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THE AFFLUENT TREE-HOUSE: (Part I: The Rise and Fall of builders of the American empire)

THE AFFLUENT TREE-HOUSE: (Part I: The Rise and Fall of builders of the American empire)

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Published by Mike Dietzel
Being a kid in the 1960s, we built tree-houses,forts and played outside. We also encountered bullies and spoiled brats. We strive for the best house; the bigger house until the whole thing comes tumbling down.
The person with the best tree-house wins?
Being a kid in the 1960s, we built tree-houses,forts and played outside. We also encountered bullies and spoiled brats. We strive for the best house; the bigger house until the whole thing comes tumbling down.
The person with the best tree-house wins?

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Published by: Mike Dietzel on Jul 27, 2012
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THE AFFLUENT TREE-HOUSE: (Part I: The Rise and Fall of builders of the American empire) (My Tree-house

is better than yours! Nah, Nah, Nah, Nah..Nah!) By Mike Dietzel

Historical settings: The Banks take down the American dream. … The Year 2008. “Let Wall Street have a nightmare and the whole country has to help get them back in bed again” Will Rodgers “Armaments, universal debt and planned obsolescence — those are the three pillars of Western prosperity.” — Aldous Huxley

The summer of 2012: Letting my mind float downstream.
Driving sets a man's mind to muddle through his town's past and for me, I had seen my little town for over fifty years. It was never a town, who was going to impress the urbane, nor was it a town whose claim to fame is that country quaintness. Busloads of Chinese or Japanese tourist are not going to stop and buy trinkets or fudge, in my town. My town was really just a middling town. Boring and beige was its inner color motif. However, with a strange twist of the flicked finger of fate, some pseudo celebrities have been created here. More, than anyone would ever imagine. Even though there has been some minor celebrities outbreaks occurring here, with one Sci-Fi TV star, a Mt. Pleasant kid, almost hitting the big time. Sadly, for him, his real fame rose slightly, when he married that girl from that sugary ode to American's getting stuck in Minnesota, on a TV show called Little House on the Boring flat Prairie, and the place where the strange hobby of ice fishing was created. (You must really be bored or hate your family to try and catch fish in the middle of a freezing winter.) Sadly, even that marriage didn't last. The little house on the Prairie marriage hit one of those divorce lawyers dust bowls. I can see this divorce effect along with the financial collapse churning through my block. As my neighborhood is filled with mic-mansions stating the orgasm of the good times and the down home dirty blues of shuttered windows with plywood and foreclosed starter homes, no longer quaint places for a new couple to begin their American journey. There is nothing outstanding about my town, but you can go home again and see if anything radical has occurred. The town itself somehow has had its moments of being mentioned. The brief reference in a Movie is more likely used as a Hollywood put-down of the Hicks, or middle-class norm that has ruled the town. Here is another clue for you all, the town's police car was featured in a Movie. For some strange reason, or maybe as some sort of cosmic joke, my little town gets placed inside a taste of Pop entertainment. My town was not totally unhip and even made a slight dent in Pop music. Yes, twice we had made some in roads in the wacky, wonderful world of Pop/Rock Music, You see Mt. Pleasant had a tiny bit of Rock and Roll fame. Yes, we had a rock band which was called The Shadows of Knight. This was an almost vital attempt to stem the tide of the Beatles and the British invasion. The group did break out in the Pop Rock top forty, with their one hit wonder fame of “G”L”O”R”I”A”,all original members of the band did do time in my little town. Mt. Pleasant of course is a fake name for my time, but if you like mysteries or little puzzles here are some clues.

