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8:15 a.m. - 2002-08-19

IF I HAD A MILLION DOLLARS, I'D BUY YOU A LIFE

I've probably mentioned it here at least once, but as I am currently old and feeble I cannot remember if I have told you guys this or not.

I am a millionaire.

Well ... not technically.

At Christmas 1997, my mother-in-law did a wonderful thing for each of her kids.

She invested $100 apiece in their names in some off-shore developments in the Bahamas or somewhere around there.

There was a long, drawn out letter that accompanied the "deed" to these developments that explained that by Christmas 1998, we would have earned $200,000. If we decided to keep our money invested, by 1999, we'd have $500,000. And by 2000, if we could hold out that long .... we'd all have a million bucks apiece.

Sounds too good to be true??

Yep. That's what I thought.

Susie's Mom was so proud of herself that Christmas. She had finally redeemed herself in her eyes and what she thought to be the eyes of her children. We all sat around as she discussed how she was going to spend her millions (she invested $500 for herself) and we just stared at her in quiet disbelief.

Susie and I laughed about this "gift" afterwards. I said that it really sucked that her mom had once again got roped into yet another "get rich quick" scam that would result in us getting nothing and her being out $1,000.

I actually thought we would get nothing out of this.

Here it is, 2002 and we had never heard anything about our "million dollars".

Until late last week when a very official envelope came in the mail.

Susie opened it and squealed.

And that's when she showed me the check.

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.....For $15.50.

That's fifteen dollars and fifty cents in case you missed the little period there.

As it turns out ... the guy who developed this scam was actually a very good friend of Susie's mom that she used to talk about quite a bit named Frank.

Frank had been indicted on this scam and had a court date a few months back where he was found guilty of bilking all his friends out of hundreds of dollars and telling them that he was going to make them all millionaires.

Frank's property was seized. He owned a house, some acreage, some things he had bought with my mother-in-law's money as well as other people's money and a truck.

Total value....$436,000.

After splitting up the money between everyone that he had ripped off, and paying any legal fees or whatever ... we received our total earnings of $15.50 last week.

Which means I can't quit my job just yet like I had planned to do back in 1997.

The best part about this long letter that we received from the government was in big bold print: "Remember...if it sounds too good to be true ... IT IS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE."

I wanted to highlight that part of the letter and make sure Susie's mom read it. Over and over again.

This explains why her Mom suddenly stopped talking about Frank a year or two ago. I always thought they were lovers because of the amount of time she spent talking about how great he was.

Well Frank's in prison now for 33 months.

Probably getting a booty plug every night from his cellmate.


I did something really stupid this weekend.

Not as stupid as believing something my mother-in-law might have said. Heavens no...I'm not THAT dimwitted.

I watched some of the videotapes of my old TV show.

Some of you may have been reading this diary long enough to know that back in 1997 through 1999, I was the co-host of not one ... but two local television shows.

Now ... you may think "Gawsh...a TV show starring Uncle Bob?? That had to be GREAT!!"

And in retrospect, it WAS great.

...A great lesson in humility.

On Saturday afternoon, out of sheer boredom, I put one of the tapes of some of the later shows that I had filmed.

I looked so completely lost that deer caught in headlights would have been embarrassed for me.

Granted, I didn't have that great of subject matter to work with either. The premise of these shows were to basically interview local people about interesting events going on around town.

And when there wasn't anything going on around town ... we'd just interview local people about whatever they wanted to talk about.

Trust me ... your average trip to the dentist is more exciting than interviewing local people about absolutely nothing.

One of the shows that I struggled to watch was excrutiatingly painful for me to not only witness, but to film.

The co-host, Bonnie, had decided that she wanted to dedicate an entire hour-long episode to interviewing children with interesting collections.

We had an 11 year-old boy who collected baseball cards.

And a 13 year-old girl who collected troll dolls.

It was my job to interview them both.

Since this was an hour-long show, the segments were broken down as follows...the first ten minutes, Bonnie and I bantered back and forth.

Then spend 20 minutes talking to the boy with the baseball cards. Twenty minutes with Troll Girl. Then ten more minutes of witless banter at the end of the show.

The witless banter wasn't so hard to accomplish. Those minutes mainly consisted of Bonnie saying stupid things and me rolling my eyes for the people at home to understand that I felt the same way they did ... that Bonnie should be declared legally insane.

It was the interviewing of the children that made me feel ashamed. Like my Mom had caught me masturbating or something.

The first kid with his baseball cards wasn't too bad. He had several notebooks filled with baseball cards.

Were there any vintage ones?

No.

Any valuable cards??

Uhhhhh....no.

These were just cards. Simple cards. No Hank Aarons or Babe Ruths or anything like that.

