Some Day Soon

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

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Dexter Dalrymple had no idea why anyone would want to interview him. Who would care at this point what he'd have to say. Maybe his family and a few old friends, in deference to his age and wealth, hoping to find themselves in his will some day soon. But he had agreed to this interview and there he was now, at 82, sitting across from this financial reporter, a young lady, perhaps 22, the age of his granddaughter who had just graduated from college.

His granddaughter was the light of his life. He would leave all of his money to her if it wouldn't make everyone mad.

Dexter knew the only reason this young lady wanted to interview him was that he's worth roughly $5 million, the harvest of over 50 years of investing in the stock market, all on his own, with no advisor. A remarkable achievement, he realized, for a man who had dropped out of high school with more than a little shove from the principal.

"Investing in the stock market is easy," Dexter had once told a financial advisor who had sought his business, "provided you have the brains and the balls to do it right. It's no place for the chicken-hearted."

The advisor went back to the office without a new client but he had met someone he--and many other people over the years--would never forget whether they bought and sold stocks or not. Dexter was a character, right up there with W.C. Fields whose old films he loved to watch in his home theater.

Many times Dexter had told Penelope, his wife of 60 years, that the smartest thing he had ever done was to marry her and the second smartest thing he had done was to quit drinking and smoking.

"I may have had too many milkshakes since then but that's why someone invented statins--to keep my cholesterol down," Dexter would tell anyone in earshot, sometimes more than once a day.

Every man has at least one weakness or maybe two, and a daily milkshake at 3 p.m. was the last one Dexter would admit to in a long life of making big money, collecting cars and admiring women, not always from afar.

"What was the greatest moment in your life?" the young reporter asked in her opening question, pushing back the waterfall of auburn hair falling over her left shoulder.

Nice hair, Dexter thought, but not a very good opening question for a young financial reporter interviewing a millionaire. She was supposed to find out how he made all that money. He didn't plan to tell her everything--maybe a few things because she seemed like a nice person--but at least she could ask the right questions.

Dexter coughed and said, "I'll tell you the truth as long as you keep it between the two of us. The greatest moment in my life was the day I realized I was finally old enough that one woman was enough, that I could be faithful to one woman, my wife, and go back to the Church, and worship God the way I did when I was a kid in school and women weren't a distraction."

The young reporter looked befuddled because she had expected Dexter to tell her about some big deal he had made in the stock market. She knew he was one of the wealthiest men in America. He was a little odd, she knew, but in her young life she had already discovered that many successful men were a little odd in one way or another. But Dexter was on a roll now so she stayed silent and decided to let him finish.

"When I went back to the Church, " he said, "it was truly the greatest moment in my life. Better than making money or anything. To know that I could finally be faithful to my wife was a great satisfaction. I felt better doing that than making money. It's easy to make money. Not so easy being faithful. Not even with a milkshake every day.

"Remember now, this is just between the two of us. Don't put that in the paper and don't tell a soul. People will think I'm nuts. I know I'm nuts but why confirm it for the public."

The young reporter said there would be no need to include that information in her article. She simply wanted to know what Dexter had done to make millions of dollars without any formal education and without any financial advice.

"Most millionaires rely on a financial advisor to keep up with the stock market," she told Dexter. "What makes you different? Is it that you never give up?"

Dexter thought for a moment and then said that not giving up was very important because the stock market is the roller coaster the cliche would have it to be. One has to be in it for the long haul, know when to buy and when to sell. Never lose interest. Never stop, except maybe for a milkshake every day. And always keep an eye out for the next big opportunity.

"By the way, young lady, do you have any plans for lunch? I have a table over at the Mark IV," Dexter said, rolling his wheel chair toward the door.

"Years ago I owned that restaurant and sold it for a nice profit to a gentleman who said he would have a reserved table waiting for me for the rest of my life.

"Scallops are the special of the day on Friday. Or if you like steak, theirs is well marbled. Marbling is important, on steak or on a woman. But don't quote me on that.

"We can finish the interview over there. I hope you have a big notebook. I think I'll have quite a bit to say.

"My driver is waiting downstairs."

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Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
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