Sunday, June 07, 2009

Ham is where the heart is

From what I understand, if your baby is breathing air instead of goo, you’re already behind schedule in setting up the college fund.

This point was driven home recently by some friends whose son was accepted to a very good university, a school so prestigious that it rarely, if ever, advertises during Judge Judy.

“It costs $52,000 a year,” his mom said, and I wished I had been taking a sip of coffee at the time so that I could have spewed it across the room like a beluga whale, which is the only appropriate response to hearing a number so large attached to something that doesn’t have gull-wing doors or an eat-in kitchen.

Later that night, my wife Kara said, “ We’re going to have to start a college fund now. We don’t have much time before the baby will be here.”

The wedding ring hanging from her necklace glinted as if to emphasize the point. Kara is so pregnant that her wedding ring no longer fits on her finger. Some husbands might worry about guys hitting on a wife with a ringless ring finger, but I figure that a protruding, baby-filled belly pretty much renders a wedding band superfluous in the “fending off unwanted advances” department.

Tucking aside money for the next eighteen years sounds like a bit of a drag, but stretching to meet a perhaps impossible goal will at least keep us entertained. My buddy’s aunt recently won the lottery, and the jackpot was so large that her lawyer advised her to shut down her ham store so that her customers didn’t start hunting for excuses to sue her.

To say that my buddy’s aunt won’t have to worry about setting up a 529 College Savings account is to gloss over the fact that ham stores exist at all, which must surely indicate the zenith of a civilization.

“Wow, you own a store? What do you sell?” one would ask the ham store proprietor.

“Ham,” would come the response. “And, you know. Ham accessories.”

While winning the lottery might sound like it would make life exponentially more fun, I suspect that getting all that money at once would be a lot like putting in the cheat codes to get unlimited ammo for your rocket launcher in the video game Resident Evil 5. Once you’ve spent ten minutes indiscriminately launching rockets at your enemies, the fun quickly wears off, and you yearn for the simplicity of blowing off zombies’ heads with your plain old shotgun, the way nature intended.

After we discussed the mechanics of setting up a college fund without an assist from Powerball, Kara said, “Oh, and we’ll need life insurance, too,” which was perfect, because discussing life insurance is my favorite thing to do when I can’t find a cheese grater to lick.

Before we purchased our first house, back when a baby was something only old people and unwed teens worried about, Kara and I met with a financial advisor to make sure buying a house wasn’t a huge mistake. Our time would have been better spent talking to someone who might have noticed that every rainfall in that house created a water feature in the attic to rival the fountains at the Bellagio.

We ran out of things to talk about after the first week, but we’d paid for ten sessions, so the advisor spent the next nine weeks trying to sell us life insurance.

“Have you thought about what you’d do if Mike were to be involved in a horrible motorboating accident?” he’d ask.

“We don’t have a motorboat,” Kara would reply. On the way home, she’d say, “Dude, I never realized personal finance was so depressing.”

But maybe it’s about time for me to dust off his number and give that guy a call. Or dig out that cheese grater.

You can send Mike Todd your favorite ham accessory at


  1. Financial advisors are a scam because they're either trying to sell you their mutual funds or life insurance. It a total conflict of interest. It's like asking Dave Thomas where you should go for a real tasty hamburger.

  2. Don't forget, you'll need a will too!! Lots of fun stuff to look forward to :-)

  3. When we signed our life insurance policies, I told my husband that it was official: We were now "responsible grown ups". Didn't matter that we already had two kids and that I was in my mid-30s and he was pushing 40 ... it just wasn't official until we were worth more dead than alive.

    We rebelled by making happy-face pancakes for dinner.

  4. JP -- I should've guessed that a financial column would bring you out of the woodwork. Funny comment, and you're right. I bet he'd recommend the place with the square burgers.

    Jen -- Dude, I totally didn't think of that. Shatner.

    ZenMom -- Happy-face pancakes. Nicely done. Could you give them M&M eyeballs, or would that be redundant?

  5. Incredible. Have you ever read something but your mind wanders and you realize you've been reading but not processessing anything so you need to go back and read the page again? That is what happened with this column as soon as I read

    "shut down her Ham store"

    I've finally realized my place in life. I'm opening a Ham store. Tell me more about the Ham accessories.

  6. Perlson -- I totally just skimmed that comment. What were you saying again?

  7. @Perlson...

    If you ever want a mascot to wear a costume and advertize your store, I'm your guy.

    I was always a bit of a ham actor.

  8. lol @Perlson & JL

    Mike, personally I've always been of the opinion that you should make your kid pay for their own college education... or maybe that's just me being bitter :)

  9. Oh yeah, and extra points for mentioning the fountains of Bellagio.