First clue: The town had a once impressive Mall, which is now being scaled down to an updated strip mall with condos. (You think the condo craze would have disappeared like the dodo bird. The only thing that loses money faster than a condo is that car you just drove off the lot.) Second clue: One of the town’s residents, a mere youngster, meaning a guy in his twenties, won a singing contest that used to be hosted by a very cranky Brit, and the poor kid now sadly has disappeared into oblivion. That poor schmuck VANISHED WITHOUT A HIT RECORD. Ok, I am old. I guess it should be an Mp3 download hit? Mt. Pleasant may have seen touches of greatness, but a lot of stupid, loutish, racist, murderous things from this little town outweigh any momentary lapses of greatness. (My neighborhood was full of evil ones: One lawyer or ambulance chaser that was pure evil as a child,a bully,a killer of small animals, a drunken adulterous bible thumper, and a mediocre serial killer, a Mafia hit man, even one of those vacuous blonde ladies on Bravo, originally resided in the town. (These stories will be released later.) But, it was the sight of working in the garden of my family home to see a structure that jogged memories of the 1960's building boom. It was the new neighbor kids, playing on one those play structures sort of a treehouse, play house monstrosity. Jesus, those kids are actually playing out side and not hooked up to some damn electronic device. I go on with my weeding and picking my tomatoes when I am shocked that these kids actually start talking to me. I am an old fart, and normally I only get to converse with insurance salesman or a senior bitching about life's end of the road. The two toe-headed diapered crowd is a brother three years old and a sister that is two, they shout out, “HI!” with enthusiasm that is sorely lacking from my other neighbors. I am stunned, flabbergasted, because most of the neighbors, the old ones and the new ones normally don't talk to neighbors. “HI,” “You kids have a nice play house.”

The kids are bubbling with joy and are totally into this outdoor lifestyle. It hits me these kids are immigrant kids. These kids are new to America; they are not pallid, and their brains are not overwhelmed with digital information and electronic toys, and their bodies are not made fat like a goose being forced fed with pop-tarts. I figured out the accent is Polish; they fit the kids of my generation, the blonde hair from being outside all day and playing and climbing, finding bugs, getting dirty. Jesus, we need more immigrants like this to improve this land of downloaded demented teenagers, constant consumers of treacle dreck and pot-bellied kids who are sluggish and depressed Islaves of Americans. Wait, holy crap, this was my life. I was those kids playing outside all the time. There were no friggin computers in the home, when I was a snot nose brat. Yes, even I had a playhouse that my father, the old man, picked up. It was a true work of Hillbilly art, in fact. It was a shack. A true ode to American's nailing things together and creating a rustic ode to our ancestor's miserable abodes. However, as kids, we loved that shack; it was a hide-out, a fort, a place to hide things from the adult world. The old man was not handy with tools, but he could nail in a nail. The shack he came home with was a prefab. He got the shack from one of his Hillbilly drivers who had most likely moved his brother-law out of the shack and got his whole family into one of those new fangled double wide trailers. It is sort of nice to be able to move your house on wheels when you start hating the neighbors. Even our brick Cape code house should have a set of wheels, but that story comes later. Dad, had a habit of picking up things for the house that appeared to be junk or purchases of pure craziness. He mainly bought stuff if it made sense for our house or for his hobby of flying model airplanes and turning them into kindling wood. Pop's even traded something from his collection of junk with Charley Thomas, and we got a riding lawn mower.

This was another amazing ode to Hillbilly creativity and automotive engineering. It was my job to cut the grass at our house, all though not a large house, we had a very large backyard, that meant I spent at least hour pushing a rusty Sears mower through the weeds, crabgrass to get shaved down to the crew-cut style of lawn that was fashionable back then. Pops had gotten Charley to drop off, a fire-engine red riding lawn mower, that was sort of a home-built creation of parts from all different lawn mowers. The mower even included a Mack truck hood ornament. The bulldog gleamed proudly in the sun to announce to my neighbors my lawn-mower is kick ass; you schleps. I felt like riding around the neighborhood and yelling out: “KEEP ON PUSHING YOU LOSERS!” Pops put gas and oil into the machine and went through the levers, and he now instructed me to begin cutting the grass. What I didn't know at the time was that Hillbillies by nature love to soup up their engines, even on a lawn mower. Once I put the lawn-mower into gear, the damn lawn-mower threw me back in the seat and popped a wheelie, as I step on the gas. The lawn-mower was on its two back wheels like a dragster. I could cut the whole yard in about fifteen minutes, give or take any of the bushes I ran down with misguided steering. I really loved that machine. Well, in between the riding mower, was the time spent playing army and running about, and we for some strange reason dug up holes and made fox holes and tunnels. It was very fortuitous if one is heading to Vietnam. My shack or playhouse the military headquarters was in the corner of our yard and was an eye sore to the more fastidious neighbors, but we paid them no mind, while they recorded every ascetic infraction. Actually thinking back upon that structure it did have sort of an outhouse feel about it, or maybe more of a shed to keep goats, so I do understand their revulsion. It was certain neighbors, that we paid very close attention to, as they were of the Bully class, and had to be monitored for the possibility of them turning on you along with their ability to be giving you an atomic wedgie or some sort of beat down. For some strange reason, sometimes two bullies form alliances. Sort of like Hitler and Stalin. It was those two bullies Ricky Stulz and Johnny Zapple, who made my life and others pure misery.

