A Day at the Beach
“Son, it’s your lucky day. Ever been to Gin Lane?”
“In Chinatown?” I replied, guessing wildly and badly.
“I see. Never been east of Jones Beach. You’re a native New Yorker, where did you summer?”
“Mostly on the F train to Coney Island” I responded, hoping he thought I was being funny and not just honest.
“Well then you are in for a treat. Gin Lane is the most expensive road in Southampton. Here, catch.”
As keys were flung across the partner’s desk the details of my treat began to emerge.
“There’s a rental waiting for you downstairs in the garage. I picked you especially for this assignment. I’ve been told you have an easy manner and excellent rapport with your co-workers.”
“Thank you, I try…”
Paul didn’t wait for my stumbling reply to finish.
“Now let’s see if you can get along with our high-end clients. Not to worry it’s easy peasy. Just get husband and wife to sign the tax return and get the original back here in the mailroom by midnight so we can put 1978 to bed without any extension. These are VIP clients. He won a Tony a few years back and we have been doing their returns for a decade. Smile kid you’re spending the day at the beach.”
Cautiously I asked, “Is there anything special I should know before I meet the clients?”
“Of course. Don’t let Quixote and Dulcinea intimidate you.”
“No, the Great Danes.”
“I meant the return, sir”, as I was definitely shuttled three quarters out the door.
“Line 64 says it all and you have the pleasure of passing that news onto our clients. Joyce, give the young man directions due east”.
Then the door shut tight.
Before I set off on my journey I quickly reviewed the return seeking out the previously referred to Line 64 ‘Amount to be REFUNDED TO YOU’. Holy moley! Sitting on the same Line 64 as sat my own $487 refund was $98,776. The IRS was going to send to this guy on Gin Lane more than three years of my salary, before withholdings. I was beginning to hate this guy, Gin Lane, and quite possibly Quixote and Dulcinea.
With the $98 thousand refund return and directions in the passenger seat I drove to the LIE. By the time I hit the Nassau border I had calmed down and convinced myself that I was a tax professional and hate was not a professional emotion. I determined quiet, seething envy was more professional. For perhaps 10 exits I began to imagine I just might get a ticker tape parade down Gin Lane for bringing such good news wrapped in IRS paper. At the very least they would name Quixote and Dulcinea’s first born after me.
I was excited. The sun was shining quite strongly as I drove through a picture postcard called Southampton Village. I was probably only minutes from sharing ninety eight thousand plus pieces of good news. I knew there would be no ticker tape but maybe a hearty handshake from him and a hug from her. Perhaps I would get a hug from each.
Driving all the way to the end of the main street there it was, Gin Lane. I turned left and drove slowly past hedges and gates. Then the gate I was looking for was to my right. I had to get out of the car and try to figure out which button would get me inside. After pushing every button I heard a voice that kept repeating he could not hear me. Finally someone appeared and after showing my driver’s license he opened the gate but not before showing me a green button that clearly said Talk. I tried to act cool but what I entered into on the other side was pure Gatsby and it sure was great. Needless to say the house was enormous made out of limestone like a French chateau. The driveway was lined with perfectly placed white and grey stones. The shrubs and lawns did not have a leaf or blade out of place. Did I mention the urns and statuary would make a cemetery die from envy. I had been to museums smaller than this place. With the tax return in hand I walked to the front door. First I had to stop and listen and smell. There was an ocean nearby but still unseen. The door opened and the sight of a petite blue haired lady helped the flutter in my stomach subside.
“I have your tax return”, I blurted out much too prematurely.
“Hello, Mr. and Mrs. are waiting inside”, she replied.
I laughed, said hello, and felt the healthiness of my spleen go to work as the heat of its labors reached my face. I forged ahead and there it was waiting for me in all its glory through what must have been 20 feet of floor to ceiling glass.
“The ocean is putting on quite a show today. I see it has entranced you like all of our guests. I’m Sylvia and this is Robert. Paul told us a fine young man was coming to bring us the dreaded grim tax reaper.”
I immediately apologized for my distracted ways and introduced myself. Robert then gave me a present. It was a Yoyo that lit up when it went down and up.
“Do you see this thing? It bought this house and the apartment on Beekman Place, Robert added.
I was gaining confidence that things were going extremely well. So with a bit of flair I placed a copy of the tax return in front of Robert, Sylvia and the very large Dulcinea and even larger Quixote who both had also joined the meeting. I sat opposite the four of them in the seat with the view of the ocean.
Then suddenly there was a shrill scream. I could not tell if it was from Sylvia, from Robert or possibly not human at all. I prayed so hard it was a squeal of delight. That afternoon I had unanswered prayers. Robert got up slowly from his seat. I would not swear to it but I believe there was foam at the corners of his mouth. Then the tsunami began.
“This cannot be my return. I was assured of a six-figure refund. I count only five figures.”
I ridiculously tried to reason and say they were less than two thousand dollars away from six figures. I learned a big lesson from that exchange. It mostly involved me shutting up. Robert told me how many millions he put into a show last year that was supposed to run forever. It had all the right talent and all the right names and a bucket load of his money.
“It was all about working but it didn’t work”, Sylvia added sadly.
“Twelve previews and twenty-four performances and then the curtain came down forever. Did you see the show?”
“No I did not”, I quietly said.
“Of course not. No one saw the show, no one. I want my losses back. Get Paul on the phone.”
I fumbled for Paul’s card and then looked for the phone. Sylvia said it was on the table. I walked toward the table and looked in wonder and ignorance at the object on the table. I picked it up and still could not figure out how you make a phone call.
Robert grabbed the damn thing and looked me in the eye and said, “What’s the matter haven’t you ever seen a portable phone before?”
I actually shook my head no in disgrace. We got Paul on the line and he asked to speak to me. I told him Robert and Sylvia were disappointed with their refund. I then added things were going very well until they saw the refund.
“How do you know that”, he bellowed.
I immediately responded that they gave me a Yoyo. That’s when I learned just how portable that phone was. With the phone still at my ear Robert, Sylvia, Quixote and Dulcinea paraded me to the door without a shred of ticker tape. I was then told to wait outside and play with my Yoyo. For the second time that day a door shut definitively in my face.
A half hour passed and just as I was perfecting ‘Rock the Baby’ on my Yoyo the blue haired lady accompanied by the towering Quixote and Dulcinea opened the door and handed me the signed return. I jumped in the car and fled. Back on the LIE I tried in vain to figure out what just happened. As I loosened my tie a quarter of an inch I screamed into the windshield, ”I got to get me some of that someday”, and kept going west.