Thursday, September 13, 2012

Making Money

I do not have a head for business. I buy high and sell low, and the one time I ventured into a public offering, I bought into the worst IPO in the history of IPOs. I put $3000 into Vonage, the computer phone company--a sure thing, all advised me. My three grand is now worth $187. I took Econ 101 while at Georgetown University and even I can tell this is not a good return on my investment.
I have purchased land upon which I could not build, apartments that could not be rented without thousands of dollars of work, and vintage motorcycles that could not pass even the undemanding Virginia state inspection. The signed and limited Salvador Dali editions I own were limited only by the fact that the printing presses broke down after putting out several million prints and papering the landscape with them. When I was better off, I splurged on what was once a very expensive Italian sport scar. It was gorgeous, red with a tan leather interior, boasted 12 cylinders and a top speed of almost 200 mph. It is perhaps the only model in the company's history that has gone down in value in the past 10 years.
Most recently, I closed out an account with a broker who, I came to realize, never had my best interest at heart. When I decided to transfer my funds to another brokerage house, there was a glitch and for three weeks I had no money. That all worked itself out and I got a large number of airline miles by paying my mortgages with my credit card, but then the airline that issued the credit card went out of business. Such is life among the financially inept.
I am awed by the young entrepreneurs who are billionaires by the time they're thirty--awed and somewhat afraid. I do not know where the gene that allows some to take chances--and win--comes from. I'm pretty sure my parents didn't have it. Family lore tells of a maternal great-grandfather who bankrupted his upper bourgeoisie family by buying his mistress a candy store. The young woman--in her 20s, I was told--was a dancer with the Follies Bergeres and had about as much business acumen as I do. She ran the confectionery into the ground, then sold it and moved to the Cote d'Azure with a Portuguese playboy. Together, using the candy funds, they opened a charcuterie (the girl came from peasant stock) which did quite well until a shipment of tainted ham gave trichinosis to half the guests staying at the Negresco hotel in Nice. The erstwhile dancer and her paramour left town in the middle of the night, one step ahead of killers from the Corsican mafia. So obviously, they couldn't quite get the hang of it either. I'm glad I'm not the only one in the family...

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