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spacer January 2000

As the Faux Millennium approached and the Contra guys reviewed every prophesy since the distant past, they decided that no sacred cows should be left unturned.

So, feeling worn with fatigue and as reality moved towards sheer absurdity and back to sheared reality, they homed in on a strategy, which, while not consistent with all their philosophies, seemed a surefire way to make money in a world without any guarantees.

Here’s what was said, although the names have been changed to protect the anonymity of both Ben and Benj.

Harry: Might be real difficult to beat the markets after the millennium. Sure has been harder this millennium than last.

Gus: Yeah, seems that every millennium is more complicated. Just think, once upon a time all you had to do was bet on fire, and you were a sure winner.

Harry: I remember that mania. But when everyone was betting on fire, I went short.

Gus: Short? You shorted fire?! I didn’t know that. If I’d known that, I’d never have been your partner.

Harry: Made a fortune. Absolute.

Gus: Don’t believe it. You must have gotten burned on that one.

Harry: Oh Gus. That’s brutal. No, I really made a fortune.

Gus: Promoter talk. Don’t believe it.

Harry: Here’s how I did it. When everyone was getting high on coconut spread and looking at the trees for more, I doused the fire with water. That sent everyone into a tizzy and dancing around and screaming and wondering why the powers that be had done such a thing and they cowered and waited for the end of the world. Meanwhile, fire sank on the market like stone did a few years before. When fire was just about bankrupt, I covered my position and then went long.

Gus: Long now? You’re nuts.

Harry: Not at all. I went into my little, very secret hiding place, pulled out an ember, gathered around me my bevy of beauties in their leopard skins and announced, “FIRE OVERCOMES WATER!!!”Everyone hopped on the old bandwagon again and I made zillions.

Gus: Zillions?

Harry: Yeah, zillions. Zillions of grains of sand. That was the currency in those days. Unfortunately there was a massive devaluation a few years later as the ice age retreated and more sand was uncovered. So much for hard currency. Of course, this was before paper and gold were even a glint in the human psyche.

Gus: No Kleenex? Yeesh. Wait. I thought you never shorted anything? Ever.

Harry: Hey, once a millennium I look for a good short to tide me over for the next thousand years or so. Think I got one now.

Gus: Let me guess. You think that now that Nasdaq stocks have joined the Dow and since these were going up and up and up, this is a time of reckoning and you’re shorting the whole kit and caboodle because this change of psychology is unprecedented and akin to shoe shine boys talking about the price of Venator?

Harry: Venator?

Gus: You know. The old Woolworth’s guys. A major marketing move to go from a name that everyone recognizes to one that people ask, “What’s a Venator?”

Harry: Not so fast, my run-on friend. I’m definitely talking about something everyone knows. A new IPO.

Gus: You know that historically about 80 percent of initial public offerings trade at less than their initial sell value one year later?

Harry: Yeah, whatever. This one’s different. It features Ms. Martha Stewart.

Gus: You don’t mean the Martha Stewart — the goddess beyond goddesses?

Harry: The very same. I’m going to short Martha Stewart.

Gus: That’s absurd! Martha has never lost anything except perhaps one failed marriage. And of course that wasn’t her fault at all. Let’s face it, who can live with the ideal of perfection every day? It isn’t human. Nope, Marthais planted the seeds and her stock will be a rave success.

Harry: Not so fast. What is the Martha Stewart company without Martha Stewart? Nothing. She can tape all of the videos in advance, freeze all the fine meals she wants, but if this babe ain’t around, the company will drop faster than you can say “Fruit of the Loom.”

Gus: But Martha is young and vivacious and in fine health.

Harry: Today.

Gus: You aren’t suggesting?

Harry: I am.

Gus: But who would do it?

Harry: Well, you remember when Martha came out, so did the World Wrestling Federation. Let’s just say that those guys feel that Martha put them in a full nelson, drop-kicked them when they weren’t looking, and gave them an airplane spin.

Gus: They weren’t happy?

Harry: Vowed revenge.

Gus: That is sinister. Who will do it? Stone Cold? Hulk? The Rock?

Harry: It’s more complex even than that. You see, there is the battle between the Forces of Darkness and the Forces of Light, the Ministry and the Corporation and who knows who else. Plus Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling wasn’t so keen on the Martha move, either. Rumour has it that Jane was planning a video of tomahawk chops with Martha on the receiving end to spur the plan into motion, but since Ted and Jane split to save their marriage, that plan’s been ix-nayed.

Gus: But the Federations and Forces and all of those wouldn’t get together on this, would they?

Harry: Did.

Gus: So you shorted the stock.

Harry: Did. Now this isn’t public news yet, but just you wait, after Martha has been taken care of, merger is in the air. Wrestling will become one.

Gus: This is incredibly nefarious. But you didn’t answer the question. Stone Cold? Hulk? The Rock?

Harry: Sometimes I wonder about you. None of the above. it’s too dangerous for any of their own to engage in such actions. They need an outsider.

Gus: I get it. But who?

Harry: Sable.

Gus: Sable? But they hate her now. They feel her overexposure was not done in their best interests.

Harry: Remember — these guys think long term. Expelling Sable from the Federation and this lawsuit stuff — consider it all to be showmanship.

Gus: Showwomanship.

Harry: Whatever. Remember, the Coco is nothing without the bonk.

Gus: Right Bobo. And Sable will do this?

Harry: Absolutely. She never liked Martha. You know Sable wanted to go public and she had this huge plan to use her share of the proceeds to open a shelter for homeless dogs. But all the big industry players said, ican’t do with Marthais shares coming out of the closet.i Sable feels Martha stole her puppies. This is get even time.

Gus: Nasty. So you short the stock, Sable does Martha, the stock plummets and then what?

Harry: Well, Sable hires F. Lee Bailey to defend her, he pieces together a team, the trial takes three months and is followed every day in the press, and she gets off because the only link to the murder is a two-inch-heeled shoe, and everyone knows that Sable prefers stilettos.

Gus: No glove?

Harry: No. That’s a cliche now. They do play the “blondist”angle, though, and all those hard-pressed blondes rally behind her. Even the Cheez Whiz peroxides.

Gus: Brilliant. And I suppose she starts a clothing line and we see her different apparel every day in the courtroom and it sells like crazy.

Harry: Now you’re thinking. It’s not a Ford Bronco, but very, very promising. In the meantime, we’ve bought WWF stock.

Gus: Wwwwhhhhyyyy?

Harry: Because after this is all over, Sable rejoins the WWF and everyone wants to see her in the flesh and buy their very own life-sized Sable doll with all the accessories!

Gus: Beautiful. Maybe it’s time for another investment in the apparel sector. Can’t get scared off because of one or two bad plays.

Harry: Precisely. And now that I see you’re in the ring, letis put the plan into action. First, let’s give Martha a call.

Gus: Why? That would be giving a lead! It makes no sense!

Harry: Sure it does. You and I both know that plans work better when they’re personal. We’ve got to make this like a personal vendetta against her. We call, then she doesn’t return our call and it becomes personal. See what I mean? Now let me just — Hello, Martha? Oh, she’s not in. Pity.

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