Saturday, December 6, 2008

Get Rich Quick

My wife is a natural born entrepreneur.

This is a word that would give her some trouble as far as pronunciation goes, being foreign not only to Indonesian, but to English as well. It is not a word that rolls smoothly off the tongue—like moon, or mango, or salamat malam. Rather, it is a word hopelessly at odds with the rolling and trilling Indonesian language.

No matter—for the concept is in her blood, the way duck hunting is in a Labrador’s blood, or mousing in a cat’s. No need for verbalization. She has money in her blood, and of course it must come out and breathe the air of the wide world of possibility, for one can only sell just so much of the raw material to the Red Cross before anemia sets in.

Many a time have I pondered where the root of this proclivity might be found. Does it arise from a childhood of poverty in Jakarta? Does it come from her father’s ambitious, though sadly unrealized notions of status and rank? Or did she catch this particular bug in America, the land of the quick buck and the sly scheme? Are riches dreamed of sight unseen, or only after the feasting of the eyes?

The answers to questions such as these remain to this day wholly in the realm of my own imagination, for Louis is a woman of few words when it comes to the particulars of the forces by which she is driven. She keeps her own counsel. This is both a good thing, as regards the confidence of character (i.e. bull-headed will to go forward), and a bad thing, as shall later be seen in more detail.

The first opportunity to rise in the world to which I was privy (to the tune of ten thousand dollars) was her (which is our) entry into the business of real estate with Pastor Corey Pritchet,

More about that later.

The second was a pyramid scheme wherein one sells memberships in a company offering, ostensibly, free legal advice, which is, in keeping with proper balances and measures, worth exactly what it purports to be worth. The trick is that if the individual entrepreneur can get ten thousands friends, give or take, to sign on to monthly memberships, she will make for herself, oh, say, ten million dollars in the first six months.

I love money, money loves me.

These are the words to a song which is sung at ITTL (I take the lead) seminars.

We are magnets for money. It just keeps gushing in, threatening to choke us.

And now comes my personal favorite. Sex toys.

Yes. I do not know where she initially came up with the idea. Perhaps she was one of ten thousand signed on by another entrepreneur. In any case, one day Louis showed up at home lugging an enormous suitcase filled with penises and vaginas, love beads and love potions, strawberry flavored massage oil, whipped cream, hot pink things that look like minuture toilet plungers; things that hum, things that buzz, things that flash and crawl about like lazy ferrets.

I make a sex party! she says.

Uh . . . .

Now the funniest part of this is not the toys themselves, but the juxtaposition of the toys with the person of Sant Louis—sweet and innocent Louis, church-going Louis—the conservative, proper, level-headed Louis I know and love.

What does this one do? she wants to know.

I sure do love Sant Louis.

Via the inscrutable route of sex toys, we now arrive at Saudi Arabia, and one Mamdouh Al-Shimari. The latest road to riches is to be found in the trafficking of foreign exchange students. Mamdouh is the first, but there will be more coming, Louis promises.

Here is where I get stuck—early on, as always. I am guilty, as often judged, of an inability to see the big picture, to comprehend the vision.

But here’s the thing—I can’t get past the difficulty that seems apparent in the fact that we have only one three bedroom house and four people already living therein. Are we to pack these students in on the sort of racks they have in submarines? Will we have henceforth a mess hall rather than a dining room? Will we send to whole troop on Tuesdays to the laundromat, or just set up our own where the kitchen used to be?

You see, I am easily lost in the details. Money is not in my blood. I am not really sure what is. Multiple sclerosis for one thing—which itself is not amenable to being stretched, exercised, challenged, shaken, or agitated.

But these limitations do not fit into my wife’s vision. And it is for this reason—nothing personal—that I had best shut-up and follow her lead. Faith is not a synonym for success. It is very much more like surrender.

What, after all, do I have to lose?

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