(Note: This column originally ran in 2013)
I could tell immediately this was a letter I should not open.
It was addressed to me, of course, and there in the upper left corner of the envelope were these three ominous letters: IRS.
I decided to toss it but as I held it in my trembling hands, as if I were holding a viper, I noticed writing on the back of the envelope.
“Mr. DeSmit, should you by chance decide not to open this you better think twice.”
Uh-oh. Someone at the IRS knows me all too well.
Still, the anti-authority personality in me (that would be Personality -34), growled and came thisclose to ditching the letter.
But I fear the government as much as anyone so I opened it.
“Dear Mr. DeSmit,” the letter began as most letters are apt to do. “Wise choice. Now let us get right to the point. On Sept. 30, 2011, in an article in The Daily News you wrote about your affiliation with the Tea Party.
“As a result of this, this ... shall we say transgression, you are hereby and forthwith in forbearance of the actual CONSTITUTION of the United States and with the power vested in us, being AUDITED! You are ordered to appear before your nearest IRS agent on ... Oh the heck with it. We will be in touch. Let that serve as a warning. We may be looking in your window right now. Anyway, just know that we are on to you and we will see you in federal prison.
“Sincerely, The IRS.
“P.S. And if you are now regretting having opened this letter, don’t bother. It wouldn’t have changed a thing and only would have served to make us madder.
My first reaction was “Why those $@@%@-!”
My second reaction was “Huh?”
Sept. 30, 2011? I have no affiliation with the Tea Party, other than I think they are a bunch of vapid worms.
Perhaps it was one of my columns, where I have been known to stretch the truth a bit or exaggerate to make a valid point.
Maybe it was satire. Or something.
Whatever it was, I really didn’t recall ever mentioning any affiliation with the Tea Party.
So to my computer I went and here at The Daily News we have the capability of doing what is known as a “boolean” search.
So I typed in “tea party & desmit” and hit the search button.
There it was. Like magic. An article I wrote Sept. 30, 2011.
It was not a column but a feature story on Holiday Hollow in Pembroke, an entertainment center featuring shows aimed at children.
I read my story and there, in the 13th paragraph, I found my diabolical reference to the Tea Party.
“Other additions (to Holiday Hollow) over the 20 years included Hook’s Hideout Maze, a Gypsy Seance, a Mad Tea Party show ... And a Wacky Witch Magical Cooking Show.”
A Mad Tea Party show.
That’s what they are auditing me for?
Which brought me back to my initial reaction of “Why those $2@*%&-$!”
I instantly got on the phone.
“Yes. Your call may be monitored so be careful what you say Mr. DeSmit. How may we help you?”
“Uh, how did you know it was me?”
“We know everything. Get to the point.”
“I’m being audited because of a reference to Tea Party I made nearly three years ago. The reference was not to the political group but to the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland. It seemed pretty clear if you actually read the entire story.”
“I thought I warned you to be careful what you say,” the voice responded. “I thought I detected a tone there at the end. Now, Mad Hatter you say? Let me call up your file.”
I waited. Not long.
“Here it is. Yes, you are being targeted for an audit. A very thorough audit, if you get our drift. I mean, when we audit, we audit. Every nook and cranny, if you get our drift. Ever been to a proctologist? Hahahahahahaha!”
A shudder went through me.
“Because I talked about a Mad Hatter tea party?”
“Why no. Not at all. It clearly says you are one of those whiny ‘I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore’ tea party people. We know what a boolean search is, too, Mr. DeSmit. Mad & tea party. You’re a sick and dangerous man.”
I didn’t even ask how they already knew what I was writing before this was even printed.
“Well, ha, I think perhaps you should re-read my article and maybe take me off your audit list. I have never, ever been affiliated with ...”
“HOLD YOUR BREATH, Mr. DeSmit. Please stop wasting our time. We know who you are and what you do and we know. We just know. We will be in touch. Now good day, sir.”
Another shudder wracked my body.
I was being targeted!
I could think only of that quote from Alice: “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything could be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
I see. Perfectly too well, I see.
(Scott DeSmit is a general assignment reporter for The Daily News. He can be reached at email@example.com)