Sexiest Treasure Hunter Alive

Feb. 28 People MagazineWhen we returned to Philly last weekend, after spending a few fun-filled days skiing and Treasure Troving with the Mendes clan, the Feb. 28 issue of People Magazine was waiting by the front door. For once, just once, I leapt for it — knowing full well what was waiting inside. As I’ve said before, People is Ana’s version of bedtime crack. But to me, on this particular occassion, it held the cure to my recent bout of insomnia. A way to end the nightmares, the marital bickering over my newest hobby — in short, a quote from me in an article about “A Treasure’s Trove.”

Lemme explain …

Lately my dreams have been almost exclusively related to “A Treasure’s Trove.” The reoccurring one involves me finding the perfect knothole in a local park. The hole about eight feet above ground, so I have to reach up on tip-toe, and then hoist my body in a sort of chin-up exercise. Once I’m finally at eye-level, a shiny gold object glints in the moonlight, just below the edge of the hole. I pull myself up a little more, and then I see it: A bright, blinding safron hue. No, not the Gates. Something more along the lines of an atomic blast.

I’m blown free of the tree, my body swirling up in the air like a possessed snowflake, and the sonic blast from the hole booms out. It annihilates everything in its path, sort of like the Arc of the Covenant in “Indiana Jones.” Trees, forest creature, hobos in the park — all reduced to coffee grounds. And then I wake up. In my cold sweat, I look over to Ana, who, as always, is snoring soundly.

Before drifting back to sleep, I remind myself to say a little prayer. Initially it was, Please, just once, instead of radiating everything in Clark Park, let the nightmare reveal some clue about the treasure hunt. But recently, with Ana loosing all patience for the treasure hunting — instituting a “mandatory break period” and threatening to burn the book on a bi-weekly basis — I’ve come up with an alternate prayer: Please let me find some way to get her off my case, to have my wife come to peace with THE BOOK.

By some freak accident, the gods of AOL Time Warner decided to smile upon me two weeks ago. I got a call from Jennifer Frey, a reporter for People, who wanted to interview my about my wacky treasure hunting adventures (which, of course, she’d learned about from the blog and, the bulletin board I’ve been posting to). We talking for about an hour, mostly me spilling my guts: the ill-fated trip to Washington Square Park’s moon tree, the family bonding that has taken place with my brother and seventh cousin (Andy), and the inordinate amount of time I’m working on THE BOOK. “By my estimate,” I said, “I’m devoting well over 40 hourse per week — more than my day job. If I ever find one of these jewels, given the number of hours Ive spent, it’ll probably work out to about minimum wage.”

I told Jennifer that she was free to use this quote, to use anything I said, under one condition: “Make sure, please be sure, to reference me as Ted Mann, 27, husband of Ana Mendes, 27.” I also gave shout-outs to Doug and Andy, but maintained that “Ana, one ‘n,’ is the most important. Please don’t forget her.” The reason for this was, of course, that if Ana got into People, Id surely earn a stay of execution with the book for at least another six months. What girl wouldn’t give their right breast to get into People? I mean that literally (By my count, there have been six mastectomy stories this month).

So it was with some disappointment that I opened up to page 140 (right before the story about The Gates) to find that, while I had indeed been quoted, the name Ana Mendes had ended up on the editing room floor. Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled to be the only other person quoted in the story besides the author. But it’s just a shame that the piece had to be demoted from a feature to a one-page blurb, and I wished they’d picked a quote that didn’t make me sound retarded.

When my boss, Jerry, saw the quote — “The search ‘is addicting’ says fan Ted Mann, 27, of Philadelphia. ‘I’ve been doing it nonstop.'” — he immediately concluded that this meant I’ve been “doing it” on the job. Which admittedly is accurate, but not really the point, I told him. He conceded, “I guess you need something to fill the void left by wedding planning.” True dat!

As for Ana, the jury is still out on whether having a husband featured in People is actually a good thing. Its quite possible that getting a People quote before your wife, or without her, is the equivalent of a mass-media diss. One thing is for sure: The sighs over A Treasures Trove haven’t ceased. So for now — until I find a jewel, and Jennifer calls me for a follow-up story, and they add the Mendes-Manns to the 50 Most Beautiful People short list — my apocalyptic nightmares continue.

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