The First Time

Yesterday I saw a TV commercial featuring Roberta Flack.

The last time I had heard her name was about a 6 months ago and was in regard to a dispute over her residence in the famed Dakota building in New York. Allegations of racism, inconsistent application of the rules and a use of an un-approved shade of off-white in the main foyer were all factors in the flack.

No pun intended, but a quick Google search indicates that others are not apologetic for the use of that obvious disambiguation. I feel somewhat ashamed in sinking to that level, but I hate editing.

Like most commercials, either I wasn’t listening terribly well or the product’s message was incredibly well concealed, so I have no idea what she was pushing.

Maybe renter’s insurance, but that would just be a guess. I’m really not certain what it would be about Roberta Flack that would compell me to buy anything, but then I’m not an advertising genius, just a discerning consumer.

But I certainly remembered the background music of her hit song “The First Time Ever I Saw your Face”.

So many things flashed back to me as I focused on the song rather than the product.

John Wayne GacyThe other day after watching an episode of COPS, Sugar Momma and I discussed that often used remark “this certainly wasn’t his first time”, when referring to someone caught commiting a crime.

In reality, even career criminals must have had a first time crime. Even John Wayne Gacy, Michelle Bachmann’s home town hero must have had a first make-up session and a first ritual murder experience.

Just as someday Rep. Bachmann will correctly make her first historical reference.

But obviously we all have to start somewhere and then take it from there. Sometimes it’s the start of a lifelong love affair, other times it takes you nowhere and even the memories won’t bring you back.

First record album? Herman’s Hermits

First baseball game? Mets versus Cubs in the Polo Grounds

First broom job? Consuela.

First stock purchase? Raytheon

Some of those firsts you take on with great joy and elation. I played that Herman’s Hermit album until it was just a non-grooved flattened piece of vinyl. But now the wall poster is long gone and there’s not too much longing on my part for tickets to any Herman’s Hermits reunion that might be in the offing

Still a lifelong Mets fan though. There’s not much rational reason for being so, but so often your first isn’t based on logic or rational thought. It’s based on opportunity or the need to fill a void.

And the Broom? Bronzed and enshrined, even though Consuela was deported long ago.

The other day we found a video of my son’s first birthday celebration. He was sitting in a high chair and Szelhamos was allowed to give his first grandson a real birthday treat.

His first tastes of birthday cake and Coca Cola.

The looks on his face were really those of pure and unadulterated joy, as opposed to the broom job’s adulterated joy.

Other first time occasions you may enter with trepidation.

Who knew you could do such things with a broom?

Trepidation was definitely a mild way of putting my feelings on the prospects of entering that first stock trade. What made it even more difficult was that in the days before online brokerages and complete anonymity, you actually had to speak with someone to take and execute your order.

It was embarrassing being a stock virgin and now everyone at Fidelity knew.

While my first stock was Raytheon and I only held it for a few days, yet long enough to make about $1200, back in 1982 or so, I’ve never gone back to the Raytheon well.

After that first trade I felt like I was ready for anything, but not for Raytheon again.

Despite some moments back when the Patriot Missle System was getting rave and then not so rave reviews during Dessert Storm, I’ve always resisted the temptation of purchasing new Raytheon shares.

I guess I just want to preserve the memory of the Summer of ’82.

I don’t want to sully those great images by buying again and ending up with a loser.

P.S. Note to self. No reunions. Ever

I still remember the first time I sold a call option. It only took me about 20 years of convincing myself that it was a sound strategy. Trepidation turned into elation and more trades than I care to admit to.

I also remember the first time I sold a put option. Lots of trepidation, but I’ve been slowly adding that to my bag of tricks. At the moment, I’m on the hook to purchase many shares of Spreadtrum Communication, but the risk-reward seemed so good.

Too good to ignore.

At this point I don’t look for many firsts. In fact, I tend to keep my investments limited to a list of about 50 stocks or so, constantly repurchasing shares when proices return to more rational levels. In Option to Profit, I prefer to those  stocks as my Old Reliables.

Every now and then I introduce a new holding and even though I generally take baby steps, I still do so with trepidation.

I recently purchased shares of McCormick and Co. and the ProShares VIX and more nervously track those than much larger holdings. Even though that seems illogical, that kind of irrational behavior is just a part of human nature.

Today the market seemed to be propelled by the ADP jobs reports which caught everyone by surprise with 150,000 new private sector jobs having just been added. Although the official government tally is released tomorrow, ADP ruled the day with their report of many more jobs coming on line.

But it wasn’t too long ago that ADP released its report for public consumption for the very first time. Even though its concordance or correlation with the official numbers isn’t always as strong as you would like, it’s taken its rightful place among the continually released economic reports that drive the markets crazy.

While government reports are well established and the flaws in their methodologies well know, they still bring fear into the hearts of investors. A simple report can drive the markets in wild directions. If you’re on the losing end of that movement you rarely take solace at the subsequent month’s adjustments. The fact that those adjustments may completely nullify the very report that drove your stock holdings into the crapper is no comfort..

Somehow that doesn’t seem right.

But not everything that’s done for the first time has to seem right. It just has seem right at the time.

After all, why else would you consent to a broom job?