My dear Hobson,
The bleak tone of your email has distressed me. You report waking on the morning of November 7 convinced that a vast majority of politicians—Republicans and Democrats—are certifiable lunatics. According to your somewhat incoherent letter—were you inebriated, or are all those sentence fragments and dangling prepositions the dismal product of your recently acquired university education?—you arrived at this conclusion by looking closely at the history of the last twelve years and our burgeoning national debt. How, you ask me, can we go on electing men and women, Republicans and Democrats, who clearly have no idea how to get a grip on the federal budget? Why, you wonder, can’t they understand that a few budgetary snips will make little difference in our plight? Why, you want to know, can’t we just admit we’re out of money?
For heaven’s sake, nephew, cut the hysterics and pull yourself together. Stop being such a naughty, negative boy: You’re worse than that brutish tyke in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” who spoiled all the fun of a parade. The Land of O, as I have affectionately dubbed our republic, O referring to Opportunity and not to our current pooh-bah, offers a young man with your high self-esteem, ossified brain, and gift for gab a plentitude of prospects for wealth and success. Yes, you are correct in your forecast that more storms are coming down the pike—higher taxes, higher unemployment, runaway inflation, massive defaults on student loans, and a whirlwind of other disasters. And yes, you’re correct about the current state of our wealth: The money is gone. We’ve fallen into a sinkhole of debt that makes the Grand Canyon look like a crack in the sidewalk.
But you are wrong, nephew, to believe that your own future is dead or that opportunities for young men like yourself no longer exist. The Land of O is the Golden Goose, El Dorado, the Old West, and Wall Street all rolled into one, and that fat goose is ready for the plucking by those with quick fingers, piratical spirits, and empty consciences. Here are some suggestions for making yourself a roaring success. Feel free to cast them aside, modify them, or best yet, create your own venue.
One: Drink more heavily. By ten o’clock every evening the haze of alcohol will convince you that all is well in the Land of O. Such libations will also erode that puritanical conscience of yours. Abandon the cheap beer of your recent college days and take up harder spirits. If you already have, then double down on the gin and lighten up on the tonic water. The following propositions will be more easily swallowed if washed down with copious amounts of booze.
Two: Allow your postelection despair free rein. Put your depression on public display at the office. (Hint: The heavy drinking will assist in this appearance of melancholia. A slice of onion stored in a plastic bag in the desk drawer will induce weeping.) Mutter to yourself at the water cooler. Stand before a window in the late afternoons and spend half an hour brooding on the wintry sky. Soon your despondency will be duly noted, and concerned friends and coworkers will find you psychiatric help. One thing will lead to another, and with any luck you will join the millions of Americans receiving disability. Who knows? By this date next year you may find yourself with the time and the money to winter in Jamaica.
Three: Move to Maryland, where voters have just legalized gay marriage. Seek out an older man with money and wed him. (Depending on your proclivities, you may need to increase that heavy drinking.) On the day following the nuptials, sue for divorce. Call a news conference and announce to the world that you have made an horrific mistake, that you are coming out of the closet, that you have realized postwedlock you are in reality heterosexual. Not only can you take your partner for a financial ride, but you will also establish state legal precedents and acquire the material to write a bestseller on gay divorce. Given the state of our culture, I have no doubt that the unusual circumstances of your turnabout will make you a minor celebrity. With some publicity, you may even be invited to make the rounds on the talk-show circuit. Make the most of your one-minute fling with fame.
Four: Your sea change will bring you a bevy of women. For whatever reason—I think it has to do with what the self-help crowd calls “listening skills”—many women enjoy the company and advice of gay men. You will intrigue such women by your switch-hitting and by their assumption of your sensitivity. (Tears are in order whenever you mentioned the crushed hopes of your former spouse.)
Marry one of these women. You may select your bride for her intelligence, her wit, the color of her eyes, or the cut of her jib, but above all be sure to ascertain that her bank account is as attractive as her soul and figure. No one can fault you for such a mercenary approach; you’re part of a national trend. After all, everyone on the left and on the right keeps jabbering about a “War on Women.” (Personally, I entertain some doubts regarding this war and the implied frailty of women. I am thinking of your great-grandfather, “Meatloaf” Comstock, who once mildly complained that his Sunday meatloaf needed more ketchup. Your great-grandmother whanged him upside the head with a bottle of Heinz and cackled, “There you go, Meatloaf.” Hence the unfortunate moniker.) You should feel no guilt in seeking a wealthy wife. Regard yourself as a foot soldier in the ongoing fray, good nephew, and join the battle.
Five: Continue drinking.
Six: Take the money from your divorce settlement, your talk shows, and your marriage, and purchase a hundred-thousand whirligigs—you know, those spinning propellers made for children. Immediately open a green business touting wind power. You’ll need a company name: “Leviathan,” I think, has a good lusty ring. Next, apply for government funding. Once the Land of O forks over the money, wait three or four weeks, and then declare bankruptcy. This tactic worked for a score of solar and wind companies in the last four years. Why shouldn’t you cash in? After you make the money, return to Jamaica for six months.
Seven: While on the island, acquire a deep tan. On your return home, declare yourself a minority. Meatloaf’s brother, “Petroleum Bob,” once worked for Shell Oil in Tehran, so perhaps it might be amusing to claim an Iranian heritage—at least until we bumble into war with that country. Select a name for yourself—how about Ali Akbar?—and then hit up the government for funds to buy a Gas & Go station. Recent statistics reveal that the Land of O is much more eager to assist immigrants than to help fuddy-duddy American natives. Take the loan, purchase the station, pump gas for a short time, and then rent out the station. If you locate the station in Colorado, you may also collect a tidy sum on the side selling recently legalized marijuana to visiting Californians in need of artificial relief from their own depressed economy.
Eight: You now have a substantial amount of money, property, and the option of retiring. Should you choose not to retire, select the likely winner of the next presidential race and donate $50,000 to his campaign fund. This sum will grease the right palms and win you a job. You might consider becoming one of the 16,000 new IRS agents being hired to manage the healthcare system. With this step, dear nephew, you’ve reached the big time: a government job. You’re set for life—until, of course, the whole system comes crashing down. Not only will you have gained security, but you can amuse yourself trotting about the countryside and scaring the hoot out of all those voters who made your success possible.
Congratulations. You’ve won the game. Things may get dicey at times, but you cannot win if you do not play. Besides, the rules are easier and the competition dumber than when you played Monopoly as a ten-year-old.
And keep up that drinking. It will hold the nightmares at bay—at least, while you are awake.
With warmest regards,
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