(noun, etymology Dutch from ‘boedel’: estate, possession, inheritance, stock.). 1. Crowd, pack, lot, as in ‘the whole boodle.’ 2. a. Counterfeit money b. Money acquired or spent illegally or improperly, particularly when used in bribery for political purposes. 3. Slang for money in general.

Out of the Blues and Into the Black (Hey-Hey-My-My)

Posted on: Feb. 28, 2012  |  By: Ronnie Kahn  |  Category: General

A Story of How to Optimize Children and Increase Profits

I have no evidence for my conspiracy theory that my children are out to get me.  There seems to be something dastardly in their eye on the oft chance that they look at me, which is rare these days.  What would cause them to avoid eye contact with their own flesh and blood?  I decided to go down to the basement to see if they had set up manacles welded to the wall where they would keep me when I become too feeble to cry out.  Then, I realized, we really don’t have a basement.

For months now, since they are older and about ready to strike out on their own, I noticed that I wax between two extremes in their eyes.  On one hand, I am parenta-non-grata meaning that I am treated like a chipped plate buried underneath the everyday plates that are used first.  The other side of the equation is that I am considered irrelevant.  I often hear the chant of “why would I say such a thing” whereas they think that, in the real world, anyone would know the deliberate inanity that I keep spewing out.  For my side, my objections are more practical.  I complain that the kids of today are multi-texters.  Anything can be done, they insist condescendingly, in conjunction with texting at the same time without any drop off in efficiency.  Of course one could text while stitching up a wound.  It is not illegal they note.

The best defense is an offense.   I decide to get this out in the open.  Helicopter parents, obese children, parents as friends to their children, BMW crashing high school kids, redshirting*, soccer moms, family values in the crapper;  these are all part of what ails us today.  It’s not the economy, oil prices, or suicide bombers but awful parenting and more awful kids that are killing us.  What this household needs, any household really needs, is to be run by the only thing that works anymore in this world.  This house is now going to be run like a business.  We need profits, competitiveness, creativity, productivity gains, and efficiency.  The solution to the problem is:  we need the free market.

The first response from both my daughter and son is the irrelevant track:  “Daddy, you’re too old to be having a mid-life crisis.”  Nothing could be more straightforward, I explain, than running this home like we would run a business, which would keep favoritism and corruption off the table.  “This will be better for both of you in the long-run and it will bring us closer together as a family.”  My son whines that ” this isn’t fair.”  “That’s right” I say, “it’s laissez-faire,” as I enjoy my witty come-back.  “Don’t you read about the free-market in school?”  In what seems to be ignorance or bad humor, my son questions that if markets were free, how would the grocery stores make any money?   Only a half-socialist society, he figures, would have soup kitchens and day-old bread stores that just give it away.  How can he be so smart and so stupid at the same time?  This is what happens when you allow a child to start watching The Simpsons three times a day starting at age eight.

Since irrelevance would be next on the agenda, I had to create a motivation for taking this seriously.  “You kids have had it too easy for too long.  You two have run up the deficit where I don’t see how we’ll ever get back into the black.  If you want to continue to go to college or grad school, you have to be worth the investment.  I want a detailed business plan for how you plan on using my capital investment in you two loss leaders.  The first order of business is that we’re going to military time.  We will reconvene here at 0-800 for each of you to present your plan; otherwise I am not going to continue putting good money after bad. You may think you have been living here on a cruise ship but if I don’t see that plan, this will be your Titanic.”

I am really not that tough but drastic situations call for drastic actions.  I may live to regret this or I may not live at all if my conspiracy theory turns into actual deed.  I hope the ambulance will get here in time when they try to murder me while I’m watching CSI on the couch.  If I hear it faintly in the distance, I am sure I will be able to hold on until the EMT’s get here.  I always imagine an ambulance to sound like those old European war movies.  Wouldn’t it be weird if that was the last thing I heard on this Earth?  Oh, if I survive though, how these kids will be mine after that.  Just one look at me and they will know to wait on me hand and foot for the rest of my days.  If the guilt doesn’t get them, the threat of incarceration will.  Yet, if they do succeed, I hope these kids realize how much regret they’ll feel for doing me in.  I am still haunted to this day about the time I almost took out my friend’s eye with a Frisbee.  That was just because he wasn’t’ looking and I was fooling around (my Jewish mother called it Komandaving) but this is premeditation.  It’s unforgiveable and that’s not just because Freud says so.  Like suicide, there has to be a special place in Purgatory for those who kill their father.

