Tuesday, December 23, 1997

The Broker Ball
By Patrick Chylinski (

The night is still a blur, but I’ll recount what I can remember.

The ballroom was crowded, the dance floor full. I grabbed a glass of wine from a passing waiter and scanned the room for a friendly face. Then I saw her across the room. She was tall and elegant, her green eyes every bit as beautiful as her red hair. I had to talk to her. I had to meet this woman.

I walked in her direction, my eyes fixed on her beautiful smile. I approached her, bowing my head slightly. "Good evening, miss. I wanted to introduce myself and ask you for a dance." (I pictured us married, with three kids, living in a spacious home in the country.)

"I would love to," she said. (She looked me up and down. I think she liked what she saw.) "I like a man who is sure of himself." She smiled, and her nose wrinkled. My knees went weak. I love it when a woman smiles and her nose wrinkles.

I took her hand, and we made our way to the dance floor. The band played. "You look like a successful man," she said. "You must be a wise investor." (Visions of lavish, month-long European vacations danced in her head.)

"Yes, I do invest," I replied. "But I’m very Foolish when it comes to investing." (I smiled to myself, thinking about the simple beauty and power of compound growth.)

She looked puzzled, but intrigued. "A foolish investor? I know what you mean. I’ve made some poor investments in my time too, but that’s why I now use a full-service broker." (Visions of weekend trips to the beach crossed her mind.)

I tried to hide my disappointment. "I see. A full-service broker. Very Wise," I mumbled just above a whisper. (I looked over her shoulder, hoping to spot another waiter.)

"Why thanks," she said with a wink. "I’ve done pretty well. In fact, my broker just recommended another mutual fund. You should see the three-month return on this thing, and it’s run by the hottest manager on Wall Street." (She noticed my tux was a rental.)

"I have a large position in an index fund," I replied, "in addition to some individual stocks. I use a discount brokerage, but I’m a long-term investor, so I don’t trade very often." (I made a mental note to remember to open up a Roth IRA.)

She gave me a haughty look. "Boy, you weren’t kidding; you are foolish. I should give you the name of my broker. But you won’t be able to reach him for a few weeks though. He’s on vacation in Hawaii." (Visions of weekends by the backyard pool lurched through her head.)

The song was over. The dance floor cleared. "It was nice meeting you," she said. "I wish you the best of luck." (She thought: how did we start talking about investing? Oh well, I hope he’s happy being a fool.)

"Thank you for the dance," I replied. "And it was a pleasure meeting you." (I thought: how did we start talking about investing? Oh well, I’m happy being a Fool.)

She turned and walked away. I turned and walked the other way. Boy, she had a great smile. And those legs...

But hey, looks aren’t everything.

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