The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by Josh Nossiter
The Morning Mendacity
Friday, April 15th, 2005
The Nossiter Net is cast  to snare some of  the riper rascalities of the day.  Comments?
Who knew?  Bill Gates, net worth of $48 billion, plays bridge with Warren Buffet, net worth of $41 billion.*  It was in last Sundayís New York Times**, so it must be true.  In fact, reports the paper of record, on his last bridge outing to Omaha, Bill had to take a cab to the airport because Warren couldnít figure out his own carís security system.  Maybe his friends could organize a whip-around and hire him a driver.

But who are the other two bridge players?  Even two multi-deca-billionaires canít play by themselves.  The answer to that question is a closely guarded secret, which this page, after paying heavy bribes, amounting to $5.50 worth of coffee and donuts and a 1969 Curt Flood baseball card (the bribee, ground floor barber of Berkshire Hathaway headquarters in Omaha, prefers to remain anonymous),  is in a position to reveal.

Lest there by any doubt that the bridge partners of two such unimaginably rich men hold their fellow players in awe, Shirley Fenstermaker will dispel them.  Ms. Fenstermaker, head manicurist at Avaís Salon and Spa, 150 Main St., Omaha, NE., has painted many a nail, trimmed many a cuticle.  Life holds few mysteries for her.  Interviewed by this page in her salon redolent of nail polish remover, Ms. Fenstermaker, a cheerful woman of ample proportions and vivid red hair, was very precise on what it is like to play bridge with two of the richest men in history.

ďBill has very ragged fingernails.  I mean, he probably chews them, know what Iím saying?  And his nails have those little white lines in them.  That can mean heís got liver troubles. But all he ever drinks at bridge is water.  Tap water.  And he never eats the nougat crunch and candied almonds.  So maybe the white lines in his nails are from something else.  Chewing canít be good, right?  His wife should say something.  Warren now, heís got beautiful nails.  Perfect.  I do them myself.  I canít say nothing about their toes.  They never take their shoes and socks off.  Sometimes I sit there, especially when Iím dummy, wondering what their toenails look like.  Kinda fascinating, isnít it?Ē

Asked what they talked about at their bridge games, Ms. Fenstermaker reports that nails and their care is the principal topic.

Ms. Fenstermakerís insights inspired this page to seek out the fourth member of the Omaha bridge brigade, a prominent local accountant, Herbert  Ledger.  Mr. Ledger is a small, balding man with prominent eyes and a nervous tic in his right cheek.  Reluctant to speak to us at first, Mr. Ledger soon opened up after a little conversation about the Alternative Minimum Tax.

ďNow Warren, he always sends his tax business to H&R Block.  He figures he saves money by using the local H&R Block office, and you know what?  He probably does. I always tell him to bring his business to me, a friend, but he says my fees are too expensive.  I ask you, too expensive!  I mean, $41 billion earns almost $4,000 a minute invested at 5%, and I charge $120 to do a complex return.  Thatís less than two seconds interest for Warren, but heís right:  I am more expensive than H&R Block.  Gates?  Oh, he pays millions to his tax attorneys.  They probably save him tens of millions, so he comes out ahead, but I donít worry too much about Billís financial situation.Ē

Whatís on the minds of the two richest men in history? Taxes, reports Mr. Ledger.  The very rich may be different from you and me, as F. Scott Fitzgerald insisted, but on April 15th we all have at least one thing in common.


©Joshua C. Nossiter, 2005
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