Fool.com: The Molly Dodd Fribble [Fribble] June 27, 2000

Fribble The Molly Dodd Fribble

By Selena Maranjian (TMF Selena)
June 27, 2000

"I'm sorry... my life keeps interfering with my future."
      — Blair Brown as Molly Dodd on "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd"

If you've never seen the television show "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd," you've really missed something special. But at least you're blissfully unaware of what you've missed. As someone who was a big fan of the show, I'm doomed to just miss it for the rest of my life. And to marvel that a quick Internet search reveals fan clubs for the Loch Ness Monster, Monica Lewinsky, Jar Jar Binks, Vanna White, and Soledad O'Brien — but none for Molly Dodd. Incredible.

But let's move on a little to investing, shall we? What's the connection between Molly Dodd and investing? Well, for those with an open mind, there are some. Take the quotation up top. For many of us, our lives do interfere with our future. All throughout my 20s, for example, I completely ignored investing and never got around to saving for my retirement. Today many people in their 30s, 40s, even 50s have yet to get around to learning about investing and planning for their retirement. They may mean to, but their lives keep getting in the way: late nights at work, dinner parties, mowing the lawn, weekend family outings, dentist appointments, shopping excursions, hanging out with friends.

Another investment lesson I glean from Molly Dodd relates to Warren Buffett. He has explained many times how he waits for the "fat pitch." He says that instead of swinging all the time (investing in any old thing, in companies that seem like the best bets at the moment), he'd rather wait for the obviously great pitch. The one he knows he can hit out of the park. The amazing investment opportunity that only comes around once in a while. Buffett advises us to imagine that we have only 20 punches available on our investing ticket in life and to not squander them. Thinking about it that way can help you concentrate your money on only your best ideas.

That applies to "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd," too, because for the television aficionado, it is a fat pitch. It's one of only a handful of great shows you're likely to see in a lifetime. (From my own perspective, I'd include "Northern Exposure" and "St. Elsewhere" and a few others in that category. What are your favorites? Share them on our TV discussion board.)

More lessons? Well, Molly is a generalist. She's worked as a jazz singer, jingle writer, Realtor, editor/ghostwriter, jazz band manager and bookstore clerk, among other jobs. A negative way to look at this is to see her as directionless, perpetually seeking. But perpetually seeking isn't a bad thing. Exploring lots of alternatives and learning about many different worlds can lead to a rich life. She peppers her life with songs, too — soulfully singing standards such as "When Sunny Gets Blue," "It Could Happen to You," and "Peg of my Heart." The lesson I draw here is that it can be rewarding to make the most of what's around you, to investigate different possibilities, to lay a lush soundtrack over your life.

The world of Molly Dodd is also full of many unexpected and inexplicable things. A free-lance exterminator on a mission enters her apartment and sprays a cloud of dust over her kitchen. Her apartment building's elevator always stops two to three feet above where it should stop. She can't recall an alleged "cousin Mike from Bawlmer," but everyone else in her family recalls long summers spent with his family. She decides to see a psychologist at one point, but the shrink, a woman, (unbeknownst to Molly) ends up falling in love with her and then avoiding her. Her garbage man keeps climbing a career ladder, ending up as the "Special Liaison to the Mayor's Office from the Department of Parks and Recreation." Her elevator man can be found doing some soft-shoe in the lobby or offering her his 3,000-page memoir trilogy to read.

Similarly, our world is full of surprises, as is the investing world. Who would have believed that the S&P 500 would advance more than 170% in the last five years? Or that the giant Time Warner would be gobbled up by a company few thought much about or had even heard of several years ago? For those of us who have been investing over the past few years, who would have dared to dream that $15,000 plunked into the market would quickly become $40,000 or even much more now? Who would have imagined a decade ago that today we'd all have access to much of the same company research resources that Wall Street insiders do, or that we'd be able to share our thoughts on all kinds of topics and companies on discussion boards?

Life is rich. Take some time to learn about card games and board games. Or about the amazing world of intrepid dumpster divers. If you don't have an online brokerage account, consider opening one. If you do have one, take some time to learn some new ways of looking at companies. If you've always wanted to learn a language, go for it! Been asked to serve in a new role? Give it a shot.

That's a lot of learning from one short-lived television show. (I wonder what we might learn from "Eight is Enough" or "Barney Miller"?) I encourage you to check out "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd," if any cable network is clever enough to offer reruns of it.

Let me close with a little friendly banter from Molly Dodd herself, as she called a local eatery and ordered some Chinese food for dinner:

"Well, happy Year of the Snake to you, too. Boy, the Year of the Pig just flew by, didn't it?"

Fool on!

[This has been one of Selena's wacky Fribbles. If you're a glutton for the absurd, check out her Fribble archive.]