“Lost big yesterday,” I muttered, head buried in the morning newspaper.
“Your fantasy football team?” my lovely wife, Grace, inquired.
“No, that’s over. The stock market. It was down 2% yesterday.”
Setting her coffee down Grace remarked, “That has been all over the television news. Some kind of day trading?”
“Exactly,” I replied, shoving the business section of the paper toward her. “Read this.” I went on attempting to explain Robinhood, Reddit, options, and shorts.
“Sounds complex,” Grace observed. After a pause she queried, “Have we invested in any of it?
“Heavens no!” I shot back. “Too risky for our blood.”
Grace tipped her head, a sign she was pondering the discussion. Finally, she mused, “But we still lost money?”
I was waist deep into an explanation of why short-seller hedge funds were selling traditional holdings including low risk equities, sometimes referred to as widows and orphans stocks, to cover losses produced by small online traders using social media platforms
when my Aunt Toogie strolled into the kitchen and began to pour a cup of coffee. When the pot produced just a few drops of liquid, she shot me a look of disapproval.
“I’ll make some more coffee, dear,” Grace announced.
“I can do it,” Toogie retorted, adding, “Speaking of losses, you’d think Jim Cramer here would know when the pot is empty,” giving me another frown. After a fresh pot was brewed, she poured herself a cup, refilled Grace’s cup, skipped me, sat down, and asked,
“Would you guys keep an eye out for an Amazon delivery today? It’s a costly item and I don’t want any porch pirate to nab it.”
“Of course we will,” Grace offered. “Will you be going out?”
“Yep. Brevard is picking me up in an hour. We’re going to Kiawah for lunch and a little shopping.” Picking her cup up, Toogie proclaimed, “I better go and get ready.”
Before she left the scene, I interjected, “How do you know this package is coming today?”
Holding her phone up for me to see, Toogie pointed to the screen and muttered, “Duh!” Anticipating my next question she continued, “Alexa will give you a notification when it arrives.” Sensing I still wasn’t on the proper wavelength, she closed with, “Grace can explain it, Einstein,” as she patted my shoulder and headed upstairs.
As I continued to read about the new wolves of Wall Street, Grace spoke in a low voice, “I hope I’m not being unnecessarily nosey, but I’m a little worried about Toogie.”
“Getting too close to Brevard?” I offered. “I never really liked…”
“No, no,” Grace interrupted, “not that. It’s just that she has been making a lot of purchases online lately.” After a pause she pondered, “I don’t know if it’s a problem. It’s just that my radar is up, if you know what I mean.”
My expression must have conveyed that I didn’t know what she meant, so Grace launched into an explanation. It seems she and Toogie had found some nice winter pajamas online a couple weeks ago and each bought a pair. My shrug didn’t slow Grace down.
She went on to describe how just this week Toogie had purchased an expensive purse online and then two pairs of Stuart Weitzman shoes. I nodded and observed that I had seen a bunch of recent deliveries on the porch and a growing pile of Amazon boxes in the garage.
Leaning in, Grace said, “It’s just – I don’t know – I’m hoping she has the money. I don’t know what Uncle Harold left her and I don’t want to pry. But I’d feel awful if I got her hooked on online shopping.”
Patting my hand, she whispered, “I hear her coming downstairs now. Maybe you can discreetly discuss this with her.”
“You look lovely, dear,” Grace exclaimed, as Toogie rejoined us.
“Like my new purse?” Toogie asked. “It’s Louis Vuitton.”
Grace and I exchanged knowing glances. Turning to me, Toogie asked, “I thought you were going to watch out for my package?” When I could only offer a puzzled look, she barked, “Alexa, what’s the notification?” The Alexa gadget was only halfway through reporting there was a delivery when Toogie slapped me on the back, “Come on Jeff Bezos. Help me bring this in. It’s heavy.”
“Grace, get us some scissors,” Toogie requested, as I lifted the big box onto a kitchen counter. Then like a surgeon, she began to gently slice open seams. “Don’t want to damage it if it isn’t properly wrapped,” Toogie announced. She finally opened the top flaps of
the package and we all peered inside to see something big, shiny, and ornate.
“Oh, my!” Grace gasped. “What is it?”
“An Italian espresso maker,” Toogie declared. “After Brevard and I canceled that cruise on the Po River, I thought I’d bring a little bit of Italy to us.”
I carefully extracted the large machine from the box. It stood over two feet tall, looked to be handcrafted brass and copper, with spouts and dials, and with a large sculpture of an eagle, wings open wide, on top. “Where will we put it?” Grace asked.
“Got that figured out,” Toogie declared. “In the butler pantry. Dalton can move some of those bourbon bottles.” Before I could protest, Grace stated, “It’s quite, what should I say, exotic,” at the same time giving me the eagle eye as if to say, “ask her about you know what.”
Deftly taking my cue, I asked Toogie, “Are you sure you can afford this on your social security checks?” Grace recoiled, possibly an indication that I may have slightly over-stepped on the discrete part.
“No problem,” Toogie smiled. When I tipped my head searching for more, she added, “I made 45-large on GameStop just this week.”
“Thousands. You know; a large, a big one, a thousand.”
“You made $45,000?” I gasped.
“Yeah, not bad for a few day’s trades,” she replied rather nonchalantly. “But it's pre-tax. I gotta pay Uncle Sam but, hey, that’s the price of success.” A car horn sounded and she added, “That must be Brevard. I gotta run. I’ll help us set up this baby when I get back although I think we may need to call a plumber to install a dedicated water line.” With a “toot-a-loo,” she was off and out the front door.
Grace and I sat silently, glancing back and forth at the big brass Italian stallion coffee machine and each other. Slowly, Grace began to grin. “Tell me about the widow’s stocks again,” she chuckled. When I didn’t respond she asked, “What’s the matter, eagle got your tongue?”
After a long pause, I muttered, “I think I need a drink. Maybe a Makers on the rocks even though it’s not quite noon. How about you?”
Putting her thumb, forefinger, and ring finger to her lips, Grace made a kissing gesture and cooed, “A cappuccino would be bellissimo.”