You went through your own neighborhood sort of twitchy,with nerve ends tingling, hoping not to encounter them. Ricky was the bigger of the bullies. Ricky is a Gorilla size bully with the bearing of Herman Goring, conceited, full of himself. Johnny Zapple was a henchman and not the brains of the outfit, scrawny underfed, rat like in manners and actions. A pure mean streak coursed through his veins. In-between their bully they sometimes tried normal kid like activities. Yes, those two created their own tree fort, which proved that even evil likes to build things. Did you ever notice how many giant odes to ego that Hitler built before the whole thing was blown apart? I can see myself now as a chunky eight-year-old on this very patio, just screwing off with catching bugs, butterflies and wandering around my back yard. I see my nemeses the evil ones hard at work cutting, and nailing boards together, as long as they are busy I am safe. My brain ponders why bullies exist and how there seems a never-ending shit-heads in the world to make one's life a living hell. What makes a bully tick? Is there a genius there? You really can't forget you encounters with bullies, it like turning your mind to a way back machine. I can still see the bullies to this day. It is 1968; it is peace and love except in my neighborhood. There I am a chubby twelve-year-old, happy that it is summer but aware of the danger of the older, non-followers of peace and love. You are now in my backyard in the wondrous days of summer, the doldrums. I feel the freedom from such things as Modern math and dangling participles. My transistor radio is playing the top forty hits. I am a chunky music junkie, who longs to be a hippie with a blonde, Bridget Bardot type girlfriend who worships me and my long flowing hippie locks. Sadly, this would not occur, and I was saddled with a crew-cut (ordered from my Father ex-marine), who thinks the crew-cut is the only acceptable style.

As I turn to scan to see the status of Ricky’s demeanor, he hopefully will ignore me and go about his normal business. “Oh crap!” Johnny Zapple is with him, and he is even worse than Ricky. The last time, I encounter these two butt heads. They tore up my autograph collection of sports stars and then punched me in the stomach until I almost threw up. Oh no, Zapple spotted me.
“HEY FAT BOY!” “GOT ANY MORE AUTOGRAPHS WE CAN SEE!” Johnny Zapple says this while laughing that evil laugh.

My hatred is boiling, but they are bigger and in a pair, so my option is to keep my mouth shut. Like a cat surrounded by pit bulls, I am ready to run back in the house if I become a target to anymore assaults. “Hey, John! Stop wasting time on him, we have to start the Treehouse.” Thankfully, Ricky is ordering rat-boy around, so I am safe for now. As I am watching the proceedings, I hear footsteps and lucky for me, it is not the bullies but Mark McNabster. “Hey Detz, what’s happening.”

Mark had picked up the hippie lingo of the day, from his older brothers, who had the latest records. He was rebelling against his parents’ Southern Baptist roots and who couldn‘t blame him. Like all kids with summer upon them; Mark was suffering from the kid's summer doldrums. “What dya wanna do? How about a game of tether ball or hand ball?” “Let’s play tether ball, so we can keep an eye on those two butt heads.” As we saunter to my backyard, we will be directly across the Stulz’s backyard, which will give us room to maneuver out of range of any flying object flung at us. Like a solider in battle, a kid has to keep aware movements and locations of your enemies. We didn’t stare but glanced over as we set up to play tether ball. “Hey Detz, did you ever get a stereo yet?”

