OK, folks, let's open the mail. Here are four letters that have to be ripped up and thrown into the garbage, unread. They are from companies offering low-interest credit cards and a lifetime of anxiety, guaranteed. I used to have so many credit cards I had a shirt made out of them. It was bullet proof. Underneath, my heart went boom-boom with terror. I had enough credit to make an independent film, take it to Sundance, score big, pay back all my debts and buy a manse in Park City. I never made the film, charged all kinds of electronics instead, plugged them in and then dropped them all into my bath where I fried like an ode to cheap money. That look of guarded despair you see in the eyes of strangers is debt. There used to be curiosity there, now it's just debt. You name your dog Greenspan, but it doesn't help. The vet charges a fortune.

The next four letters are also from credit card companies, but you can't rip them up. They are bills, once just offers, now sheer terror. Let's see, what did you do? You went to the grocery store eight times and spent about sixty dollars each time. Three mediocre restaurants got you for three hundred. The spinach leaves were wilted and the shrimp tasted vaguely of petroleum. You sent back the tough veal and got a broiled leather vest instead. You shot the cook and are out on a million-dollar bail that you put on your credit card. And they still charged you for the food. A certain piece of necessary furniture, either a chair or a dresser, it's hard to remember now, was eight hundred, cheap for the money. Tickets for four to a dreadful play, two hundred dollars. The play was about a thief who steals somebody's credit cards (yours) and goes on a shopping spree. Intrigued by the purchases that show up on his bill, the victim goes in search of the thief and falls in love with her. Together they steal somebody else's credit cards (yours) and they are tracked down, in turn, by the new victim who falls in love with them. The thieves multiply as the play unfolds and end up living in a love commune in a secret location, without credit cards. They grow their own food.

There is only one more letter in the mail, from a company offering you your own credit report (for a fee). If you are like most people, you have no idea how much you've spent, how much you owe or how you are regarded by the credit card companies trying to sell you more credit. You are just like your country, optimistic, in debt and clueless. Here comes Greenspan, with the next day's mail. Good dog.