Friday, October 1, 1999

What About Naomi?!

By Todd Feitelson (toddf9)

I've only been addicted to a soap opera once. I lived on the island of St. Croix for a year right out of college. Oddly, All My Children was on each night at 6:00 p.m. It seemed as if every other transplanted mainlander watched religiously, so what was a single guy trapped on an island to do? I got hooked.

Now, I knew that soap operas were comically melodramatic and often absurd. Yet, when I started watching for myself, it felt as if I had joined in at the pivotal moment of this series that had been running for many, many years. Erica's husband has a half-brother imprisoned in the attic?! Tad is married, but hasn't told the woman he's engaged to?! The wealthy bad guy has convinced the court that the wealthy bad woman is insane and should be committed?! All of these things, in my mind, pushed the limits of even the extreme ridiculousness I expected from a soap.

Of course, after six months of viewing, it became clear to me that soap operas live at this extreme. It's not really possible for them to get more silly, but they certainly don't let up at all. Once I realized this, I became less interested in watching (although I must admit a certain happiness at seeing Susan Lucci finally win an Emmy).

Why do I find myself drawing on this experience these days? Well, I began my road to Fooldom by investing in the Foolish Four at the beginning of August. My stocks: Sears, Goodyear, General Motors, and Eastman Kodak. I am committed to holding to the program, but what a ride so far! Sears earnings are down?! Goodyear won't meet analysts expectations?! My portfolio trails the market by 7%?! Although I am due a positive turn soon, it's easy for me to think that I've chosen to invest at the pivotal (read: worst) moment of this series that has been running for many, many years.

I always knew that the stock market was volatile and unpredictable, but until I started to watch every day, it didn't occur to me what that really meant. Now, after watching my own financial soap opera for two months, I see that this is always how the market is going to be -- one dramatic turn after another.

So I'm less interested in watching every day, because the volatility, good or bad, won't go away. I'll just have to trust that patience, as it did for Susan Lucci, will pay off.

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