Music, was a big thing as the Beatles had given a new sound and excitement to our limited kid world. “ Yes, but it is more a piece of furniture than the stereo system I wanted.” “It is Magnvox with crappy speakers, when I wanted a Harmon Karden setup up, I ended up that hunk of junk.” “Oh yeah, parents don’t understand anything about the latest gear.” Mark says this shaking his head. “My parents are closer to being Hicks and Farmers then even yours.” Dissing one’s parents could be turned into a game of one-upmanship “My parents are so lame.” We both were trying to fit in with the new hippie movement, fit in and become cool. Mark interjects that his ace in the hole was access to older brother’s stuff. “I use my older brother stereo as it’s got one hundred watts, and it really kicks ass.” We start the Tether ball game and between the whams, we over hear the two bullies to start working on their construction project. There was an oddity of the breakdown of the neighbor kids, some were still dressing and acting like in was the 1950s, like Ricky, and the bankers kid. Other kids were getting on that new found spirit of letting your hair grow longer while listening to music your parents would hate.

Ricky, however, did all those traditional things that look great on a kid resume. He was Boy Scout, but of course, he would never help an old lady cross the street. For the sports part of the resume, he joined midget Football, but of course Ricky was no midget in the weight department. Even though this was the time of going against organizations and rules, Ricky stayed away from the hippie, love vibe with the intensity of G. Gordon Liddy or that nut job Glen Beck.

Now it hit me. This was Ricky being creative and using his hands for manual labor, which was a first hippie thing Rickie ever did. Holy Twiggy, Donovan, Tiny Tim and Laugh In, Ricky is having a moment of Hippie craziness: Does Ricky the Kid genius has a hippie side? Or it may be related to our inner chimp brain that makes us climb trees and build tree forts as kids, but for now, I wondered why the kid genius couldn't create something more astounding? Mark and I stop the game, as we glance at the two bullies hammering, sawing and swearing while creating a system to hoist up the wood for their odd ode to architecture. “Hey, look at that piece of junk.” Mark says this while pointing to a pile of wood that was nailed crookedly into the Stulz maple tree in the backyard. We all start laughing at their inept attempts at construction. Mark looks on with smile and smirk summing up Ricky's current academic standards. “Wait, isn’t Ricky some sort of genius and boy scout woodsman?” “Well, according to his parents, he is a genius, but you know how that goes.” “You know. It proves that his genius can’t be related to architecture.” Mark says laughing. “Yeah you would think since if he was a genius he would have started with a blueprint or even a sketch to plan the design out before he just started “ I loved to point out Ricky’s flaws to anybody who would listen, since Ricky’s Mom was constantly was shoving her kids report card in my Mom’s face proving that her kids were better. It was like my one shining moment to say, “Take that you big Ahole.”

It was at that very moment, that I understood life with a blinding clarity. Like an ice bath or dip in Lake Michigan in the fall or winter, the truth, the friggin truth smacked me upside the head. While witnessing Ricky's feebly building of a tree house, when I realize that most of life is PR, pure bullshit. I burst out this pearl of wisdom to Mark, but who knows if he kept it as his Mantra. “All that parent’s praise and awards from teachers are a lot of bull shit.” Mark, just nodded his head in agreement since, his Father was an English Teacher at Prospect, so he was suffering some conflict there. We heard Ricky barking orders at Zapple: “HOLD THAT PIECE STRAIGHT WHILE I NAIL IT IN.” Now, we both focused on their insane stress tests. At one point of the building project, Ricky and Johnny imagine a young version of Laurel and Hardy as their odd size of one big, fat and the other underfed and bone skinny made a strange couple. The two boneheads would jump on the wood they just nailed into the tree to see if it could hold their weight. Johnny Zapple was rat like in appearance and a lightweight in both brains and stature. Since Ricky was twelve, but already almost two hundred and seventy pounds, this was quite a stress test. Johnny was only about ninety pounds, so his tests were a lot safer,than the giant Ricky jumping up and down on this rickety piece of crap they just built. Ricky was one lucky bastard, as the G-forces of his jumps was creating seismic tremors against the boards. It was pure dumb luck that these boards held up to the punishing Sumo Kid Genius jumping up and down like them with a trampoline effect. I watched as the two numb skulls, were hammering and slinging wood, when suddenly I heard a Ricky scream in pain. The kid genius had whacked his own thumb with his own hammer, while Johnny’s rat face looked on. Johnny as a Frenemy had a tiny smirk on, that he was trying to vainly conceal. Of course, Mark and I started laughing, but made sure that I could run back inside my house, in case they turned their wrath onto us. As are laughter grew, so did Ricky’s rage, and he then instructed his henchmen Zapple to go to work. When we moved back to the Tether ball game and our backs were turned, we couldn’t help but laugh nor could we stifle our breakdowns of joy at Ricky grasping his thumb and shaking like a chimp.

