I told y'all about the time I proved that democracy works, right? It happened a bunch of years ago, when I was "between projects" and living back home with my parents. My mom, always active in local education, had a Tupac/Biggie-grade beef with one of the candidates for the Board of Education, possibly over an unsent thank-you note. To that end, she insisted I vote in an off-year election for her enemy's opponent, who may have been mentally ill or a member of Aryan Nations for all anyone knew.
Because I'm a dutiful son and admire the discipline that grudge-holding demands, I did so. Wouldn't you know it: when I sought out the election results in the next day's newspaper, I learned that mom's white knight defeated mom's Darth Vader by a single vote - MY vote. In conclusion, that was the time I proved that democracy is but a pawn in the larger machinations of well-intentioned suburban mommies.
Alas, with each passing cycle, voting feels less like the privilege it is and more like a chore. So before I head out to the polls, I want to watch something that makes me happy. That something: "Saving For Skydiving," the warmest, funniest and most delightful installment in Fidelity Investments' series of "Personal Economy" videos.
I use "delightful" in the most literal sense of the word. This clip delighted the living crap out of me, creasing my face with a broad grin each of the four times I watched it. In "Saving For Skydiving," we're introduced to Marian Louise Teresa Sanger Barnett, one of those sanguine, bright-eyed 90-somethings you wish you were related to. Over the course of four minutes and change, she narrates an abbreviated version of her life story and relates how well she was served by a live-within-your-means personal economic philosophy. This philosophy ultimately allowed her to break open the change jar by the door and venture out on a skydiving expedition at age 90. In the clip's penultimate scene, we see footage from her jump; her facial expression suggests a purity of elation that's generally unachievable without chemical supplement.
Barnett's telling of her tale is lovely enough on its own, but Fidelity adds a wonderful wrinkle by having children act it out as she speaks. So we're treated to scenes of Marian entering the world as the ninth of 11 children (toy dolls serve as stand-ins for her siblings), Marian on her wedding altar (pulling back, perhaps out of concern for cooties, when newly anointed husband Fred attempts to seal the deal with a kiss) and Marian stunning him by whipping out her checkbook to pay for a car ("Freddy said, 'I didn't know we had that much money in the bank.' And I said, 'If you'd have asked me I'd have told you.'").
The scenery, costumes and… I guess you'd call it "acting"… are all grade-school-pageant-caliber - and, as such, line up nicely with the thrown-off feel of Barnett's monologue. The drawn-in mustache on the car salesman, the kiddie furniture that doubles as the skydiving plane interior and the modern-day swing set that serves as a playground backdrop all reinforce the sloppy charm so rarely achieve by videos of this kind. Yet because Barnett stays on point throughout the clip, you never lose sight of its central conceit: that "a great story is worth saving for." Gee, that sounds like a catchy slogan. I wonder if it's trademarked.
So yeah, if you need a feel-good booster shot, "Saving For Skydiving" - a brand video - is your unlikely salve. In the wake of watching it, I feel good about Fidelity Investments. I feel good about the "Personal Economy" virtues of thrift, common sense and not being a dumbass by buying stuff I can't afford. Most of all, I feel good about having spent a few minutes with the wonderful Mrs. Barnett. Few of us will age with anything approaching her level of grace, but that - even more than Fidelity's ideal of personal financial responsibility - is something to which we all oughta aspire.