John Mertus 9 Horsford Ave Rumford, RI 02916
Dec 10, 1989
c/o Miami Herald
1 Herald Plaza
Miami, Florida, 33132
Dear Mr. Barry, A few weeks ago my wife and I had our second child. To pass the time at the hospital during labor, I purchased your latest book, in hardback no less, Dave Barry's GREATEST HITS. I began to read it to my wife in between contractions. Needless to say, we all found it very funny. It was so funny that I continued to read it out loud during the entire labor. I was cracking up, the nurses were laughing, the obstetrician was laughing and almost dropped the baby. Even the baby was laughing. The only one who wasn't was my wife whose rude screams often interfered with my readings and who even modern medicine could not shut up. You are right when you said that women in labor have NO sense of humor.
But this letter is not to tell you that we found the book very funny or that you were right about women in labor. It seems that your name came up during our divorce proceeding when her lawyer cited my reading of it as an example of my INSENSITIVITY. Once again this letter is not to tell you about those messy proceedings. I'm sure you know all about such being the person you are. However, after my wife was awarded everything including my Roberto Clemente foul ball I caught in 1970 in old Forbes field, my lawyer asked if there was any warning on the book about reading aloud while wife is delivering. I said no, at least if there was, it was not in a prominent place. His reply "This is going to cost Mr. Barry a lot, at least $300,000."
Well, I was all set to get all the compensation I was entitled to under the law when, having a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics, I computed how much of your $300,000 I would receive. It came to this:
Mr. Barry's legal costs $60.000
Mr. Barry's appeal costs $40,000
My legal costs $100,000
My lawyer's contingency fees $100,000
It seems to me that we are getting, to put it bluntly, screwed. So I've enclosed a self addressed stamped envelope and if you cheerfully refund the cost of the book, $19.95, I'll forget about the whole thing. You will have saved enough money to put your son through three years of college (one if he goes to Brown Univeristy), and we will both come out ahead.
Hoping to hear from you soon.
John Mertus, #810743 ACI Cranston, RI 02911
May 22, 1992
Dave Barry c/o Miami Herald 1 Herald Plaza Miami, Florida, 33132
Dear Mr. Barry, A while back I wrote you a letter requesting $19.95 and I thank you for your prompt response and payment. However, when I told my lawyer, Vince "slimy" Funghi, about the deal I struck with you, he began to turn various shades of colors and started mumbling things about "restricting free trade" and "depriving the needy." When he recovered, he threw me out saying that I would hear from him.
A few weeks later I was in court again being sued for the money my ex-lawyer could have earned had I not deprived him of his civil rights and talked to you directly. (Ex-lawyers are almost as bad as ex-wives.) I may have been able to win the case, but I had to argue it myself. For when I went to hire a lawyer, he expressed a great deal of interest until he learned my wife had everything and I couldn't pay. The public defender said, "Look, I've represented rapists, mass murderers, child molesters and even other lawyers, but I have a code of ethics and must draw the line at representing someone who did the heinous things you did."
During the trial, Judge Guido "grumpy" Funghi, was very nice to me and advised me on some of the more subtle aspects of the law like how to request a recess when something important comes up; for example, the ice cream truck arriving in the parking lot. (He also advised me on what type of ice cream he likes.)
After hearing all the arguments, he handed down his decision saying that although he understood my ingorance of the law what I did "posed more of a threat to the fiber of America than cocaine, AIDs or My Little Pony dolls combined." Judge Funghi show his leniency in sentencing me to only 10 years out of a possible 25 for violating my lawyer's rights remarking "some of the fault must rest with that Mr. Barry for agreeing to such activities; I hope he comes before me some day."
Judge Funghi also praised Vince Funghi stating: "It make me proud to know there are men in Rhode Island, who knowing that Mr. Mertus cannot pay any damages, would spend their valuable time and effort to rid the streets of such criminals. For such selfless services, I am going to nominate you for the 1992 Rhode Islander of the Year award."
I am writing because Vince "slimy" Funghi agrees to drop the charges if you would please send him a check for $100,000 made payable to Funghi, Funghi, Funghi & Spawn, Complete Legal Services and Trash Removal. That might seem like a lot but let me remind you that you still are coming out almost $200,000 ahead.
Also, notice my change of address, to ACI (Adult Correctional Institution) c/o Joey "dopey" Funghi, Warden. Although in Rhode Island, persons convicted of crimes against the society are not to receive any outside communication, Warden Funghi is very enlightened and often reads the prisoners their mail after the weekly floggings on Fridays.
Hope to hear from you VERY soon.