Trial Balloon

An Emotional Ponzi Scheme

Posted at 5:13 AM on February 10, 2009 by Dale Connelly (32 Comments)

Here's a Valentine's week excerpt from one of my favorite advice columns!

Dear B. Marty Barry,

I am the former CEO of a bank holding corporation, and I have been dating a hedge fund manager for quite some time.
For Valentine's Day two years ago, I gave my darling a romantic weekend in Jamaica, and she reciprocated with an expensive Italian bike.
Last year, I upped the ante and took her on a two week vacation to Spain, and she responded with the gift of a candy apple red Lamborghini.
Recklessly expensive, I know, but ... that's us!
We loved being in love in the no-cost-is-too-high Wall Street culture.
This year, things have changed.
My love has let it be known that she will show her devotion with a convenient case of amnesia should she be called to testify about some things I said to a group of investors last spring regarding the strength of my company's worthless stock.
I'm in Federal lock-up right now, but I was planning to send her a box of stale, waxy chocolates one of the guards is selling on the sly.
Her gift is a lot better. I'm worried that she'll be offended.
Is our relationship doomed?

Incarcerated in Carson City

Dear Incarcerated I.C.C.,

Yes, but it was doomed as soon as you adopted that tit-for-tat Valentine Gift policy. Your romantic economy was locked in an inflationary spiral of the worst possible kind, and a day of reckoning was bound to come.
It sounds like a global financial meltdown was all it took to scuttle your love boat.
The question is: how do you recover?
The box of waxy chocolates is a toxic asset. Nothing good can come of it, and yet someone is going to have to gulp them down and not complain about it before things can even begin to get better.
Perhaps your hedge fund manager is that person.
You might be surprised.
And if she's caught lying about your insider trading activities, she could wind up in the slammer right beside you before the year is out.
Wouldn't that be a lovely outcome?
Adjoining cells with free meals and lots of "together" (but still separate) time could be the ideal way for two lovebirds to ride out this financial storm. It could happen!
But then ... I'm an optimist!


B. Marty Barry.

Is B. Marty right?
Is it a sign that we have a lasting romance if someone can accept our lame gifts without complaining?

Comments (32)

Morning Heartlanders. I don't know if love helps you accept lame gifts, but I do know that I am no longer with the person who gave me a gift certificate to a paint/wallpaper store for Valentine's Day. He said he thought I would appreciate it since I had been talking about re-doing the upstairs hallway. It wasn't the last straw, but I certainly still remember it. Hmmmm. I can't recall I've ever heard any paint or wallpaper songs on radio before. Jasper has anything at his "fingertips"?

Posted by sherrilee | February 10, 2009 6:22 AM

Perfect! Thanks.

Posted by sherrilee | February 10, 2009 6:38 AM

Good Morning!

It's the thought behind the gift that can't be superseded by the gift itself. Like Sherrilee, I'm no longer with the person who viewed gift giving as a competitive event. Now that I'm swirling the financial porcelain, I'm very grateful that my sweetie isn't hung up on the price tag of the gift.

Perhaps Dale could play "I can't give you anything but love" and dedicate it to Jeanne for me? Not just because it's true but because it's enough!

Posted by Mark | February 10, 2009 6:43 AM

Hello Heartland,
To Mark - what a sweet sentiment. Jeanne is a lucky gal.
To Sherrilee - I'm in the process of painting walls/woodwork. Do you still have that dude's ph.#?
To Dale - It's windy in SD today also. Do you have Cat Steven's, The Wind?

Posted by Donna | February 10, 2009 6:50 AM

some of the lamest gifts i've ever gotten were from my dear Mother-in-law. the difference between her lame gifts and others was that she really put thought into hers. e.g. she KNEW we don't like white chocolate, so EVERY valentine's day she gave us something white chocolate. she knew us and loved teasing and we always got a big kick out of her gifts, even though most of them were useless, cheap little things she got at the "Ax Man" on University in St. Paul. her last gesture was dying on my birthday 15 years ago. her quest in life was to find a really, really dry Rob Roy when we went out. maybe "Scotch and Soda" for her? or "The Marvelous Toy"? we really miss her.

Posted by Barb in Blackhoof | February 10, 2009 6:57 AM

"Gee Baby, Ain't I Good to You?" was certainly "their song".

