After I embarrassed myself in front of Jon and no one else, I decided to see what I could find out about the silly portrait of the galoot and his gal. Whether you like it or not has little to do with the value of an antique, I’m told. The thing has been appraised at $60,000 they say, and five of that is the frame. Hanging that much money on the wall, with people starving, is crazy, I say.

I sought answers from a chatterbox, Bruno “Teddy Bear” Bach, who has lived here almost forever. Teddy Bear is a bi-i-ig man. Really big. Especially big around. He gets along great with women who like to snuggle up to his immense fluffy torso. Once I saw two women draped on him like lion cubs on a mama and all three of them napping. There was nothing sexual about it, or is there about him, but eeeooooo, it looked disgusting!

But I figured he would know so I asked him. “Glad to gab; that’s me,” he chirped. “Any subject, anytime, anywhere.” When I asked about the picture he laughed. “Sure I’ll tell you more than you want to know about that piece of . . . of . . . well, that unusual portrait. The lovely couple are Finnegan and Olivia Hampshire, the original source of wealth that paid for the room. Old Finnegan the First made a pile of loot selling shares in a fictional gold mine in Arizona to desperately poor folk, one of whom robbed a bank so he could invest.

“Money in the hands of the unscrupulous can grow rapidly. The original trickle became a torrent. This room came from the generous check writing of Finnegan Hampshire the Fourth. Trying to be elegant, he spells it out instead of using Roman numerals. More distinctive, he says. He peddles bathroom fixtures wholesale, a toilet tycoon with too much money and too little integrity.

“Back to the picture’s value. Finney the Fourth bought an appraisal from a local pawn shop owner who knew the photo was not a Daguerrotype and had minimal value but who reconsidered. The appraisal got larger when his fee for the appraisal fee grew larger. Finney the Fourth got the big tax deduction he paid for and Kari Hampshire got rid of something that annoyed her. Who can blame her? But I smell several stinks in this deal and I’d like to throw Finney into the same place I’d throw the picture!”

That’s what Bruno “Teddy Bear” Bach told me today. Maybe it’s true.

Is gossip about old times important? Or talking about things we can’t control? Do those need to mean anything to us? I think they do not. What is more important, it seems to me, is where we are headed when this life concludes. What do you think? Can we talk about that?

Think Abouts Worth Discussing:

1. What do you believe happens when life ends?

2. Where can we get reliable information about what happens when life ends?

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