Tuesday, September 23, 2008
The Party's Over
I've been sick for the last few days, so I've been following the stock market's demise from home.
I honestly don't think I could help much anyway.
It's not like some old football movie, where the injured player rushes to the coach at a critical point in the game and cries, "you gotta let me play!"
No, I thinking more of one of my father's lines, when he was really beat or fed up and he'd say in a bogus brogue, "Take me out, coach, I've had enough!"
I started feeling lousy on Friday, so I stayed in the entire weekend, thinking I'd beat this thing by resting.
But then Monday morning rolled around and I woke up with a headache worthy of a three-day bender. Only there was no bender to justify this misery, which makes me really angry.
It felt like someone had driven a railroad spike into the side of my head.
I usually fight going to the doctor, resisting until my friends and family are ready to drag me there, but this time I made the decision myself, and rather quickly, too. I needed something for the pain.
I've got some kind of sinus infection, so my doctor recommended plenty of liquids and--thank you so much--a prescription, which I promptly got filled at a drug store a block away from his office.
This place is one of the few independent pharmacies left and the owner is apparently a gun lover, judging from the NRA sign on the front door and the copies of American Rifleman that were kept near the counter.
While I waited for my prescription to be filled, I read about the joys of shooting various large animals to death. I guess you can sell medicine to heal people and love killing things in your spare time, but it seems a little odd to me.
"How to Bring One Down!" one headline shrieked from the cover. I'm not sure what particular hapless beast the "one" was referring to, but I was feeling so lousy at that moment that someone could have brought me down with a rolled up magazine.
The people behind the counter seemed very nice, gun magazines notwithstanding, and I cheerfully popped my first pill as soon as I got out of the store and swallowed it sans water.
I must have looked like some Fifties movie junkie desperate for a fix, but I didn't care. My head was killing me.
I live alone in the family house and while I was stretched out in bed, I thought of how my mother used to take care of me when I was a kid. I couldn't swallow aspirin whole back then so she'd mash it up and mix with applesauce.
I'd be there in bed and I'd hear her coming--tick-tick-tick--as she used the spoon to mass the aspirin and mix it up so I wouldn't taste it.
Invariably there was one decent sized piece that had her escaped her notice and I'd bite into and wince--yuk!
Still it was nice to be pampered. I didn't mind being sick back then because it passed quickly and it got me out of school. And I had my mother to take care of me. I remember how much I enjoyed Robert Louis Stevenson's poem, The Land of Counterpane, about a boy who turns his sick bed into an imaginary world.
"When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day."
I half-expected (wished?) to see my mother yesterday when I woke up from one of my naps, coming toward me with the plate in hand--tick-tick-tick.
But now I'm an adult, more or less, and I have to fend for myself. I'm listening to the radio and hearing how Wall Street is going through these tremendous changes, how brokerages that have been around for years are disappearing or being bought or becoming bank holding companies.
The whole financial landscape is changing so quickly and radically. I guess these "financial professionals" weren't as smart as they thought they were.
I'm hearing about bailouts and cries of "cash for trash." I'm hearing about a three-page document that will apparently give the Treasury Secretary unlimited power in his bid to clean up this toxic financial mess. Only there is no guarantee that he will succeed.
The rush job bothers me, because I recall how this country was stampeded into approving the Patriot Act and the Disaster in Iraq, and golly, they turned out so well, didn't they?
I haven't even looked at the state of my own financial holdings. That's probably not smart, but there's not much I can do about it and I already know what a downward pointing arrow looks like. I don't need to see any more.
I should come up with some kind of plan for my savings, but for now I'm going to resort to the old childhood method and hide my head under the covers.
When I was a kid and I did something really awful, like made one of my siblings cry, my mother would put her hands on her hips and announce so the whole world could hear, "well, I hope you're satisfied!"
Oh, God, that was the worst! There was something about that phrase and the way my mom said it that made me feel like Hitler. I think I actually shrank a few inches in an effort to escape her wrath and my guilt.
The thing was, I knew she was right. Whatever I did was wrong and she knew just what to say to drive that point home. Even now I cringe at the memory of those words.
Too bad my mom isn't around today. I'd like to get all these Wall Street high rollers and their enablers in Congress together in one room and let her deliver her famous line: "well, I hope you're satisfied!" The whole pack of them would run screaming out into the street.
It's time to take your medicine, boys. And I'm afraid we're all out of applesauce.