(Originally written five years before I retired.)

Ask my ex-wife. She’ll tell you. I’m full of it. She doesn’t often say that I’m full of ‘it’, but she says something close to that. Something that ends in …it.

So what is the mysterious ‘it’ to which I so slyly refer? It is the gift (and the burden) of having a plethora of pseudo-bright ideas whizzing around my brain which too frequently collide in a shower of sparks or get caught in an intergalactic worm-hole and come zipping out in verbal expression before my hands are able to clamp themselves over my mouth. I think it comes from rapidly mis-firing brain synapses, a kind of brain arrhythmia, if you will. That, and, possibly, not having enough to do. But I love it – not having enough to do, that is. It gives me time to contemplate things like retirement, when I hope to have even more of such time.

Ah, but here’s the rub, (as is said by people who like to infer that they have read Shakespeare), – I don’t know when I can afford to retire. Indeed, many people don’t know when they can afford to retire. Some people just retire when they’ve reached some sort of stopping point and they decide to make a go of it without an on-going stream of employment income. Others consult experts to guide them through the steaming financial jungle of forecasting future monetary requirements.

My guide paused in his hacking at the vine-laden, jungle growth and with his gleaming, wet machete gripped menacingly in his sweaty, mosquito-bitten fist, he turned to me and said, Okay, so which way now, wiseguy?

And indeed that’s approximately the kind of guidance most people get from financial consulting experts. “You wanna path?  I can cut a path. Which way do you wanna go?  3% of assets, please!”

Well sure I want someone to cut a path for me. Hell, I want them to slash, burn, pave a road for me and supply me with an eco-friendly golf cart for joyful, easy cruising along the jungle trail. But it all comes down to this devilishly tricky question that financial consultants want answered.  “So, how long are you going to live?”  Ahhh, uhmmm, uhhhh, hmmm. The financial consultant is prepared to cut the path to age 70, 77, 86, 94 or even 109, if that is what the client wants.  But what is the right answer?  How can we possibly know such a thing?

Happily, my feverish brain revels in such paradoxical puzzles. So naturally, I have come up with my latest sure-fire, fortune-making business venture. It’s a service that will help people to take the guess work out of the consultant’s seemingly unanswerable question. That’s right!  It’s a service that will guarantee that you will be dead by a certain date! Mind you, it won’t guarantee that you will live until that date, only that you will not live beyond that date. No more need to quibble about planning for five years or twenty years. You’ll know that you will not outlive your money.

I’m thinking that I will probably advertise my service on the Weather Channel because old folks watch that channel more than any other. “Worried about outliving your financial resources in retirement? Let LifeSpan Incorporated help you take the guess work out of your planning process. We can guarantee that you will never outlive your money.”

I know, I know.  You’re thinking, “He should call this business, ‘Murder Inc.’,”  I know.  But y’know, these days life’s more about spin than anything else. It’s really a kind of financial insurance that I’m offering. And you really can’t argue about the basic premise that guaranteeing death by a certain date is, finally, all about life span.

Of course I’ll have to sub-contract my call centre to India, as is done by all adept businesses these days. I’ll have to have a web-site. Okay. And in my TV pitch, I can end the advertising copy with the very appealing and politically correct encouragement, Call 1-800-426-8478. That’s 1-800 (I-am-thru). Operators and field associates are standing by. Call now!”
Psssst, wanna buy some insurance?

(Days later)


My recent offer of financial insurance through LifeSpan, which was a kind of term life insurance that helped by guaranteeing the term, has struck a mother-lode of interest!

Many people have written to me with some excellent suggestions that have caused me to review my business plan.
Among the fine suggestions were:
Name change – LifeSpan Incorporated now becomes LifeSpan Limited – Holly G
Number change – 1-800-I-am-thru, becomes 1-800-end-date – Rob H
Subsidiary company – ‘Dead Certain’ helps to insure parents, spouses, neighbours, etc., with you as the beneficiary! – Brian S and Meryl G

For all those fine suggestions, my new legal advisor, Guido (GWEE-doe), who has advised me not to call him my lawyer because ‘that would be illegal,’ has suggested that all of the folks who wrote to me with such brilliant suggestions should be offered my services ‘gratis,’ as he put it. These people will no doubt be pleased to learn that they will be part of the beta group, which is a group who test products and services in real world conditions to see how and where things might go wrong. Unfortunately, we still have some work to do in the self-selection of end-dates, so that part will have to be left to LifeSpan Limited to determine. Guido said that it had something to do with ‘limiting litigious liability,’ whatever that means.  I think that he was just trying to impress me by using alliterative expression. Anyhow, he said that he would take his associates, Zanco and Wakil and set things into motion for me. I told him that I would write to everyone to let them know that they should soon expect a knock on the door, but curiously, Guido began laughing uproariously at my suggestion. When he could finally contain himself, he wiped a tear from his eye as he shook his head side-to-side and said, “We-hee don’t knock!  He’s an enigma, that Guido.


So I hope that my beta clients have fun meeting Guido, Zanco and Wakil. Guido said that with this beta group, he’d be doing the reporting to me just so that my clients don’t have to worry about another thing.

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