On the express orders of my governor and president, and in order to save the state and nation, I decided recently to buy a house.
Consumer confidence is at an 18-year low and all the experts agree that it is we, the Ordinary Joes and Jills, who are at fault.
If we would just use all our "extra" money (i.e. the money we currently squander on food, rent, and heating) to buy "big-ticket" items like homes, office buildings and football stadiums, America would soon be out of this recession.
So I decided that buying a house is the patriotic thing to do this year.
In order to do this, however, I had to go to a bank and get a mortgage. This, I knew, would be easy.
When Donald Trump or Robert Maxwell went to a bank, they didn't get asked any tough questions like: "Do you have any assets that actually exist in this dimension?"
No, they just got handed the dough.
So I went into my bank, which has always advertised itself as "A Friendly Bank for Friendly People."
I sat down at a desk with a loan officer. His first words were very friendly.
"Three points," he said.
"That's what you have to pay us," he said. "It means you have to pay us three percent of your loan. Up front. In cash."
I figured it out. It was a lot of money.
Do I have to pay you this? I asked. Does Governor Schaefer know about this?
"Oh, yes," he said. "And he feels it is good for the nation."
Well, OK, I said. In that case.
The banker got out a sheet of paper. "You must first obtain a guarantee of employment," he said.
What does that mean?
"It means that you have to have someone at work attest that you will hold your job for the life of this loan."
"Someone you work for," he said. "A superior."
Nobody I work for is superior.
"A boss, Mr. Simon. An editor."
And you want some editor to say I'm going to have a job for the life of the loan, which is 30 years?
What makes you think any of my editors are going to have jobs for 30 years?
"Mr. Simon . . ."
In fact, what makes you think you're going to have a job for 30 years?
"Mr. Simon . . ."
Or that the bank will even be here in 30 years?
"I think, perhaps, we can waive that requirement," the banker said.
Good idea, I said.
"In order to establish your net worth," he said, "we must know the value of your household goods."
What's a household good?
"Well, furniture, clothing, appliances like refrigerators or . . ."
I got a refrigerator, I said.
"Yes, I imagined as much. We just need a total, a . . ."
Icemaker's on the blink, though.
"Mr. Simon . . ."
And they want 75 bucks to fix it. Buncha crooks.
"The bank really doesn't care about the icemaker, Mr. Simon . . ."
Sure, it doesn't. You guys are probably rolling in ice.
"Maybe we can move on."
"I am required by law to ask you the following," the banker said. "Have you ever committed a serious crime?"
What do you mean by serious?
"Well, I really don't know. Nobody has ever asked me that before. I suppose it means like armed robbery or . . ."
Armed robbery? No. Never. Next question.
"Well, it isn't limited to armed robbery," he said. "I suppose we want to know if you have committed any crime worse than, say, a traffic offense."
What do you mean by committed?
"Well, I suppose we mean a conviction."
So, if like maybe you killed a man in Texas once, but they let you go because the jury decided the guy had it coming and you agreed to move up north and become a newspaper columnist and never go back to Texas, that wouldn't count?
"I don't think I could fit all that on the form," the banker said. "But if I may, Mr. Simon, could I inquire as to why that man in Texas was killed?"
I leaned back from the desk a little.
Maybe he asked me one too many questions, I said softly.
And you know what? I got the loan!