This year, all tardy gift givers are doomed if they wait until Friday to commence their searches for suitable gifts.

Posted by elinor | February 10, 2009 7:12 AM

Love the "Windy" song - just what I thought of when reading Donna's morning post. I'm gonna be late for work, just waiting for the song to finish!

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | February 10, 2009 7:24 AM

I had two different boyfriends break up with me on or just before Valentine's Day. Makes a girl a little paranoid - or at least if it's something about her bathing I long ago told my husband (back when we were dating) that the best gift he could give me was to not break up with me in February. I think he decided that it meant he should just stick around for another 50 years or so. And no wallpaper gift certificates - at least not yet.

Posted by Anna | February 10, 2009 7:28 AM

My favorite (pre-husband) Valentine's gift was from my mother when I was about 10. We didn't normally exchange gifts at our house. The kids did the exchange of cards/small candies at school in a fancy decorated box, but at home, we maybe had a nice meal or something. But one day I woke up and my mom had us go to the spare bedroom. There waiting for us was the craziest stuffed toy on bendable legs. I was so touched because I wasn't expecting anything. Those are the best gifts--ones you don't expect.

Now on Valentine's Day, my husband Moose and I always do the same thing we did when we first celebrated Valentine's Day 26 years ago--get a heart-shaped pizza from Davanni's (they make them this way especially for the day!!) and a bottle of Dubonnet. Then we curl up in front of the fire and watch a great movie--except we fall asleep much earlier than we used to!

Rob Roy:
2 oz of Scotch (usually light, not smoky)
1/2 oz d dry vermouth
1 dash orange bitters--optional
Cherry for garnish
Stir well with Ice and strain into prechilled cocktail


Posted by connie | February 10, 2009 7:59 AM

How about playing James Taylor's "Mockingbird"? He is quite persistent in promising just the right gift.

I'm a Libra, always looking for "balance", and gift-giving/receiving seems to be a never-ending game of rock-paper-scissors. I prefer giving and receiving gifts when the spirit moves, and not when they're expected.

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | February 10, 2009 8:05 AM

Greetings Heartlanders:

My sweetie and I don't usually have money for gifts or fancy dinners for each other -- we just buy each other our favorite chocolates (not Godiva, but not the stale, waxy stuff either) and maybe a small bouquet of flowers.

He loves sad, romantic movies so we'll watch one of those and cry together. And yes, it's a sign of lasting love when we accept lame gifts without complaining when the giver put the thought and effort into it. At least that's what my Mom taught me -- graciously accept all gifts -- lame or whatever, and be grateful.

Our song was Paul Simon's "I Only Have Eyes for You".

Your friend, Joanne J

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | February 10, 2009 8:06 AM

well, i guess i'm always looking for a way around the dilemmas of life---so for valentine's day, a few years ago when i went solo again, i named feb. 14 the cat's birthday, and it has solved all my valentine problems---the cat loves whatever i give her, no expectations, no romantic disappointment....:-)

works for me!

Posted by Kay H | February 10, 2009 8:20 AM

p.s. i want to email dale a request, but don't see on the website how to do that---could someone help me out? thanks.

Posted by Kay H | February 10, 2009 8:23 AM

i was out in the barn so missed the song (thanks Dale and Mike) but will catch it on the replay. Connie, thanks for the Rob Roy recipe but that 1/2 oz. of dry vermouth would be way too much.... like his Mother, my husband likes very, very dry drinks, but his is a gin martini. the best gift he ever got was not from me but from my friend. Sue gave him a little vermouth atomizer that sprays just a whiff of vermouth in the shaker.
sorry, didn't want to make this about drinking. :-) have enjoyed reading the comments this morning.

Posted by Barb in Blackhoof | February 10, 2009 8:23 AM

p.s. how do i send an email request to you, dale?

Posted by Kay H | February 10, 2009 8:24 AM

to Kay:

You have to go to the Main part, or Radio Heartland link on top of page. From there, look at the weekday schedule on left .... it will say Dale Connelly show and a couple lines down is the link to make a Request.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | February 10, 2009 8:28 AM


At the top of this page click on The Dale Connolly show then go to the right side and find the link that says...Request a song on the Dale Connelly Show!

