Sunday, February 8, 2015


My husband is a would-be grifter. A grifter is a con artist who enjoys “shady dealings,” sometimes offering to pave your driveway with his “leftover” load of asphalt at a deep, deep discount. It’s not asphalt, Folks. It’s salt dough made of flour, salt, and water.

My husband isn’t the fake asphalt selling kind of con artist. He’s the ‘let’s get free stuff from the timeshare people’ type of con man. Unfortunately, he sometimes likes to drag me into his pit of shady dealings.

There was this once . . . well, it all began with a phone call from a Timeshare salesperson.

“How about a romantic weekend?” Sherwood called out over his shoulder, while pausing in his over-the-phone dickering.

“A romantic weekend? With whom?”

“Me,” he said.

“How far do I have to go?”

More phone dickering ensued.

“Right down the road at the Hilton Resort and Day Spa, right here in Orlando.”

“No planes? Some romance but not too much? Reading by the pool? What’s the catch?”

“No catch. It’s free.”

“Hmmmmmmm! Sounds like a hookup, and you know how I feel about hookups. I believe that you should pay all the cash money, so that you can use all your vocal cords when you complain.”

“Sign us up,” he said. The dickering ended and the hookup began.

In the truck on the way to “the romantic weekend” he let me know that 1) the grandchildren would be joining us, and 2) the grandchildren would be staying the night along with their parents bringing the total number of people in our room to about three hundred, and 3) I had to attend an hour and a half timeshare presentation—at 8:00am the next morning—the hookup.

“I am not attending a timeshare sales pitch. I hate those things. I won’t do it.”

“You have to, or they’ll kick us out, and besides, I kind of fudged to get us a free weekend. Usually, they won’t let you stay in their resort if you live locally, but the nice man on the phone . . .”

“You mean the other disgusting con artist?”

“The nice man said that I could use my Marietta, Georgia business address, and that there will be a free breakfast and gift cards.

“What are we homeless? Is this our new strategy to feed the family?”

I went to the pitch. I was wearing a bathing suit, reading a book, and sporting a bad attitude. I continued to read my book through the entire video presentation that promised Nirvana and gift cards should we purchase a Hilton timeshare. 

The high-pressure sales lady looked at my husband, the crook, and said, “Your wife doesn’t seem to be too interested.”

“Hee, ha, hee, well, she’s here under protest. Hee, hee, hee,” he said as sweat dripped from his criminal brow.

“We’re not buying a timeshare,” I explained. “We live down the road. We’re here to eat your breakfast, sleep in your beds, use your toilets, swim in your pool, and collect our reward; besides my husband gets endless, free Marriot points from five star resorts. Can you beat free?”

“Mind if I call in my manager?” she said.

“Please. Call two,” I said, stuffing a bookmark into my book. “We’ll wait.” 

The manager was very nice but determined to get to the bottom of our “situation.” 

“Your phone salesman. The guy who contacted us suggested the work address scam. The guy who works for you. You know, the guy you hired to call us.”

“Shady, very shady,” the manager said.

“Excellent choice of words,” I said, glaring at my shady husband. As we left the presentation—early—my husband, the charlatan, turned, paused, and said to the nice manager, “I hate to be tacky but I understood there were gift cards involved.”

In disgust, I left the further dickering to change my identity and forge a passport. Later, at the pool, as I watched the grandchildren frolic, I turned to my husband, Mack the Knife, and said, “Seems like a lot of trouble to swim in someone else’s swimming pool.”

“But fun.”

That’s how it starts—a life of crime and shady dealings.

Linda (Law and Order) Zern

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