A Name is a Terrible Thing To Waste

Dear Friends,

Many of you have asked, "How did Debbie and you do it? How can two poorly paid educators with three consumption-crazy kids retire at 40?"

It's simple. Instead of cashing in our chips, we cashed in our names.

By marketing to the max all things Hans, my wife and I can lead the leisurely lives we've earned while imposing only the slightest inconvenience on our kids. All of us enter this brave new global family marketplace with new identities, collectively and individually, so allow us a moment to reintroduce ourselves.

Say goodbye to the Hans Family and hello to your State Farm Good Neighbors. As in the past, we'll be there for you when you need the ladder or a cup of sugar. But now when you seek a fourth for bridge, we'll send State Farm's agent Manny in our stead. Hey, he's a "good neighbor," too!

We've christened our three-bedroom colonial the Dutch Boy Happy Home. Should you forget the new name, just drive by. The moniker is conveniently painted on the front of the house in bold emerald green against a parchment-beige background. Twenty years from now, when our neighbors' facades have faded badly, the Dutch Boy Happy Home· will shine on brightly.

Fido, our loveable, dim-witted terrier who never answered to Fido anyway, is now the Kibbles & Bits Family Pet. He's even more loveable with his shiny new coat, compliments of the Protein Power· packed in every tasty morsel of Kibbles & Bits Supreme, the canine cuisine for dog owners who care.

I'm delighted to announce that my beloved is now Bayer's Better Half. Raising children amid the insanity of modern suburbia can give even a bona fide Supermom a headache. Next time you suffer the mother of all migraines, do like Bayer's Better Half: Reach for a Bayer.

As MasterCard Man of the House, I'm tickled pink that every day has become Groovy Golf Pants Day. Did I mention MasterCard is accepted wherever plaid slacks are sold?

We're so proud of our 18-year-old chemistry whiz, who used to answer to "Davey." As Harvard's inaugural Crest-bright Fellow·, for the next four years he'll wear the Crest sweater with pride to every class and college function. The Crimson will be whiter than ever (the teeth, friends, the teeth) with the Crest-bright Fellow· dispensing free samples of that minty, plaque-blasting paste. And won't the coeds coo when he crisscrosses campus crying "Floss fiercely, Harvard. Brush, brush, brush!"

We're particularly pleased Mattel has recognized the mass appeal of our eight-year-old, the former Samantha. As the breathing embodiment of Bull Market Barbie, she's attending third grade in power suits that shout "Look at me! I'm a Wall Street player!" Now you're probably thinking eight is too young for breast implants. But when Mattel sweetened the pot to get that realistic look, we couldn't say no. You go, Bull Market Barbie girl!

Our 16-year-old, whose birth name is on the tip of my tongue, has had the easiest adjustment of all. As Bingy, the newest creation of Budweiser ad genius DDB Needham, he just has to keep doing what he's been doing since he turned 14: get drunk every weekend with his buds. And since he already looked a little like a lizard anyway, a few surgical nips and tucks was all it took to complete the transformation. Hey Bingy, Whass-uppppp?!

I do feel a twinge of regret that the good name of Hans is no more. But you know, friends, even if I kept it I wouldn't be able to take it with me. All I could do is pass it on to the same kids who tried to milk me dry.


MasterCard Man of the House

p.s. Worry no more about the church rebuilding fund. While I still can't fathom why our pastor let the "Act of God" insurance lapse during hurricane season, let us thank the Market we live in an age where the Almighty isn't the only provider. We'll have Bingo and boxing seven nights a week at Trump Church of the Redeemer.

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