‘There was a message on the answering machine from my doctor’s office saying that I left my underpants there.”

“You shouldn’t be embarrassed that others heard the message.”

“The call was from my dentist’s office.”

Just a quick way to introduce you to my Aunt Ida.

Aunt Ida seemed to have a bottomless pit of these witticisms and delivered them all with a Mona Lisa-like smile that kept you wondering just how much truth might actually be interwoven with the fiction. Lanky fingers spinning through the air as she weaved the web of her tale that managed to capture the very essence of your being. Her eyes aglow, drawing you deeper into her flame, as she mesmerized with the details of each event.

So when Aunt Ida was summoned to the office of the IRS auditor to explain why her list of seemingly ridiculous deductions had merit, all knew the outcome before the “battle” had even begun. We just wondered, how would she pull it off?

Two shopping bags, overflowing with fraudulent receipts, balanced her sanctimonious gait as she prepared for her triumphant entrance. Donned in her Sunday best, with glasses poised on the tip of her nose, so that just the right look of determination and dominance could be clearly interpreted by all, Ida marched into the IRS office and found her prey.

The baby-skinned complexion auditor, slumped over his desk, was unaware of the battle that was soon to ensue. Armed with only the federal tax code guidelines and his rationale, he was no match for the superior opponent he was about to encounter.

Quickly sizing up her rival, she strategically surveyed the battleground and set her course for action.

“Mrs. Schwartz, you can’t claim these amounts as professional deductions for your husband’s environmental job,” as Ida’s concocted receipts began to fly from her shopping bags. Bogus receipts for magazine subscriptions to “Sewage Monthly,” “Garbage Weekly,” and “Debris Digest” soon covered the stammering school boy’s desk.

“And you can’t possibly have proof for all these claimed prescription drug purchases,” squealed from the now shrinking youth.

The battle-cry was sounded!

Up on her hind haunches, the two over-stuffed shopping bags were now thrust to full arm extension, inverted, and presented a cascade of paper flow, unparalleled by any ticker tape parade. “Receipts for my prescription drugs you needed … receipts you got.”

As he flailed his way through the waves of paper, struggling to reach the surface of the pile, she knew that she would soon be tasting the sweetness of victory. One by one, he began to tally up the amounts on the receipts by hand.

“What! You don’t have an assistant or any automated system to tally these? This will take you all day! Where’s your supervisor? I don’t have the time to wait around here all day for you to finish!” And then, with hand clutching at her chest, and staggering to a chair, she presented her finale, “I’m an old lady, my heart can’t take this kind of treatment!”

“Look … just go! The audit’s over. Your appeal is accepted.”

Stuffing the receipts back into her bags, grateful that the naivety of inexperience never noticed that all her receipts were from Walgreen’s, and all were posted for the same day. (A grateful gift from her pharmacist daughter.)

“Arrogance, accompanied by ignorance, not much of a match against this sly old gray-haired fox,” making sure that she kept this thought well to herself, as she marched with victory toward the door.

Sara Lazarus is a former nurse educator from JFK Medical Center in Edison. She is a member of Works in Progress, a writing group in Highland Park, and also enjoys acting with the Magic Mirror Players, a volunteer improve group working under the auspices of Somerset Medical Center.

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