The next day, I was soon to realize that I had awoken a sleeping giant baby.  It was game on.  My daughter came first.  She fired an opening salvo as if to say that she was giving me one last chance to back off otherwise I would be out of my league.  This was chess.  She could see many moves ahead and I was not at my best with the “she thinks that I think that we think” stuff.  “Before you get up all ‘The Donald’ on us Dad, is this like your last scheme where we were going to run the house on vegetable turds?”  Well, laugh all she wanted to.  Waste-to-Energy is a legitimate and growing field.  They probably laughed at Friar What’s-His-Name and now half of the West Coast is fermenting wines.

Just then, in walks a young man dressed in a perfectly fitted expensive suit with each hair on his head in perfect order.  “Who the hell are you?” I demanded.  The Suit Boy confidently stared me in the eye and told me that he represented my son and his interests, whatever that meant.  “I wondered if I could take you to lunch and we could discuss this so that everyone could come to an understanding of what might work in our situation.”  I was at a loss for words and stammered out “Our situation?… He’s hired a lobbyist?”  “Well, that is not the term I prefer but you said you wanted this to work as the business world does, and this is exactly how it is done.” It was obvious that Suit Boy was trying to act elegant beyond-his-years.  I had nothing.  I needed to reload.  “I will get to you in a minute,” I sniped and turned to my daughter and asked what she had come up with?  She handed me some tacky computer replicated stock certificate where she had superimposed her face over an existing company logo.  It seems she was now a corporation.  No doubt she thought this would shield her from any liability.  I asked wryly what her company did but she only answered the question indirectly.  “They’re common stock shares, Daddy.  You said you want to know that your investment in me will pay off.  Well, I took that same concept and I have sold shares in myself.  It’s a great opportunity to buy in now, while prices are low.  Someday, when I have found my calling, these shares could be worth a pretty penny.  All of my friends loved the idea.”  I wouldn’t let her get me off focus.  “This is not what a business plan looks like.  Where is the product, the marketing, the distribution methods?  You’ve put the cart before the horse; you can’t just issue stock first and then create value later on. “She rolled her eyes and peevishly said “you either want to buy some shares or not, Dad.  It is your right to say ‘no’ although what would it show my friends if I can’t get support from my own Father.”

These evasions and diversions were designed to throw the whole concept back in my face.  I can see through this ruse, like when you open a pot store, you can claim you care about healthcare but we know that you just want to get high.  Meanwhile, Suit Boy was becoming impatient.  “Your son wanted me to pass along this message.  Your son says that the bane to a free market is too many rules and regulations.  He feels that you need to stop trying to set limits on his driving and leisure time.  He says it makes him more creative and a more valuable commodity when he has had time to unwind.”  Here it was.  He was using the problem in order to leverage an advantage; using the free market to get his way.  Playing the libertarian card though, that was just plain dirty.  “You tell my son that his whole life has been in ‘unwind.’  When does he get to wind, anyway?”  Never mind.  “Don’t tell him that, tell him I want him here now or else…”

A few minutes later, my son arrived with a phony look on his face of patience and understanding.   He waved for Suit Boy to leave the room.  “All these years you’ve run our house like a Plutocracy, father, and I think it is a little venal to ask for a kickback now, if that is what this is all about?”  Who talks like this and has he been texting this whole time?  “I know that you say one thing but underneath you mean another,” he continued.  “Now that you are getting older, you are worried that you will be ignored and just tossed out.  But, you know, Death is inevitable but it doesn’t have to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.“ Again, I don’t know what that means but I won’t be spoken to like a college essay.