Oooo. A Cal Ripken card.

ME: "How much do you think that Cal Ripken card is worth?"

BOY: (thinking) "Probably about 15 cents."

ME: (grasping for something to add to the conversation) "Wow."

This is how the interview kept going. The boy flipping pages in the notebooks and me saying some of the names that I could read out loud and racking my brain trying to think of something to ask the kid.

ME: "Sooo...where do you get these cards?"

BOY: "At the store."

ME: "Is there any particular store?"

BOY: "Uhhhh...the grocery store."

ME: "Let's say I wanted to start a baseball card collection. Where would I start?"

BOY: "Go to the grocery store and buy a bunch of cards."

Next thing you know, I'll be asking the kid how to breathe without puncturing a lung.

This segment went on for an excrutiatingly long time and if there was anyone at home watching it, they had to be sitting there thinking "What in God's name is this lumbering dumbass doing on my television?"

But ... this wasn't nearly as bad as the Troll Girl segment.

At least the little boy was willing to TALK about his collection. The Troll Girl was what we in show business call ...uhhhh...mentally retarded.

This was the first time I had actually watched this segment since I had filmed it four years ago. The experience alone scarred me for four years. There was no way I wanted to watch it again anytime soon.

Basically, you've got me, Troll Girl and a table that is chock full of little troll dolls in every shape and size.

Naturally, you would want to know how many trolls the girl owns.

GIRL: "I dunno."

ME: "A hundred? Two hundred? How many did you bring with you today?"

GIRL: "I dunno."

ME: "Should we count them?"

GIRL: "I dunno."

I can only imagine, somebody who woke up a bit early flipping through the TV channels and landing on the image of me counting dolls out loud on a table.

ME: "...78,79,80, 81 ... no wait....did I already count that one? The one with the green hair and the University of Alabama shirt on? I did?? Okay....81...82, 83, 84...."

I would have to think that if we did stand to win a new viewer at that moment, that guy had already flipped past our show in horror.

ME: "How did you get started collecting all these wonderful dolls?"

GIRL: "My aunt gave me one."

ME: "Just one?"

GIRL: "Yes sir."

ME: "And you bought the rest?"

GIRL: "Some of them."

ME: "That's fascinating."

In the far reaches of my brain, I guess that if I told myself it was fascinating, then the viewer at home might feel inferior and start watching the show more closely because there was obviously something fascinating going on that they weren't catching.

And when I say "viewer at home", that's what I mean. The show came on at 5 a.m. and ran until 6 a.m. I figured we had one viewer at home.

I cringed the entire time I watched this stuff. And I'm a huge fan of bad entertainment which explains my love for The Anna Nicole Show. I love watching embarrassing shows that make you wince.

But my show took the cake. It could easily be a cult classic as far as Bad TV goes.

The show actually lasted a year. Bonnie had lined up enough sponsors to pay for the show for a year.

The trouble was ... Bonnie got lazy. She and her cameraman/partner ran out of ideas for the show after the first month or two. So they kept repeating the same exact shows over and over and over again for a year.

All total, we probably did about 20 different shows and after that, Bonnie stopped calling me on a regular basis. We'd talk on occasion and she'd say "Oh, I've got all sorts of ideas for new shows," but then she'd never pursue the ideas.

Bonnie had a slight drug problem. You know how I've told you guys that I smoked pot every day for 20 years?

Bonnie smoked pot CONSTANTLY. She made me look like an amateur pothead. Bonnie was a pothead extraordinaire.

I didn't find out about her drug problem until after the show "ended". She called me up one Friday afternoon at the newspaper and asked if I knew where she could get any pot.

I told her that I had some of my own that I could give her a little of and asked her who it was for. She told me that it was for her, which threw me for a loop because I never pegged her for a dope smoker.

I went over to her house that night and she explained that usually her teenage daughter hooked her up, but they were fighting and now her daughter wouldn't find her any pot.

As we sat there and passed the bong back and forth, Bonnie talked about the show. She shared all her hopes and dreams for the show. Dreams of someday taking the show "national" and being a big star.

Yes...Bonnie had visions of someday being the next Katie Couric.

I just sat and let her go on and on about the show and her life. Even though we had been co-hosts of one of the absolute worst TV shows ever, I hardly knew anything about her. She was divorced, had two teenagers, taught aerobics for several years and had a "successful" aerobics TV show a few years earlier.

I haven't heard from Bonnie for several years. The last time she got in contact with me was probably in 2000. She called the house and spoke to Susie, telling her that she had put me down for a reference for a job she had applied for and wanted me to give her a good reference when the employer called.

I don't think she got the job.

I never got the call anyway.

Anyway, that's how I wasted a Saturday afternoon.

Revisiting my sordid television past.

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