Ladies and gentlemen, it's rough out there. I don't need to tell you that. A lot of folks have seen their savings go up in smoke the last couple years, and with unemployment soaring to almost 10 percent, it just makes sense to be a little bit wary and play things safe. It almost goes without saying that, in today's uncertain fiscal climate, it would be downright foolish to strip naked and run onto the field where your son's youth soccer team is playing.
You don't have to be an economist to figure that out.
Sure, the stock market is showing signs of life, and Obama's hinting that the worst may be over. But me, personally, I wouldn't go around wagging my half-erect penis before a group of horrified 11-year-olds just yet. Anyone who really understands the market will tell you that the key to this whole thing is caution. Even if the recession has run its course, as Ben Bernanke has projected it has, that doesn't mean it's safe to start disrupting your son's soccer game with the sudden, shocking appearance of your pale genitals.
Don't get me wrong, you don't have to get out of the game altogether. Like my broker says, even a market like this has a little potential if you're on the lookout. It's important to manage your risk, though. Sure, it's okay to flash your son's school bus now and again when you're certain it's far enough down the block, but it would just be reckless to wave your privates at his angelic friends while the Dow is still barely able to edge past 10,000.
Or if you're watching your son's soccer team scrimmage from high up in the bleachers with no other parents nearby, you might unzip and let your penis breathe for a minute—but no more than that, and only if you're sure you can cover it up quickly with a sweatshirt.
Look, I know it's easy to fall in love with a financial investment that feels like a sure thing. We've all done it. But we also learned the hard way that sure things don't exist. That's why you have to diversify. If you're the kind of person who'd never ordinarily display yourself to a woman walking alone in the park or to a group of Korean tourists at a rest stop, you might want to consider exploring those options. That way, when the market takes a dive—as it inevitably will—you haven't overcommitted to just one thing.
Bottom line, if you're going to take out your sex organs in public, you'd better be smart about it. After all, this isn't the '90s anymore, and the dot-com boom is long over, my friends. Last time we went through something this bad was the 1930s, and you can bet your 401(k) that nobody was flashing anyone for at least a decade or two after that. Does that mean we have to scrape by the way people did during the Great Depression, rubbing ourselves against young girls in soup lines and sheepishly exposing ourselves to wandering hobo children as they pass by on freight trains? No, not exactly. But if there's anything we can learn from our grandparents' generation, it's that you have to practice restraint so that, when things go south, you don't get caught with your pants down.
It's not always going to be this bleak, of course. Financial ups and downs are cyclical, and if you're patient, the economy is going to gradually become more conducive to robbing a number of preadolescents of their innocence in a single perverse stroke.
Still, some experts say that the recovery, whenever it happens, will never take us all the way back to where we were. Well, if that's the case, we'll just have to ride the upswing as far as we think it'll go and make a sane, clear-headed assessment of our options.
Then and only then will I decide what to do with my balls.