I hope everyone is doing well today despite the state of our economy. If it makes you feel better just know that you’re not the only ones feeling the pinch. I’m sure you’ve heard about the financial ruin that has befallen companies like Bear/Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, A.I.G., Bank of America, Citigroup, IndyMac, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and even Freedom Bank, so clearly you’re not alone. And don’t think those companies don’t appreciate the fact that you all are willing to pay some increased taxes to help them recover. And, if you ever find yourself in need of a loan to pay those taxes, not to worry. Just as soon as the C.E.O.’s take their cut and stash it in their tax-free accounts in the Bank of Bermuda, they’ll be more than happy to loan you what’s left of your own money at a reasonable interest rate.
But no matter what happens, there are always the eternal economic optimists that say that this economic downturn is all in our heads which is kind of true. Anybody who’s seen It’s a Wonderful Life knows that a few financially skittish types can start a full-fledged run on a humble savings and loan. In the movie, George Bailey was saved by an Angel named Clarence, and you can’t spell “bailout” without “Bailey.” And this is our chance as taxpayers to earn our wings by bailing out these humble, Mom and Pop institutions. Remember folks, every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings, and every time the closing bell rings on the New York Stock Exchange, an angel hits a power line.
Besides, you really don’t have a choice; look how not paying taxes turned out for Wesley Snipes.
You see, me, I’m an optimist. While everybody else was complaining about high gas prices, I was filling up my Focus with Premium. I was just amazed that somebody was still making the stuff, and I certainly didn’t want it to sit there in the underground tanks, go stale and lose all of its octane. And besides, look at gas prices now; they’ve come down, haven’t they? After being punched in the face with four-dollar-a-gallon-gas for so long, doesn’t it feel good now that we’re just being slapped?
Still other people say that the value of the dollar is falling; I say it’s just resting. Laying low for a while like it did back in 1987 when it got sick of being used to buy Hypercolor T-shirts and Jenga. Nevertheless, the current state of the U.S. dollar has kept a lot of Americans from participating in that most American of traditions: The Vacation. Back when I was a kid and gas was 65 cents a gallon, my parents took me on several summer vacations, but, despite their best efforts, I always found my way home (Rimshot). So I was never a big fan of traveling when I was a kid. Like a rabbit, most times I found it was safest to stay perfectly still.
From what I understand, regular people love vacations, but, thanks to a wonky economy those same families are forced to stay home for their vacations. This situation has also introduced a new word into our vocabulary: “Stay-cation,” which sounds much better than my phrase: “The Holi-Don’t.” However, since I’d like to promote my word, I plan to use it liberally.
Now, a lot of people are upset that they can’t afford to travel, but, as I mentioned, I’m an optimist, and I say that everything that costs money and requires travel can be done right here at home. For instance, camping is very inexpensive if you do it right. Now, I’m not talking about renting a cabin in the woods. That’s not camping; that’s just a bad hotel. And I’m also not talking about an R.V., and I’m not really sure where the R.V. falls in the realm of the Holi-don’t. On one hand, you are staying home, but on the other hand, the home isn’t staying put. Either way you look at it though, you aren’t camping.
I’m talking about a tent, a sleeping bag, a can of beans and some firewood. Once upon a time, I used to love camping, but at some point, and I don’t know when it happened, I turned a corner. I now no longer enjoy falling asleep in a 100-degree tent with mosquitoes that are large enough to require mid-air refueling and waking up on the ground covered in a film that is three parts sweat, two parts insect repellent and one part campfire smoke. But that is not to say that you won’t enjoy it.
Now, onto everyone’s favorite American pastime: The Baseball Game. Now, you might be thinking: “Wait a minute, Dylan, it costs money to go to a Milwaukee Brewer game,” and you would be right, but I didn’t say “A Brewer Game,” I said “a baseball game.” Last I checked, Little League games were free. Why not take a grill, some brats and a quarter barrel and do some hard-core tailgating at your neighborhood Little League diamond. Perhaps you like a little higher level of competition. I which case, there’s always high school baseball.
Many current baseball stars were once area high school players, most notably Brewer utility infielder Craig Counsell. Now I’m not one to drop names like pennies at a parking meter, but Craig and I played area high school baseball at the exact same time. I haven’t talked to Craig recently, but that’s probably only because, back then, we never actually met. You see, Craig played for Whitefish Bay which is in the North Shore Conference while I played for Rufus King which is in the City Conference. With all due respect to the North Shore Conference, I think the City Conference was definitely tougher.
On the fields in the North Shore Conference with a pop fly, your average center fielder would have to judge the arc of the ball, the wind speed, wind direction and so on. On the M.P.S. fields, your average center fielder would have to judge all of those things plus he had to negotiate the rusted-out Oldsmobile Cutlass. In the North Shore Conference the infielders would occasionally get a bad hop off the lip of the grass or a stone in the dirt. In the City Conference, the bad hops often caromed off of an actual body. But what’s more important in the grand scheme of things, turning a double play or solving a cold case?
Those are just two ideas for the Holi-Don’t and don’t hesitate to add a few ideas of your own. And don’t worry too much about the economy, folks. Maybe we weren’t as rich as we thought, but we’re still as rich as we are, and we Americans have overcome much worse. In the meantime remember the words of Clarence the Angel from It’s a Wonderful Life when he said: “Remember, George, no man is a failure who has friends.” And then he hit a power line.