Teddy Allen: Coming up ro$e$

Clean livin’, that’s what it is. 

What I thought was an email joke from the wealthy Amazon.com founder’s ex-wife was followed by a person wanting to give me a baby grand piano, followed by a couple of Powerball winners wanting to give me money and an elderly gentleman with maybe a bad conscious has turned into a miraculous reality for yours truly. 

Your writer buddy here is about to be rich, is the long and short of it.  

Years ago, a Nigerian prince emailed me to say he was “desperately” trying to smuggle his wealth out of his country. Bad guys were out to get it and all. 

He just needed my bank account number so he could send the dough to me, and I would hold it if I didn’t mind, and he’d show up and get it back and give me a nice gift for my troubles. A “nice gift” being some side-striped jackals, as many African elephants as I could stand, a herd of red river hogs and, don’t let me forget to mention, a couple million in United States dollars, which he could afford because two million Benjamins is couch change for your modern Nigerian prince. 

Figured it had to be a hoax. Moved on.  

But …  

A few months ago, I got another email explaining that a couple had “donated” $600,000 to me since they had just won the Powerball ticket of $316.3 million — that’s million with an ‘M’ — and all I had to do was reply to the mail. 

 Please, I was born at night, but not last night. 

 Hoax City. Moved on. 

 But y’all, things kept happening. Like a few weeks ago when my email box contained a “Yamaha baby grand” in the Subject Line and I discovered this, punctuation errors and all:  

 “How are you doing today? I am looking to give away my late husband’s Yamaha baby grand piano to a passionate instrument lover, Please let me know if you will take it or have someone who will care for it. 

“Regards, 

“Kate” 

Kate. One of my favorite female names. Plus, she’d started with wondering how I was doing, which was, I don’t know, kind. These are hard times. It was — what’s the word? — sweet. Thoughtful. 

I didn’t let the comma that was supposed to be a period confuse me; she’d lost her husband, for goodness sakes, was burdened by the baby grand that he used to play, probably singing Cole Porter to her, and she just needed help. And what could I get on today’s market for a baby grand? Probably a half-dozen car payments. 

I loved her immediately. 

But then Jerry wrote me. He was interested in “monthly donations.” While I appreciated Kate’s sentiment, the lure of a monthly stipend was hard to pass up. 

“I realize it takes money to run and operate the University and it costs money to help people every day. I get $1,060.21 in disability benefits direct deposit to my checking account on the third every month unless the third during the weekend deposit Friday. Please contact me if you feel my benefits would be useful. And thank you for your time.” 

I thought back to the email from MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire ex-wife of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos. She’d given, at the time, $4.2 billion — that’s billion with a ‘B’ — of her fortune to more than 300 organizations. Food banks. Rescue shelters. Needy folk. Me, maybe… 

And that’s when it hit me. The rich Nigerian prince and MacKenzie and the Powerball winners and even the piano widow were just other people posing as them and trying to milk me for money I didn’t have. But ….  

I still wrote the Nigerian prince. I know … I know … But what if? 

The joke is that one day, a Nigerian prince is going to die and in his room they will find a bucketful of diamonds and jewels and money and a note that reads: “I tried to give most of this away by email but …” 

If it’s true, great. The next rounds on me. If it’s a hoax?, fine.  But just know …  

I folded up like a one-egg pudding and sent him my bank account number Monday. If he wants the 346 dollars and change, I have in there, hope he has at it. The best Nigerian buffet in Port Harcourt is on me, along with a car wash and a night at the Maiduguri Inn & Suites.  

If the rest of you need money, just come to me. Don’t fall for this stuff. If you do, there’s a price to pay. 

Contact Teddy for loans and personal gifts at teddy@latech.edu 


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