We thought we were safe, but the next thing I knew: I felt a sharp blow and thump from my skull. “WATCH OUT, ZAPPLE ISTHROWING BLOCKS OF WOOD.” Mark said this a little too late, as I felt my knees buckle. Falling over from the initial blow, I looked around to see blocks of wood come flying over in our direction. “Shit!” “Ouch!” “Let’s get out of here!” I said staggering back to my feet. Mark looked a little panicky as we had a long run to my house, and Zapple was now going for the nail gun. Zapple was one sneak little bastard. Ricky was flinging blocks of wood with his good hand while his other was hung to his side with his black and blue thumb throbbing, pulsating like his evil soul. We were both sitting ducks, wide open to direct hits. Ducking and dodging was the best option for now. This is where algebra could have been useful, to calculate how fast we had to run to make to the best hiding place. The problem was we were both C students, facing one crazed genius and his demented sidekick. Pure fear and adrenaline kicked in, which is a lot quicker than using a word algebra problem to save your life. “Ok, Mark we are going to have to run like hell for the garage!” “Can, we get in the side door?” Mark was logical and right about that one. The side door always had junk in front of, but I was knowing that it was safer than trying for the front of the garage. “We have to go now, before, Rat face gets the nail gun loaded.” As I said this Johnny was loading the nail gun with relish. “Ok, ready set go!” “GET THE NAIL GUN GOING JOHN!” Ricky shouted as he was out for blood like a wounded grizzly bear. Blink, thud, zing was the sound of the nails coming in like tracer bullets. Running and trying to cover our face from incoming nails, we made it to the side of the garage next to the front door. “Hurry up! Johnny they are running away like chickens.” We now are in front of the side door. Mark grabs the knob, and turns but the door doesn’t open. “DAMN IT, THE SIDE DOOR IS JAMMED.” “Let me do it. MOVE IT!” I knew what to be done, as I turned the knob while giving the door a body check to clear the way, the junk that was holding the door shut. The door popped open and we both fell over each other inside the garage. We both gasped and exhaled with relief. The I realized why I wasn’t listed as a genius.

There was a big flaw in this plan. The garage doors didn’t lock. The old man never bothered to have a lock installed on the side door or lost the key. “Shit, Damn, Crap!” “What’s wrong? We are safe in here?” Mark asked not knowing that I screwed up like any C student might. “THE DOORS DON’T LOCK!” I confessed knowing that we were screwed once we tried the doors. All the blood drained out of faces, as we know that we were trapped like drugged out test rats in the science lab, the stupid ones that can’t find their way out of the maze. “Ok, but they don’t know the doors don’t lock.” Mark said this with a slight tinge of hope. “We can tie the big garage door shut with that extension cord.” We frantically start fumbling and tie the door the best we can. I hear Ricky and Johnny clomping around outside circling like hyenas’ over a dead carcass. “Jesus, we are trapped.” Mark said this with that look of defeat like any kid that suffered at the hands of a bully could recognize immediately. “Let’s get some weapons, look, there are some golf clubs and wait bug spray.” I throw Mark a three wood and grab the driver, as the longer the club the better. Each has a big wooden head and better chance of scoring a punch without close contact. There was a pounding at the garage door. Then silence. We are assuming that as a genius Ricky would figure out we were stuck in the garage. It was only a matter of time. “WE KNOW YOU ARE IN THERE, AND WE ARE GOING TO GET YOU!” Zapple said this in his normal evil tone and laughter. Before, I go get pelted with wood and nails he is going to get a couple smacks with this driver. We started bracing for the worst. They started pulling at the garage door. The door came off the ground about six inches, but they hadn’t discovered the side door. Zapple was pulling when we heard Ricky shout: “Go to the side door while I hank on this one.” “OH CRAP!” “Mark, get ready!” “Let’s block the side door with this cabinet. The door starting opening and grabbed the handle and held.

