Sep 17, 2005

blast from the past

My brother's added more to his plate: he's writing a book about dating. Back when I was a college lad, I had delusions of authorship. The following is an article I penned for my school's newspaper, with a few minor edits.
"There’s a sucker born every minute." --P.T. Barnum

I have figured out a fool-proof way to get rich.

I've failed at just about everything--Internet multi-level marketing, Amway, telethons, begging, armed robbery--but I've hit upon the mother of all gold mines, a sure way to vault myself to instant fortune, or at least pay off my college loans. What is the magical formula, you may ask? Self-help books, the key to financial success.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that the bestseller list is largely dominated by books designed for the average American moron. Walk into any Barnes and Noble or check out and you'll see row after row (or webpage after webpage) of books like Eat More, Weigh Less or Torture: the Easy Way. Pass any bus stop and you’ll see noses buried in Corporate Flunky No More! and Tying Shoes for Dummies. Visit any church and you’ll see Chicken Soup for the Soul next to the Bible on the back display. (Guess which one gets read more. Nope, you're wrong.)

I am a living testimony to the power of self-help books. The other day I picked up I Kissed Dating Goodbye by Joshua Harris. Mr. Harris has a lot of nice things to say, such as "Dating is a sin," and "Six things the Lord hates, seven sins including dates." While his skill as a poet may be meager, his heartfelt, emotional message will capture your heart and empty your wallet. It did both to me; not only am I thirty dollars poorer, but I haven’t been on a date since I came to LeTourneau. Remarkable, isn’t it?

Steven Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is another self-help classic I've had the privilege of stealing ideas from. Within a week of reading it, I thought up my scheme. Thanks, Steve! About the only one I haven't read is Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. It’s too difficult.

Self-help books work. Nothing will change your life like a couple million dollars in your bank account. Here’s my scheme. I’m working on a sure bestseller: Make Money Fast Writing Self-Help Books. It’s a guaranteed winner.

With such chapters as "Developing Your Jargon, or Unintelligibility Explained" and "Finding a Target Audience—the Broad Spectrum of Losers," or my central chapter, "Lying With a Straight Face," I can’t lose. In fact, I bet right now you’re thinking, "Gee, Winston, I would love to know how to write a self-help book, so I can be filthy rich! I've got to have that book!" Friend, I can accommodate you. Send $25 cash to CPO 161, c/o Winston Smith. You're going to thank me for it.
Yes, I wrote under a pen name. And yes, it's that Winston Smith. I blame the excesses of youth.

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