Dear Giant Squid,
Should I go into business with my father-in-law?
Chris in Roanoke
My Dearest Chris d' Roanoke,
I am going to "apply the level" with you: Probably, no. But, to every "probably no" there is, like the yin's yang, a "but maybe yes," so let us approach the matter with the cold, concise logic of the consummate business person. Many years ago I had the good fortune to come into contact with just such a man-of-negotiations, a mister Barnyard Madoff who, to be quite frank, is possessed of a knack for the increasing of investment revenues which, in several West African nations, is even today admissible in a court of law as evidence of trafficking with "night dwelling evils" or other similar vandellas.
During this meeting, but prior to my transmitting to Mr. Madoff my business banking and routing information, we happened to speak on the topic of electing partners—Mr. Madoff is himself a noted family man, and takes in his employ several blood- and legal-kin—and I had the good fortune to be the recipient of his algorithm for determining the fitness of a possible business partner.
As an aside, Chris, I am glad that you have asked this question, for it has been, quite literally, ages since I have thought about dear Barnyard Madoff and my vast investments with him—they had increased astronomically throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, and I had lost interest in tracking them. I believe, once I have finished this column, I shall give him a call, for the sake of auld lang syne. Perhaps Rob can look up his phone number with his twittering Facebook of Internets?
In any event, Barnyard Madoff's Algorithm was as follows:
- Stare into the eyes of the possible partner unflinchingly for "Like, I dunno, a minute. More than a minute." Count the number of blinks—both yours and your prospective partner—and construct a fraction with your blinks as the numerator and the possible partner's as the denominator. (It is best to employ an arbiter in this step, in order to accurately count any and all "simultaneous blinks.")
- Ask the possible partner to jog in place for three minutes—"or do some push-ups—or clap push-ups!"—and time how long it takes him or her to construct a viable excuse for not doing so which does not hinge upon the limitations of his or her apparel. If apparel is cited as a limiting factor in the exercise, immediately suggest that it can be done in the nude. Begin to disrobe. Add the time to formulate an excuse (in seconds) to the numerator. If you have an opportunity to remove one or more garments during the excuse-formulation process, multiply the numerator (prior to adding the exercise-excuse second count) by the number of non-hat garments.
- Take the possible partner's heart rate; if it is not an integer, skip to step 6. It it is an integer, subtract it from the denominator. (Negative integers are acceptable.)
- Hand the possible partner a column of eight two- and three- digit numbers, and ask him or her to sum them. Time him or her. Set the sum of the numbers aside.
- Calculate your possible partner's "mean dimension": Ask him or her to think of someone he or she dislikes very much, but feels (or would feel) obliged to be polite to if they were to meet in a parking garage. Measure your partner's height and girth, add them to one another, and divide in half. Add half to the denominator, and the other half to the sums you set aside in step 4.
- Ask your partner for a blood and urine sample. Set these aside, and dispose of them appropriately after the candidate has left.
- If the perspective partner is related to your spouse by blood, but not related to you by blood, then quickly lash out with your hunting tentacles; attempt to injure the eyes or ears, then apologize, and insist, "I got no idea what came over me! None at all! Christ, I'm so sorry 'bout that!" Subtract 17,000 from the denominator.
- Take your fraction, divide it, and round it to the nearest whole number. Write it on the back of a business card. Place this business card, the column of numbers (with added sums), and your perspective partner's rings and wallet in one pan of a balance. In the other pan, place an "angel feather" (an actual angel feather is unnecessary; Barnyard advised using "a pigeon feather, or whatever you've, you know, just got around"—nonetheless, insist that it is an angel's feather). If the papers outweigh the feather, embrace the candidate. If the feather is lighter than the papers, then surreptitiously tip the balance and embrace the candidate.
- Check the candidate's FICO score; if it is above 700, then he or she is business-worthy. Ask for his or her banking and routing numbers, and note this for later reference.
It is, according to Barnyard, a system unfailing in its prognosticatory power—a claim which, if it is cast from a similar mold to those systems guiding his secretive, but unfailing, investment acumen, I believe with ardent heart, and grant full faith and credit.
My lab assistant, Rob, has returned from finding Barnyard's phone number, I presume; in any event, he has been very energetically waving of his arms for the past several minutes, and now insists I check the frontmost pages of New York's Times prior to committing this advice to the services; frankly, Rob, I cannot be bothered to run down each and every of the wild geese which catch your fancy.
I stand by my advice with complete and unquestioned confidence, as I stand by my financial advisor.
Your Giant Squid