“JUST YOU WAIT!, I’LL GET RICKY TO KNOCK THE DOOR DOWN!” ZAPPLE hissed this warning, and then knew what to do next. I became evil myself and found my hidden genius when I picked up a bag of cow manure we used for the garden, garden gloves and started forming five balls of cow shit. I grabbed a can of Raid only to hold him off them if cow shit balls didn't hold him off. “Mark, I am going let the door open up a tad, but get ready to swing that club if Zapple gets’s in.” “WHAT, ARE YOU CRAZY.” The door opened a crack, and I could see Zapple beady rat face. I then shook the can Raid as a warning. “OK, ZAPPLE BACK OFF YOU ARE GONNA GET IT.” The raid can, maybe him back off. Mark stayed back and made a few dung balls of destruction then ran outside as Ricky made his charge like a bull-elephant in heat. “WANNA ARE YOU GOING TO DO FATTY!” Maybe it was last daunt, but I didn’t give shit, I took direct aim with a dung ball and hit him directly in the face, directly in his eyes. “Keep coming Zapple and you will get the Raid.” I then threw more dung balls right in his face, as Mark kept Stulz at bay with a giant dung ball. We ran for my back door, and I sprayed a cloud of Raid near them to back them up. The cloud kept them at bay and like a tear gas, it was effective for crowd control, although I didn't make a direct hit, the pesticide kept them at a distance with watering eyes. “SON OF A BITCH, WHEN I FIND YOU OUT ON THE STREET. I...cough.... AM GOING TO KILL YOU!” Zapple yelled this, which means I would have to hide for a month. As I peer out the door, I see Ricky waddling towards his buddy quickly wiping their eyes. “We are in the clear now, Mark.” Mark and I had beaten the enemy, but knowing that we had enemies for life: Mark summed it up: “Holy crap, are they going to be pissed.” “we'd better hide for awhile," I said this knowing that we should hide until those

two bastards go off to college. “ I am going to run and get into my house and hide, good luck Detz.” I had been hiding from Zapple and Stulz. If I did venture outside, I always carried a can of Raid with me. It hit me that just the mere sight of that can of bug spray would make Zapple back off. For the next couple of weeks, I was like Howard Hughes hiding and dodging people to avoid any confrontations. I tried not to think about those two butt heads, but the problem is one can’t escape a neighbor who is totally devoted to her son and who resides in the house right next to your house. As a direct neighbor there was constant chance of encountering them by just taking out the garbage. Although, people in the 1960s were more social, but not in a normal manner, mainly it involves kid snits, or dealing with lost, borrowed tools or holiday get together.

I watched from my Kitchen window as those evil bastards completed their tree-house which was the most rickety piece of crap ever designed. Sadly, chimps in the wild make better nests with trigs and branches than those two accomplished in three weeks of nailing and sawing. The two numbskull had been putting the final touches on their triumph to architecture, when Ricky’s devoted Mom came out to inspect his handy work. This of course, wasn’t Rose, his Mother, had in mind. This structure was not good enough. So Momma Rose, told Ricky that he needed better material and would order his Father to get the correct building materials, thus a temple to Ricky’s ego could be built. Maybe it was pushy Egyptian Mother’s not space aliens that had the pyramids built? Two weeks later Ricky’s father Richard Stulz tore down Ricky’s and Johnny's handy work and started a Tree house with railroad ties, support beams and cedar shake siding. He put more time and effort in this project than some of the neighbors had in putting on home additions. (Ricky, didn’t get involved in the second building project, but Ricky's Mother demanded a more suitable abode for her precious son. She worshiped her son, as if he was Jesus reincarnated.)

The new tree house was beautiful and thing of wonder. (Here is a photo I took circa 1968.) Sadly, the person that bought the Stulz homestead tore it down.)

