Uncle Art was the smartest man on the planet for sure. He proved it everyday just being wrong. That may sound crazy, but know what? It worked out right. Three seasons he traveled from Maine to Miami and back, working his act on seaside boardwalks. Winters he and Aunt Vera relaxed in their little trailer on Narragansett Bay. He changed his name and his costume fairly often to, as he would say “Keep the act fresh. Be relevant in today’s market.” Well, that seemed a bit much, but like I said, he was the smartest man on earth. Some times he was “Frankie Future” and wore a space suit and a turban. For “Marcello the Mysterious” a tux with his turban. He might be a time traveler, an ancient mystic swami, or a visitor for the mysterious and undefined seventh dimension. But always, always he wore his signature turban.
The act was straight forward. For three dollars (five seemed too high) he would guess anything about you. Your age, gender, race, country of origin, favorite past time – anything. And since he always “Guessed” wrong, you won. You won a prize worth three cents or less. A stick of gum, a miniature pocket-comb, maybe an individual tissues in cellophane labeled in Korean. Net gain $2.97. That’s how it worked with the gents and the kids. They would walk away, chewing their gum, or trying out their new inch long comb, laughing about how they got the better of the “Expert Guesser.” Women, being much smarter, were another situation.
Uncle Art was at his best with the ladies. In the face of all reality and sanity, despite incredibly contrary evidence he told every single woman the same thing. “My dear, you are thirty one years of age, weigh precisely one hundred and twelve pounds. Your family has its roots in south of France, and dare I say… you have a hint of royal blood. That might not have been exactly what you or I would have guessed, but that’s what “Swami Savior-fare” or who ever Uncle Art was at the time told ‘em. And you know what? They all agreed. “Yes” they said, “Francis O’Fourtune was right on all counts, ….. incredibly so! It was absolutely amazing”, they declared, “how anyone, anyone could be so completely, totally, one hundred percent correct.”
And since Uncle Art was “Right”, he kept the whole three bucks. Sometimes
a particularly happy client would slip him a few extra dollars. He would bend to kiss her hand and whisper “Thank you, … your Highness.” That put a smile on a few faces.
Women got the joke, and men just didn’t. Uncle Art might “Guess” for six or seven hundred people on a good day in the summer. He’d have given away some gum, a few factory second pocket protectors. He’d come back tired, with a smile on his face, and couple of grand in singles and fives stuffed in his pockets.
Years latter, when he and Aunt Vera finally retired to Florida, people would
ask “So Artie, tell me, what did you do before your retired?” Aunt Vera would jump in and say, “My husband was in information business.