Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Show me the money!

During the first few days of 2009, I had high hopes for my bank account. Things have been tight, to be sure, but the New Year, new President, and new national optimism would surely result in a few extra zeros magically appearing at the end of my check book balance. At the very least, I figured that Mr. Obama would stop by and give me a coupon to Denny's.

Alas, my grasp of economic theory has never been strong. Instead of watching my wallet swell with additional Grants and Franklins, I instead have been watching opera houses close, small businesses fall into financial ruin, and Britney Spears make a come-back – all horrific signs of an economy that now has the stability of expired cottage cheese.

Sadly, the time has long since passed when I prepared for such disasters by stashing sweaty dollar bills between pages 386 and 387 of "Anna Karenina" and plucked out my gold fillings for safe keeping in the toe of my left bunny slipper.

Still, always the optimist, I have decided to take this economic down-spiral as a chance to refine my craft. I have happily turned "Yes We Can" into "Yes We Can Subsist Solely on $1 Hot Pockets" as a way to really grasp the character of Mimi, sunken temples and all. Plus, the yellowish tinge to my skin has done wonders to highlight the jewel tones of my favorite ball gown, and my consumptive fainting fits as Violetta have never been more realistic.

Perhaps you think that I am approaching this economic crisis from a slightly skewed perspective. I simply should tighten my corset strings, hold my head and soft palate high, and get a regular job like the rest of you.

Pish and posh! Please do not offend my artistic sensibilities with such a suggestion! Hot pockets and scurvy are one thing, but a civilian job is something else entirely. Let me assure you that my wallet could never shrink to such a wasted shadow of its former self to require a step of such drastic proportions.

So, instead, I have come up with several cunning plans that will supplement a limited "-ina/-etta" income without betraying any operatic inclinations.

1) Find an elderly gentleman who keeps his cash safely stored in an old Bud Light bottle beneath his front porch. Transfix said gentleman with a rousing rendition of "Glitter and Be Gay" until he begins to asphyxiate, then take the money and run. If you feel guilty at such gold-digging behavior, remind yourself that "Candide" isn't really an opera and you can't be held responsible for your actions.

2) Lock yourself in the airplane bathroom during a transcontinental flight and channel Florence Foster Jenkins as you alternate between the high Es of "Durch Zärtlichkeit und Schmeicheln" and the high Fs of "Der Hölle Rache." By the second hour, the passengers will begin pushing tear-stained $50 bills underneath the door. Just remember to give the pilot ear plugs unless you want to make an unscheduled stop in the Atlantic Ocean.

3) Form a mafia family with your fellow opera singers and go to the mattresses against all of the a cappella groups in the country. If they refuse to pay monthly dues for "protection" against awkward harmony and flat singing, send them to sleep with the Rhine Maidens.

4) Rip out the pages of your least favorite opera aria anthology and sign each page as Johann Sebastian Bach. Dip them in a bath of jasmine tea and Slippery Elm cough drops for effective aging, and then sell those puppies on Ebay for $5,000 a pop. If anyone asks you, assure them that Bach did, in fact, write "The Rake's Progress."

5) Write a self-help book brimming with nuggets of operatic wisdom. Assume a suitably punny pseudonym and then sell it to other opera singers for an absurdly high price.

There you have it: five foolproof ways to beat the economic odds, all while maintaining your elegant opera singing persona.

But these are only the first five of hundreds of brilliant strategies, all described in full detail (with color illustrations) in my new book, "Lily Puns: Surviving the Hindenburg of Economic Recessions While Maintaining Your Charmingly Tremulous Trills," only $39.99 if you order now!

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Don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to solve your financial problems!

Will that be credit or debit?

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