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The gopher feet and football card retirement plan

I'm a little concerned about my retirement, which is a lot closer these days than I ever thought it would be. This concern used to be a nagging tooth-achey kind of concern. You know that kind of pain. It comes and goes. It's here. It's gone.

And then you're years older, and although it still comes and goes, now, when it comes, it stays a lot longer.

This nagging retirement feeling comes at a bad time. It's a bad time for me. It's a bad time for Social Security. Both of us are getting older, much older, truth be told, than we ever either of us thought we would be. Neither of us is as healthy as we used to be.

Me? I'm not as healthy as I used to be, but I'm a lot healthier than the Social Security fund is, which is a dubious advantage, really. Being healthier than something that's dying, what's that worth? Of all the rotten concerns that people -- me, my kids -- have to face, that is a huge one.

Frankly, I think that the Social Security system needs a good prostate examination. My doc says I need one every year now, so I say: "Hey. What goes around comes around."

Sure, I know there's no possibility of digitally examining Social Security, but as a sure second choice, I'd like to submit every politician in Washington, D.C., for one, and since prostate exams are so much fun, hope for a doctor with big hands.

These are the same politicians who haven't done anything to the Social Security Administration since the 1950s, which is when these chicken-hearted excuses for representatives of the people came up with the "Notch." Under this heartless plan, they raised Social Security payments for retirees, but, just so the increased deficit couldn't be blamed on them, they delayed the payments to fall during the next administration, and left some people out of the increase. The "notch."

My dad, who fell into this notch, is somewhere up in heaven right now. I'm sure he's noticing that not many of these "representatives of the people" made it up there to make life any more miserable for him and his age bracket than they already had.

So I'm not counting on the Social Security system. As fast as it's aging, and running out of money, I and it are in a race to see who goes broke or dies first. In light of this, I've gone ahead and developed my own retirement savings plan. First, several years ago, I invested in a box of Joe Montana football cards, each of which contained a defect that should, the experts told me, make the card extremely valuable someday.

Unfortunately, I had no more than purchased the cards and cornered the market on them when Joe Montana fell down beneath a 300-pound lineman and became defective himself. Nevertheless, if he can resist advertising sexual enhancement drugs and veggie blenders for a while more, these should take care of my first month of retirement.

Since the fickleness of football cards is fairly fleeting, I also have Plan B. When I was a small boy, two front pocket gopher feet were worth the enormous sum of one dime. Now they're worth nearly two bucks, and going up. (Much faster as a percentage than the Dow.) These little menaces reproduce pretty well, so there's no limit to this plan.

So, for the past several years, I've kept all the gopher feet that I've caught. Through persistent effort and despite the fact that catching gophers is even harder than catching politicians telling the truth, I've set several traps during the summer.

The good news? The township bounty keeps going up. The bad? These little buggers are so clever that I can only catch a dozen or so a year. They're especially troublesome to trap in the winter. I never catch any then.

There's more bad news: I keep the front feet in the freezer, waiting for the market to peak, at which point I will sell. But my eyes aren't so good anymore, and I may have mistaken them for walnuts and ground them up and baked them into a cake for church. That, I tell you, put quite a dent into my retirement plans, to say nothing about a sudden cooling attitude from the Christians, who seem to have all suddenly sworn off Sunday cake.

I guess I'll have to borrow some money to buy more traps, and put off retiring a bit longer. At least, I'm doing as well at trapping gophers as politicians are at politicking, and I'm just really getting started.

That's not very reassuring, suddenly.