The Birth, Life and Possible Death of Jack T. Gidley
(Truth in a fictional setting)
Featuring the Boys in the Corner
By Jim Penn
I arrived earlier than usual at our special corner in the State Street Bar and Grill. Only Joe was there. After I ordered coffee (that’s another story) and Joe got his beer, he spilled the beans.
“Jim, I’ve got a problem and I don’t know what to do. Will you help me?”
“Two aspirins and call me in the morning, seventeen, and not in cans are the only answers I have.”
“No, I’m serious, Jim. I need your input.”
“Well, it started when I had been separated from Marie for about four months. I wanted cable in the little home I bought. I was bored and decided to see if they’d open the account in any name. I made one up, Jack T. Gidley, and he got the service. I’d established credit for somebody who didn’t even exist! I paid with my own checks, but ‘Jack’ had the cable service.
“Then Jack started getting junk mail, and I decided to play my game again; just for fun, Jack became a Book·of·the·Month·Club member, and a darned good one at that! He read everything; of course, I paid for the books.”
I drained my coffee, and ordered something stronger, a root beer (but that’s another story).
“Marie and I were getting closer but still weren’t ready to reconcile. I bought a small house, and Jack moved with me.
“He got all kinds of mail. He was invited to join societies, offered American Express and Visa cards, invited to high-powered seminars and asked to contribute to every charity known to beast and man. In fact, he received more mail than me, which was downright embarrassing for two reasons: one, I am a real person and, two, the mailman was becoming suspicious. He kept asking, ‘Who is this guy? Does he live here? Are he you related?’ And he was relentless in his pursuit.”
Bill No. 1 joined us, and Joe had to bring him current. My root beer was gone, and I needed something stronger. The State Street Bar and Grill, on the cutting edge of bars and grills, had an espresso machine (no story there), and I ordered a double.
Joe continued, “Then it got good. For whatever reason, the junk mailers concluded that Jack T. Gidley was married, because I received mail addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Jack T. Gidley. Leading the way were life insurance companies and a cremation society. Apparently, everybody dies, even if they never existed.
“I was amused, but put Jack and his wife out of my mind because Marie and I finally got our differences worked out. She sold the big house and moved in with me. She called the little house our ‘love cottage’.”
Suspecting that Bill No. 1 was about to interject a comment, I cautioned him, “Don’t say a word, Bill. It’s not worth it.”
Joe continued, “Marie moved in on a Sunday. The following Tuesday, the whatever hit the fan. In the mail we got a sample maxi pad, a magazine offer for Mrs. Jack T. Gidley and several solicitations addressed to Jack. Marie came unglued.
“ ‘Who is this Jack T. Gidley? And who is Mrs. Jack T. Gidley? What’s going on here? Have you been unfaithful? Who are these people?’ And she just wouldn’t let up. She was worse that the mailman in her questioning.
“Well, they say truth is stranger than fiction, and I’m now a believer. I ’fessed up, but Marie just wouldn’t listen. She was yelling, ‘Are you crazy? Don’t you want your credit in your own name? What kind of a name is Gidley? Are you nuts?’
“The harder I tried to explain, the angrier Marie got. She packed her bags, walked out and is now living with her sister in Oregon, wherever that is. But you know, the joke is on her! She left too soon, because only today Jack got the big one in the mail from Ed McMahon. There, right insid
e the cellophane envelope, were six $1,000,000 winners, and Jack was the first one in line.”
Joe leaned back on his stool, finished his beer and proclaimed to all (John and Bill No. 2 had arrived), “God, I love that guy.”
Joe said his good-byes and walked away from our Corner, happy as a lark.
Bill No. 2 asked, “What was that all about?”
I wanted to answer, but all of us were laughing too hard to speak.