It was a thing of architecture splendor; one of the incredible American ingenuity, but it had one fatal flaw. Kids, being kids, now ignored the Tree House that was like the Taj Mahl, since it wasn’t a kid built structure. Ricky never noticed all the hard work and money that his parents gave him. The dedication to the kid genius was astounding to me and my folks, as old man Stulz had already put a twelve-hour day working for ComEd,as a line man. Ironically, after old man Stulz, put in his time and sweaty efforts, the only one that used the new improved Tree house was the oldest Stulz child Diane, as a refuge from Ricky’s bullying. Ricky the bully ended up owning his own business and screwing up with a life of leisure until his business fell apart. John Zapple became a college drug dealer and later had a failed marriage along with a shady lifestyle. I walk to the patio and mull over my life and the concept of kid-hood. What other parents spent that much money on wooden object that the kids will ignore. Even one of the idiots I work with bought a playhouse for his three daughters, and they now never even go near it. When his wife, who is the main bread winner is pissed at him. She locks him out of the house. He luckily ends sleeping in the playhouse. I guess the

five thousand dollars for playhouse wasn't such a bad idea if you can use it as outside bedroom and sleep in it.

It is getting hot on the patio, and the cats want to go back in the house. We all start heading for the back door, and we collapse on the recliner. My life has been reduced to being a cat mattress, but at least they don’t ignore me like my two daughters. Maybe the cats know that I left the house and what little cash; I have left to them in the will. Screw my human family. If leaving your estate to you pet is good enough for that horrible Hemsley lady it’s good enough for me. I turn on the TV to catch the latest news on the Financial front or the war against my retirement. It is a handful to see what is left of my 401K, which was hit by the debacle on Wall-Street. Let’s try CNBC as they seem to be the only one available on standard cable, that will not cover some celebrity weight problem, or some infomercial involving the shallow and vacuous Kardashians sisters selling some more crap. The announcer in that serious Corporate voice: “ We are now reporting on the Congress Interrogation of the CEOs of the Investment Banks.” Wait, now they are talking about the ex-head of Merrill Lynch. Wow, did they mess up. I think his name is John Thain. Yes, that is it. I can’t believe he has the guts to show his face on TV. This guy, Thain was billed as a genius, one of the highest paid CEO’s at the time. Another kid genius like Jeff Skilling just like Enron, burn baby burn. This show should be good for a few laughs. The camera follows a nervous looking bunch of CEOs, you know the highly paid geniuses, that somehow will become magically stupid when asked questions, like what happened to the money. Now the camera focuses in on one John Thain, and he ironically looks like Clark Kent, but speaks in high pitch squeaky voice,which doesn’t match his physical frame or the $10,000 Italian suit he is wearing.

Congressman Barti is now looking at Thain and shaking his head like my pissed off Mother, when I left a mess in the Kitchen. “Why did you think you, and your follow Executives deserve bonuses, when you lost 15 billion dollars in the fourth quarter?” “THAIN: Congressman Barti, virtually all of the losses were from legacy positions that had already been there and the decline in the prices of those-positions. Did we-- did we continue to trade? Yes.

Did we put on-- big risky positions that-- were significant contributors to that $15 bill-- billion loss? No.” “BARTI: So there is no truth to any speculation that there was a further risk taken on, and you weren't upfront about it to Ken Lewis and that irritated him? “ “THAIN: Well, I-- I can't comment specifically on what irritated him. But-- the vast . majority of the losses in the fourth quarter was from positions that had been there since I started.” “BARTI: John, were-- so you were aware of these losses than in September when you did the deal with Bank of America? THAIN: Well, no, Congressman, the-- the-- in September the-- the positions where there. And-- the results-- we-- we obviously don't report-- we don't report results other than quarterly. But the market-- the market deteriorated

in both November and December.” “BARTI: John, I wanna ask you more about the-- the-- environment that we're in. But I've gotta ask you-- first about the office. You spent more than $1 million renovating your office; is this true?” “THAIN: Well, first of all, it-- it is true. This was a year ago or actually a little bit more than a year ago in a very differ-- different-- ec-- economic environment and a very different outlook for Merrill and the financial services’ industry. It was my office. It was two conference rooms, and it was a reception area. But it is clear to me in today's world that it was a mistake. I apologize for spending that money on those-- on those things. And I will make it right. I will reimburse-- the company for all of those costs.”

My god, what an affluent tree-house Thain built for himself. Sadly, it came crashing down on the public's head, but left him unscathed. He will even get to build another one.

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