That should get you there....

Posted by Kate | February 10, 2009 8:33 AM

Hi Kay,

There should be a button at the Radio Heartland web address (
You can always just send it directly to me at

Posted by Dale Connelly | February 10, 2009 8:34 AM

thanks, everyone!

i've never actually made a request before, but will in honor of my 50th birthday next monday :-)

(i had been planning on it for ages, then was so sad when the morning show ended, and rejoiced when the dale connelly show began)

Posted by Kay H | February 10, 2009 8:39 AM

Hey Barb,

I am a dry Bombay sapphire martini person myself and like just a whiff of vermouth, but as per the Playboy Bartender's Guide (and how could THEY be wrong), that is the ratio. It is a dry Rob Roy because a Rob Roy usually has sweet vermouth. The directions have the ratio has 1 & 1/2 oz of the scotch instead of 2 oz, so my recipe is dryer. It just sounds like a lot of vermouth until you realize it is only 1/4 oz to 1 oz of scotch. The vermouth transforms the drink or else one would only be drinking scotch.:)

Posted by Connie | February 10, 2009 8:48 AM

Well I've been trying all the recipes here and I just don't know that they are very good breakfast drinks


Posted by Mark | February 10, 2009 9:01 AM

Kay -- thanks for making me laugh. And for making me remember the Valentine's Day (after departure of paint/wallpaper guy) when I bought donuts with red and pink sprinkles for the dog!

Posted by sherrilee | February 10, 2009 9:13 AM

sherrilee, my pleasure, and back at you for the painting the living room song---captured my mood perfectly as a struggled awake...

Posted by Kay H | February 10, 2009 9:18 AM

Hi Dale and Heartlanders.

How about a mug or teeshirt with I (HEART) Heartland or I (HEART) Heatlanders?

Dale, So glad you're back. This morning's "introspective" section was really good! and perfectly punched with Le Reel Des Soucoupes Volantes - - - perhaps the pulling the punch with Alvin was designed to bring one back to the absurd.

Posted by Claire in St. Paul | February 10, 2009 9:49 AM

Hey Mark! My mother made a rule for my Dad, that he could not drink alcohol before noon. Of course, on those few days when he circumvented the rule, his excuse was that it's before noon somewhere in the world!

My father was never anything resembling an alcoholic, but he did enjoy fine alcoholic beverages -- in moderation of course.

But then, some of those recipes look pretty tempting. In my disco days, I would nurse a dry Tanqueray martini or two for the evening between long bouts on the dance floor ....

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | February 10, 2009 10:01 AM

Just an elbow to the DJ or Jasper -- the streaming online of Radio Heartland is sounding garbled and cuts in and out a lot. FYI ...

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | February 10, 2009 10:51 AM

Today's rebroadcast doesnt' sound anything like it's listed in today's Playlist. Anyone agree with me?

Mark, how did those breakfast drinks work out for you?

Posted by Jennifer | February 10, 2009 11:24 AM

When I heard Paul Simon's "Graceland" I thought it was odd to hear that 2 days in a row (not that there's anything wrong with that). But now hearing Allison Krauss and Robert Plant and Dale mentioning the Grammy's, I realized it's a re-broadcast of yesterday's re-broadcast.

Posted by Mike from Albert Lea | February 10, 2009 11:33 AM

Right you are, Heartlanders. Thanks for pointing out that JASPER is actually playing yesterday's rebroadcast...which would be fine...if it were yesterday. Our "JASPER Swat Team" is on it.

Posted by Mike Pengra | February 10, 2009 11:54 AM

It's noon now and JASPER has decided to play last FRIDAY's hour 2 rebroadcast of the Dale Connelly Show instead of today's. So if you're having deja vu, this is why. Why not settle back and pretend it's Friday of last week? The Swat Team is hard at work.

Posted by Mike Pengra | February 10, 2009 12:08 PM

That's fine with me-- do we get another weekend??! Thank you All-Powerful Jasper!!

Posted by Amy in St Paul | February 10, 2009 12:50 PM

Sounds to me like JASPER has been having some of the breakfast drinks!

As for me, they might have been better if I hadn't had them on my corn flakes :-)

Posted by Mark | February 10, 2009 1:50 PM

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