Ask Mrs. Vera: Why Are We Still Looking For Jimmy Hoffa?

Dear Mrs. Vera,

Why do we keep looking for the body of Jimmy Hoffa?

Eliot Ness

Mrs Vera with Turtle Necklace.

Mrs. Vera Newman,
San Francisco, California.
Photo: Cameron Wolf.

Oh, I get this question all the time – at least two or three times a week. The mailroom of Ask Mrs. Vera is a virtual fire hazard from such inquiries! Unfortunately, all these letters are from the same person and, even worse, are written on a very unattractive, out-of-date and soggy tartan stationary. On top of that, the envelopes are full of shortbread crumbs, which attract ants, and smeared with kippers and haggis stains to a very unprofessional degree. While I am happy to respond to readers wishing to protect their anonymity because of their professional failures or non-human origins, I must let my readers know they will be called out on any attempts to impersonate other people, as identity theft is an existential crime in my book, and I have little sympathy for someone who leaves an empty, soulless husk behind, rudely, with the possible exception being made if we are talking about Satan Corn.

I know I am not dealing with relentlessly driven F.B.I. agent Eliot Ness, because I recognize the perfume and super enormous fingerprints of the Loch Ness Monster all over this missive. Quit it. Just stop. Nessie, you are a terrible detective, who could not find your hat in a refrigerator. Why you continue to search for Mr. Hoffa is irrelevant, because you could not find a walnut if it was your brain. And stop stealing rowboats. Bad Monster!

But Nessie raises an interesting point, even if she does ruin a lot of furniture just by showing up to ask it. The quest for Jimmy Hoffa, his fate or his body, following the mysterious circumstances of his disappearance, around that time I was on that episode of Room 222 as a troubled inner-city Puerto Rican split-personality Florist/Guidance Counselor of Karen Valentine’s boyfriend’s sister, is all about closure. Mostly making sure whatever bag or container we are talking about stays closed. Nobody wants to watch CSI Detroit, let alone CSI Flint – there, I said it. Yet the desire to find out what really happened persists even if it turns out he’s under a pile of smelly letters in some advice column mailroom doing Sudokus™, or pushing daisies woven together to spell out a message pleading for help through the mail box slot constantly.

I actually met Mr. Hoffa, the notoriously allegedly light-fingered Union boss, once, shortly before he went missing, when I was working in Chicago as a manicurist in a cheap, dumpy Ramada Inn™ out by O’hare International, and he came in for a pedicure in a highly agitated state and bought a cosmetologist’s uniform and a wig from me nervously for what he said was a fancy dress party.  Then, right in the middle of getting his nails did, he suddenly leapt up, grabbed my toenail scissors and bolted out the back door just as seven burly men, none of whom had appointments, came into the salon. By the time I had finished with them they had all picked out some very adventurous colors indeed for their French tips, not really getting the idea of nude nail polish but looking pretty fun and flirty nonetheless, and left a lovely tip, along with a sack of concrete and some ammo.

If his life did end all those years ago, he could be anywhere by now, which is admittedly kind of exciting (especially if you live in, say, Alabama). Once those atoms disperse they just go everywhere and get on everything. Thanks to gravity, we can probably limit our search to the Earth itself.  We can safely rule out that he is on the moon, I think. Last time I was there, I certainly didn’t see him, and I looked.  It wasn’t very crowded, and if he had made a sound I’m sure I would have heard it. Every breath we take probably has a molecule of Alexander the Great, Mona Lisa and Jimmy Hoffa in it ‘they’ say, and only one of them was pro-union, which explains the sorry state of Labor as a political force in America, today. There remains a lot of nostalgia in our dystopic present for the quaint, old-timey notion that someone, even if it is just the 45 year-old, vagabond wailing banshee of a corpse, or possibly someone living as a retired librarian’s assistant in Tulsa, Oklahoma (probably with senile dementia by now), might be out there somewhere advocating for the rights of workers, for a longer coffee break. Maybe cat-calling any foxy ladies walking by for a better tomorrow, while passing out OSHA complaint forms to the fingerless. But Nostalgia is a weak substitute for Policy, especially if you are serving Tea at a party, in my book.

The sad, untimely death of actor James GandHofflini this week deepens the conspiracy theories associated with the long-unsolved case, but despite their uncanny physical similarities and their shared demeanors, the discrepancies in age alone rule out any suspicions of masquerading one might have, and thus bring us no closer to solving the riddle of the whereabouts of either Jimmy Hoffa or Gandalf the Ecru. The trail of clues to both these missing persons files dead ends at the gate to the Clorox™ Mansion in Beverly Hills, but no one answers when you ring the bell.

So many people will continue to look for Jimmy Hoffa for many various reasons, not the least of which being that they are simply too distracted to just look up at the sky to discover that he is there, obviously, in the third cloud group over, the one after the sailboat- and Snoopy-shaped clouds, and just above the one that looks like a bicycling ice cream cone, right next to the tiny fistful of flaming Twizzlers™. I, for one, know why I will never stop searching, until I find the notorious figure who has eluded every investigator without the commitment, stamina and luck I will continue to bring to bear on uncovering the location of Jimmy Hoffa. I won’t rest until I find him, because I want those Toenail Scissors back!


Vera with toys and greensMrs. Vera Newman is a San Francisco absurdist character, humorist, artist, writer, community organizer, clothes horse and co-founder, with Mister Tina, of The Verasphere. She has been answering the unasked questions she receives from the lonely, empty rooms of America’s heart-shaped circulatory pump room ever since it began beating. Nestled in the politically bent bowels of the Nation since she was a young girl babysitting the very same newborn Nation, her ability to self-reflect about anyone else’s embarrassing shortcomings, inept fumblings or lousy recipes has enabled her invisible rise as a modern-day Cassandra, whatever that means. Feel free to dispose of all your worries by leaving them on her doorstep!