I suppose it all began twenty-five years ago, when I returned home from my first day of kindergarten without my trousers. I did have the rather vague notion they’d been traded to some classmate, but I couldn’t remember what had been given to me in exchange, nor did I seem to have anything in my possession that hadn’t already belonged to me when I’d left for school, a younger and happier child, at nine that morning. Nor was I sure of the identity of the con infant who had done me in, so that neither he nor my trousers were ever found. From that day forward my life has been an endless series of belated discoveries. Con men take one look at me, streamline their pitches, and soon go gaily off to steak dinners while poor Fred Fitch sits at home and once again dines on gnawed fingernails. I have enough worthless receipts and bad checks to paper my living room, I own miles of tickets to nonexistent raffles and ball games and dances and clambakes and shivarees, my closet is full of little machines that stopped working miracles as soon as the seller went away, and I’m apparently on just about every sucker mailing list in the Western Hemisphere. I really don’t know why this should be true. I am not the typical mark, or victim, not according to Reilly or to all the books I’ve read on the subject. I am not greedy, nor uneducated, nor particularly stupid, nor an immigrant unfamiliar with the language or customs. I am only–but it is enough–gullible.