You know those sweet, toothless, double-wide dwelling hillbillies you see on newsmagazine reports who’ve gotten scammed out of their life savings?

As an extraordinarily compassionate human being, I used to cluck my tongue at these tragic situations and think, how sad that these idiots are foolish enough to hand their money over to some grifter. How ironic that they’re too clueless to see through the ludicrous promises of extravagant returns. How pathetic that they’re reckless enough to trust someone they barely know.

And as a benevolent and empathetic soul, my heart would break for these boobs.

And then I met Lloyd Belsmack (named changed to protect the guilty).

Lloyd is a commercial real estate developer who my sister – in her kind and trusting naiveté – got us involved with. Together with a couple other investors, we bought a piece of commercial property with the intent of building office condos.

Six years later, we’re nearing a trial date against Lloyd – and his posse of degenerate cohorts – for a scam that has cost us in the neighborhood of a half million dollars. And I’ve come to realize that: a) not everyone who gets swindled is a cousin-humping mouth-breather; b) they are, and I might as well buy a home with a steering wheel in the living room, knock out some molars and start humming the Deliverance theme, because I’m one of them; or c) even reasonably savvy folk can lose their shirt in a con.

Oprah’s Lifeclass topic the other night was on the power of forgiveness. Which was particularly ironic given that I’d written the latest $5,000 check to our attorney that day. Although I no longer spend countless hours envisioning Lloyd dying in a fiery – and highly entertaining – car crash, having to constantly deal with the court case, and having our (albeit wonderful) attorney attach an industrial vacuum to my savings causes the issue of forgiveness to continually to rear its ugly head.

Oprah says that forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could be any different. In other words, it’s the process of accepting that something happened exactly as it did.

But here’s the thing: when I first met Lloyd, my intuition – what I like to refer to as God whispering in my ear, although, since I’m deaf in one ear, I always hope he remembers to whisper into the right one – was screaming at me that there was something fishy about this guy. But, I didn’t listen.

So I guess I’ve had a little trouble accepting that things happened the way they did, because I’m mad that I didn’t listen to myself. If I could just get Doc to fire up the DeLorean and take me back to the future of 2005, I could save my sister and I a world of pain.

I’m really not angry at Lloyd anymore. I view him simply as the messenger of the lesson of forgiveness. (Don’t get me wrong, we still hope to have him living in a Kenmore box by the time we’re done, so that he doesn’t do this to anyone else.)

The thing that’s weird is that, apparently, it’s not really even Lloyd that I ever had to forgive…it’s myself. And that’s one bastard that REALLY doesn’t deserve it.