Calhoun’s Can(n)ons for June 26, 09
Ed McMahon, Johnny Carson’s long time setup man as well as pitchman for a variety of products, including the American Family Publishers sweepstakes operation, is dead. I’m sorry to hear of his passing, but I still gotta ask: Ed, where’s my money?
For years, Ed would regularly send me these huge envelopes stuffed with all kinds of ads for geegaws and doodads and promises of millions – hundreds of millions! – more money than I could imagine if only I would paste in the little stamps so he could send me, at the bargain basement price of half-off, such magazines as “Knitting Today,” or the latest exercise video promising I’d lose my love handles and have six-pack abs in just 30 days for only $39.95. Or instead of buying magazines, all the money would be mine if I’d find and paste in all the little hidden certificates and return the whole packet in a big hurry. A real big hurry, which was always such a bother since I never would have any postage stamps in the house and would have to get out of my slippers and get dressed and walk all the way to the post office and then sometimes I’d miss the deadline anyway.
But it was wonderful, our relationship. Something special. And enduring. Very enduring. Year after year he promised, all that money, all those riches were just for me! Oh, sure, he’d sometimes address the envelope to Miss Al Calhoun, or sometimes, Mr. Ann Calhoun. But it didn’t matter. Everybody knew Ed couldn’t spell a lick anyway, bless his heart.
So there’s I’d wait, standing by the postbox on the corner in my ratty slippers, in the rain, sleet and snow, waiting for my millions. Or I’d spend days standing by the front window waiting for the Prize Patrol with their balloons to bounce up my rutted dirt road and pull into my driveway. But the only thing that would arrive from Ed would be more sweepstakes entries, even bulkier envelopes with even more stamps and more little coupons and even more promises. Pretty soon my tongue ran out of spit to lick the little stamps so I got the dogs to do it. But when I couldn’t afford new glasses, let me tell you, the dogs were no help finding all those little hidden special coupons. Dogs can’t read. Not the fine print, at least.
But I didn’t care. Ed was special. Ed was my friend. Ed promised me and me alone that he would personally deliver giant sacks of money right to my door and do it on September 6, 1988 or July 14, 2006, so I knew he wasn’t lying. He had the date right there!
So on we toiled. When they shut off the electricity for non-payment, the dogs and I sat by the light of a fire fueled by all of Ed’s left-over sweepstake entries. Piles and piles of them. Some I hadn’t had time to fill out yet, they came so often. It was hard to keep up. So many, in fact that I had to pile them up neatly in stacks and pretty soon it was often hard for me to get through the front door and the neighbors complained which caused the county nuisance abatement people to come out and try to give me a citation. But I fooled them. Wouldn’t let them in the door.
But it all worked out well when winter came because I could heat the whole house with those left-over envelopes. So you can see how good Ed was to me – supplying both heat and light. And he did that because he loved me and wanted me to be rich. Just me. Said so right there on that envelope.
And then the dream began to crumble. I found out he had been sending the same promises to other people besides me. Oh, Ed, Ed! How could you! After all those years telling me that you would make me rich beyond my wildest dreams of avarice. Rich enough, in fact to buy some of the crummy magazines you were selling. And there you were canoodling up to other people, promising the same thing. Feckless, Ed. You were feckless.
And now you’re dead. I’m sorry for that, though at 86 years, you had a wonderful run and gave a lot of people a lot of laughs, and I hope God blesses you forever, wherever you are.
But a promise is a promise, so I still gotta ask: Where’s my money?