Most of us ordinary "working stiffs" have the same long-term financial goals: decent homes, college educations for our children, adequate retirement incomes and humongous servant-infested luxury yachts, where after a few drinks we can amuse ourselves by trying to hit coastal villages with mortar fire, safe from legal reprisal because we virtually own the state legislature.

Yet, most of us have no idea how to achieve even these basic financial objectives. In fact, most of us have been bombarded with bad advice about how to handle our money, such as: "Don't put it in your mouth!" Your mother told you this, right? It turns out to be wrong. You take the famous Hunt brothers of Texas, who are so rich that they once tried to buy all the silver in the entire world and failed only because they ran out of closet space. Here's how they amassed their fortunes: Whenever they got some money, they would put it in their mouths, and this way they never had to pay for anything. They'd get the bill at a restaurant, and they'd start to pull out their drool-drenched wads, and the waiter would say: "Never mind!" And before long they were rich beyond comprehension, although one of them, "Bunker" I believe, definitely paid a price in terms of head shape.

But you have to take risks if you want to make money. This is why I think it might be a smart move for you to withdraw your life savings and invest them in the stock market. The market offers many excellent opportunities right now, despite the recent revelation that every single person connected with Wall Street in any capacity whatsoever, including hot-dog vendor, is a criminal. It has reached the point where armed agents of the Securities and Exchange Commission routinely patrol the streets of lower Manhattan in taxicabs, shooting suspected members of the financial community on sight, because the federal prison system is already severely overcrowded with stock traders, jammed one and sometimes even two to a suite, rhythmically banging their cellular mobile telephones against the vertical window blinds.

Most of these people were imprisoned because of the testimony of Mr. Ivan Boesky, a major trader who in 1986 was charged with six counts of looking like a large prehistoric insect.

No, just kidding, of course; only five of the counts were for that. The other one was for "insider trading," which is when you buy or sell a stock in a company based on knowing something about the company, such as what it does. This is illegal. You are not allowed to have any concept of what activities any given corporation is involved in, which is why they all have changed their names to things like "AmeriTechnoCorp -- A Subsidiary of TechnoMeriCorp, which is a Subdivision of Corp-a-Tech-o-Rama, which is a Minor Appendage of Techs 'n' Corps 'R' Us, which, in the Overall Scheme of Things, is a Benign Polyp on the Small Intestine of T. Boone Pickens."

This is definitely the kind of forward-looking corporation that you, the Small Investor, will want to invest your life savings in. You'll find that stock ownership has many advantages. For one thing, you actually become a "part-owner" of the company, which means that you can attend stockholders' meetings, vote for corporate officers, and, if the corporation owns a commercial airline, which all of them do these days, you can actually fly the planes yourself over midwestern states. Also you get the fun of following your stock's performance by looking it up in the financial pages, where you'll find it listed by its nickname along with several numbers, like this: DaDooRunRunCo 81 10/8 18 5/8

I realize these numbers may at first seem mysterious to you, but this is only because you are stupid. In fact they are quite simple: The first number represents the over-the-counter, or "under-the-counter," par value of any outstanding corporate forfeitures of redemption as of the 16th hole; the second number is my son's birthday; the third number is the first number backwards, and the fourth number is the segment of the American public that believes Robert Young is a member of the Supreme Court. Of course, this is fairly technical information, so it's a good idea to employ the services of a knowledgeable brokerage firm such as Merrill Lynch, the company represented by the extremely masculine bull that you see running free and unfettered through urban areas in a series of television commercials designed to convey the strong, confident, authoritative message: "Let us be your broker, or this bull will stick a horn through your neck."

So if I were you I'd definitely go with Merrill Lynch. I wouldn't even think twice about the fact that, as a result of testimony from Mr. Ivan Boesky, the bull was recently sentenced to eight years in federal prison. Where I understand it is extremely popular.