Billie Jo McAllister and AIG Haunt Me

I was at the grocery store last week. I do that much more often these days, as I feel that’s the least I can do to show my thanks to my Sugar Momma. I’m usually prowling the aisles at about 4:18 or so, giving myself a couple of leisure minutes to leave home after the closing bell.

My wife still ridicules me, because I call it “Grocery Store” and not “Supermarket” or “The Market”. I also refer to our local grocery bohemoth, Giant, as “Grand Union”, a defunct chain that we left behind in New York nearly 20 years ago.

To her discredit, she refers to TV stations as “numbers”, as in “let’s see what on the numbers”. She also derides my reference to single family detached homes as “private houses”.

So whose side are you going to take?

But I grew up in a time when grocery stores didn’t have parking lots, nor product selection. Every woman pulling one of their personal folding shopping carriages looked like an old lady, regardless of actual age.

Now, everyone drives and those carriages aren’t even allowed in the grocery store, and you don’t have to be wealthy to live in a single family detached house.

But while mindlessly shopping last week and dutifully crossing off the items on my carefully crafted list, the ersatz overhead music was a familiar tune that I hadn’t heard in years.

Ode to Billie JoeRemember Bobbie Genrty? The big haired Country and Western singer who had a crossover song that made her, I think, a one hit wonder. That song was with “Ode to Billie Joe”, the sad song about teenage suicide and a hidden secret.

“Was the third of June, another sleepy dusty delta day…”. Does that ring a bell?

Well, I haven’t been able to get that song out of my head for the last week. Humming it, singing it and whistling all through the day, until I hear the expression “Stop, you’re giving me a headache”.


Today was another one of those sleepy dusty delta days in the market. It was unnecessarily hot, humid and boring. As far as delta goes, unlike other wizened options traders, I don’t believe in The Greeks.

The tease of some early upside was just that. A tease. As many other days in the past two weeks the optimism evaporated. Almost made you want to do something rash, but fortunately, I’m restricted to the basement and the windows have been filled in with cinder blocks.

Yesterday I was pretty excited about the opportunity to pick up additional shares of Textron, S&P SPDR, BP, Williams-Sonoma and some others that escape me right now, in anticipation of quickly sellng some weekly call options.

But the market just seemed to want to do nothing but jump off that Tallahatchee Bridge.

And you want to know what’s happened to my appetite?

To do so, you’ll just have to download the lyrics.

Truth is, I wasn’t fully into the markets today anyway.

For today was the day my youngest son was heading out to Army basic training.

On my side of the family, he’s first generation American. We have no military history in my own family. We were the people typically rounded up by soldiers, so it’s a very foreign concept for me.

There were lots of little things that needed to be done today that took precedence over the markets. As it was, I was still sore from moving him out of his off campus apartment and was dealing with themuscle spasms from working that carpet cleaner machine over one of the filthiest carpets I’d seen since my own student days.

Even though I know that I can easily enter my order criterion and have them executed without my presence, I like the thrill of pushing the button and the anticipation of watching the trade get completed. So not too much got done.

Today, I did make some early call sales in those SPDR’s and Freeport, but the others that I was hoping would materialize, never did, as the market was unable to survive that leap.

There was also that overhang of where the AIG re-IPO would price. WIth the government’s break-even point set near $28.60, it seemed likely that the whisper number was going to be $29. Why people slowly worked the closing share price to $29.60 is as unclear as the nature of the object Billie Joe and his girlfriend threw off the bridge before his fateful plunge.

What was also unclear was why I didn’t sell an AIG weekly call on Monday, when AIG was above $30, particularly when talk of a $29 price was already making the rounds.

Or maybe the fact that I didn’t just sell my AIG position outright haunts me, as AIG has opened the morning at about $28.30

What really haunts me is that I ignored the warning signs. WHy in the world would E*Trade be a co-manager of this issue? Maybe because no one other than a sucker would want to buy it?

Yopu certainly wouldn’t pick up shares to ingratiate yourself with E*Trade for a shot at their next “big IPO”.

I’m not even certain why I care so much about AIG. It represents only a small portion of my portfolio, but it haunts me and my 0.0023% of the current outstanding AIG float every bit as much as much as Billie Joe’s plunge haunted that nice young preacher, Brother Taylor.

But as opposed to the predictably melancholy outcome of a Country and Western song, tomorrow is another day. AIG may haunt me now, but could just as easily profess itself to me.

Either way, the Ode of AIG will someday come to its conclusion. These things always do. Yet, Billie Joe McAllister still remains a complete mystery and will for all time.

Life still goes on. Even though Papa caught a virus that was going ’round and died last Spring, and Momma (not my Sugar Mommma) doesn’t seem to want to do much of anything, it’s got to be different for us.

I hugged my child yesterday as we dropped him off at the hotel right outside the base from which they will be leaving tomorrow at about 4 AM. I know that he will be a very different person the next time I see him.

As it turned out, I saw him 2 hours later, as he called to say that he left his phone charger at the house.

Not so different. Maybe a little taller.

So tomorrow is back to normal, I’ll be carefully watching how the Ode to AIG works out and will try extra hard to squeeze some income out of these ridiculously priced stocks.

Billie Joe is lucky he never had these kind of problems.