he didn’t really love or want to spend time with her!”
“Nice job Fuzz!” I replied.
Fuzz’s wife jumped in and told me he’d actually sold it for Twenty-Five-hundred. But I was ok with the price, so she let it drop. Then she started telling the story of how he was able to get the price so high. “It seems his friend’s fiancé got madder and madder every time he balked at buying it for her. It was funny; Every time he said no” she said, “the price went up by fifty bucks!”
I laughed heartily, while counting the money Fuzz had given me. Not because I didn’t trust Fuzz, but because I was supposed to hand fifty of that to Skinny. I’d bet him that Fuzz wouldn’t be able to get more than two thousand for the pair. Stupid of me right? You would think so, but I bet Lofty a hundred that I’d finally be able to get rid of the dang things and not lose any money in the process. With Lofty’s hundred, I banked a nice little profit on the deal.
“How’d you do it? What was the clincher?” I asked Fuzz while trying to think of a way to remind Skinny of the bow sight he never reimbursed me for! I was valiantly trying to get out of giving Skinny fifty bucks to even out the score a little.
“The clincher?” He parroted, “Well I told her that most men love to have their fiancé’s with them on snowmobile trips, and that it would be important for her later on in life when things started to cool off. But she looked a little skeptical at that pronouncement, so I nailed her with a suggestion that maybe her husband-to-be’s finances weren’t in as good a shape as he led her to believe! – Done Deal!”
Smiling, he then added “I don’t think my friend is overly happy with me right now. Turns out that was the money he was saving for the wedding ring!” Skinny and Lofty were both lying on the ground, holding their stomachs, and having what appeared to be convulsions resembling fits of laughter. I used the distraction as an opportunity to get in my truck and leave before Skinny remembered the fifty bucks!
So you see, while both Skinny and Fuzz have their own ways of making money, each is not only effective, but highly personalized to their strengths, in reality, it gets really bad when the two mischief-makers team up.
Skinny likes to get others to do the dirty work for him, and Fuzz makes the buyer feel guilty for not wanting what is obviously a great deal. Put them together, and you get a deadly sales team.
For example, Fuzz had about two hundred tons of first cutting hay (a grass and alfalfa mix) to sell last year to make room for his second cutting. The price is usually about a hundred twenty dollars a ton, and Skinny talked Lofty into being the salesman by letting him keep anything above one hundred forty dollars a ton he could get out of the buyer. Well, the buyer showed up, climbed all over the haystack, moved a few bales around, pronounced it satisfactory, and then climbed down. He looked up at Lofty, and with courage unexpected from such a little guy in the presence of a giant, advised he didn’t want anything to do with paying more than a hundred thirty a ton. Lofty gave him a soft smile that looked a lot like a grimace, and the guy backed up a couple of feet. Lofty said “hold on a second, I gotta call the owner and see if he’ll accept one-forty-five.
“Hey” the man said, “I said I didn’t want to pay more than one-thirty!”
“Well, now we’re in the haggling stage sir” Lofty replied, taking a large step towards the buyer, and while looking at the crown of the man’s balding head, said “Besides, the guy on the phone asked whether you routinely turned down quality hay to feed your animals substandard feed at a cheaper price, and whether the Humane Society had ever been out to your place?”
To this day, I’m not sure why the guy didn’t just leave. It may have had something to do with the guy’s truck and trailer being backed up to the haystack by Skinny so it could be loaded. Anyways, he settled on one-hundred forty two dollars and fifty cents a ton. Everyone but me made something off of that deal. Luckily, I didn’t have any skin in the game either!
I do know this though, if either Skinny or Fuzz ever tries to sell you something, my suggestion would be to run. They’ve either broken whatever it is they’re trying to sell, or have jacked the price up more than you can afford. Either way, the most likely scenario is that whatever you decide, I’ll end up losing money!