the ever-expanding lifestyle of those who "Live Large!" poses a growing threat to us wee folk who, through circumstance or choice, live small. More, it seems, is never enough.But, hey, if you can't beat 'em you can stay up all night and call the 1-800 number advertised on TV by the steely-eyed man with a crewcut. They'll call you back -- two or three times even -- to make sure you'll be attending Russ Whitney's From Rags To Riches Through Real Estate seminar.
No problem meeting the admission requirement. My collection of pedigreed rags includes a fetching getup worn to tatters by the Little Match Girl Who Died in the Snow. As usual, I am overdressed.
The rest of the people lining the corridor in the Skydome Hotel are wearing their everyday nondescript clothes. They'll get rich and look just the same. But when I'm rich I'll put on a weightless golden gown woven by busy mice and embroidered by clever rats (escaped lab rats, of course -- sewer rats are too temperamental).
It's a very mixed crowd, all ages and ethnicities. A fellow is attempting to impress a young woman who attends university. "Do you like art? Have you heard of Salvador Dali? I'm related to him. Really!"
"You're gonna process 200 people in half an hour?" demands the stock- character skeptic/nutter. The wranglers herd the crowd, which includes just as many women as men, with the ubiquitous "C'mon, guys. Get a name tag, guys."
Once seated, we're treated to a video of testimonials. After watching 20 minutes of gloating corpulent profiteers I'm feeling nauseous. Maybe it's jealousy. I wish something as simple as owning millions of dollars' worth of real estate could bring my husband and me closer together, and closer still to our kids, Randy and Rodney.
Then Dino tells us guys, "Repeat after me: Good evening." I'm impressed by the half-heartedness of this crowd. Maybe only those who are biologically guys responded. Next, a clip of our hero, as seen on TV. From a blurry shot of Russ Whitney as a slaughterhouse worker to a bright snap of millionaire Russ with the whole family, and a vehicle each, in front on one of his many properties.
Russ himself is not here tonight. He must be extremely busy, in charge of training 8,000 people a week to go out and buy up property, with a new operation opening in Britain and a global training centre set for Costa Rica.
In bounds our fast-talking host, Ken, whose last name just flies by. "How many of you are sick and tired of being sick and tired?!" We just sit there and stare at him. He flashes some slides, a place he owned in the Caribbean. "It rents for $4,000 a week. Cool, huh? I love real estate!" He's pumping hard. "How many wanna play?" A couple of hands go up a little. "What's the sound of money?" Silence. "Ch-ching! The sound of money is ch-ching!" Then he tries to make us say it.
Ken tells us that buying real estate is a return to the creativity of childhood. "When you start thinking out of the box, you start to live again." Gee, I've never been accused of being a conformist before. Or is he just being tricky? "Yeah, I'm different! I want to be rich!"
Right away he tells us you can buy cheap in Winnipeg. he says buy "ugly." Of course, my antiquated aesthetics get in the way. I like the look of the so-called ugly old places. I think Toronto condos are ugly.
I won't go into details. Copyright, and OK, I was glazing over when we learned how to get that $7,500 down payment with no cash of our own. Frankly, a lot of the examples are ludicrous, living, as we do, in a town that already went through a speculation frenzy in the 1980s. Creating rooming houses with rooms for $70/week? Get on the Net and look up Arkansas! Then you can write off your trips to collect rent as a business expense. Even though "We don't like tenants... tenants are old technology," they can allow you to live on your yacht in the Caribbean or in the south of France.
I'd sure love to see some of them big old American real estate millionaires trying to hang on to their wallets in the tough town of Marseilles.
But I can't go. I don't have the money. And, although I once was willing to pay ($1) for a prairie ghost town, I have no intention of emulating the two Regina gals (guys) who "wrote their business plan on a beach in Bali" and are now ready to "kick butt in Regina." Great. They'll buy up all the ghost towns, ruin them with paint and auction them off in Japan.
"You snooze, you lose, Sheila," exclaims Ken when I'm the second person in my section to turn down a hypothetical good deal. I'm still on "Every dollar you have is a soldier that works for you" and all its unsavoury associations.
I join the losers' rush for the door while the future big acquisitors sign up for the three-day intensive workshop that they'll pay off with their first "ugly" buy. There goes Hamilton.