“How about if I take you to the Clippers game and we can talk about anything you want,” my son reasoned.  I shot back that “First of all, they are my season tickets so who is taking whom here?  Next, you better believe we will talk about what I want, you are not getting out of this one.”  I had planned to take the kids to this game for quite some time so who was he kidding?  I remember when I was the Lakers of my household since I was the only game in town.  Now, with my kids being the hard charging Clippers of this domestic hardwood tale, I have to cling to whatever it is that I have left.

“Sorry, Daddy,” my daughter chimed in.  “I can’t go to the game.  You wanted us to think business, didn’t you?  With The Clippers in and out of first place, that ticket is worth four times what you paid for it and since you want me to make money now, I decided to sell it to some Ethiopian boy name Haroosh or Harim or some such.  Just be aware though, he wants to learn about the game of basketball so he may be asking you a question or two.  Besides, I am having a shareholders meeting tonight which means that I would have had to pass on the game anyhow.  No pun intended.  As a matter of fact, first I have to interview the cute boy who helped me come up with the stock certificate about being on my board of directors.  Buh-bye.”

I had to lay down the law.  “Hold on.  You two are either assets or liabilities.  Do you want to be plusses or minuses, huh?”  “Son of Sum” my son proudly labeled himself.  Again, I couldn’t tell if that was ignorance or bad humor.  “You know you will always be my one and only father,” beguiled my daughter “and I will never allow your shares in me to become diluted but some day you will have to share me with the rest of the world.”  Even though it was pure manipulation, I love when she speaks that way.

Here it was, in a nutshell.  That was my original point, I was wondering how they would make it on their own in the real world and they had turned it into my being able to make it without them.  How do they do it, I wondered?   Free markets, relaxed regulations, libertarianism…they were using conservative principles to undermine my authority.  It’s one thing to want me dead but I draw the line when you want my money.  This had to stop.

So I outsourced my parenting to a firm in Plano Texas that also offered golf lessons with the time freed up by my not doing my fatherly duties.  Unbeknownst to me, my kids had decided to privatize their role as offspring presumably to free them up to send out resumes in search of more relevant parents.  They went with a firm out of North Carolina called The Surro-gate Break-In which is so hush-hush, hence the Watergate reference, and where the parents are so uninvolved that they are not even aware they have been replaced.

In the end, it turned out that the surrogate parents were only good at taking bribes, or baksheesh as they liked to call it, and were even more incompetent than I was at being Paternal CEO.  As for my kids, because blood is thicker than bottled water, I decided to give up the outsourcing idea since my daughter subsequently has found a good job.  Her stock price has been rising ever since.  I am not only proud of her but I am especially proud of buying those thousand shares when they were dirt cheap.   As for my son, at first I thought I was going to have to let him go but then he discovered that Haroosh, if that is his real name, was over seven feet tall.  My son suggested that we adopt the handsome Ethiopian and teach him basketball for real.  He further suggested that he would stay on as Haroosh’s sports agent, which my son turns out to be really good at.  Who knew?

Note:  Suit Boy moved to Washington and now works on K Street where he earns over a million a year.  It was too late to adopt him.

* delaying entrance into Kindergarten in order to gain advantage by allowing the child to grow mentally, physically, and being more emotionally mature.
Happy Anniversary, Honey.


  • Tom says:

    I need the contact info for the Plano firm.

  • Harlin says:

    I thought the part of the son was played with gusto and verve

  • Larry says says:

    Boy can I relate to this marvelous spoof about our shared parental predicament. Watch your back, Ronnie!

  • Sal says:

    Good luck trying to outsmart the kids. They just won’t ever get how brilliant and totally cool we have always been — the point is just lost on them. By the way, Bill and I have reached the stage where our children actually tell us to our face how “cute” we are.

  • Marty says:

    Comments, Harry, we get comments. He has a better sense of humor than I do. I know that’s hard to believe.

  • Susan says:

    Insightful, brilliant, eloquent, masterful, engaging, compelling, amazing, plaque-removing, sun-blocking, oh, wait – what were we talking about?

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