In the summer we live on an island, and we only see each other for two months. Yet it's amazing how much we get done in that short period of time.

We were spread out on the beach last Wednesday, and someone said, "What happened to the Doubleglasses?"

"Harry went into Chapter 11 and Mrs. Doubleglass went to Reno."

"What is Chapter 11?" asked Dottie Tubridy, a visitor from Dublin.

"It's when you can't pay your bills and you say to a judge, 'This is now your problem -- not mine.' "

"I don't understand why anyone would want to go into Chapter 11," Dottie went on.

Darryl replied, "They don't want to do it. They have to so the plumber won't beat them up."

"Would a plumber really beat up a person because he can't pay his debts?" Dottie asked.

"Not once," answered Crimea, "he'd beat him up 20 times. As a matter of fact, when someone can't pay his bills, there is a long line of people waiting to beat him up. That's why we have Chapter 11 laws, so the person can hide when the mob wants to tear him apart."

Dottie was fascinated with all of this. "Is it a disgrace to go into bankruptcy?"

"It used to be," said Joel the lawyer. "But now everybody's doing it. It's like buying a hot tub."

Angel, another lawyer, declared, "It's very wise to do it, particularly if you have put everything in your wife's name."

"I don't understand," Dottie confessed.

Angel explained, "Many people play it safe by putting everything in their spouse's name so when they declare bankruptcy they have no assets to divide among their creditors."

"That's very clever," said Dottie in her lilting Irish voice.

"It is and it isn't," Angel admitted. "Sometimes when the guy goes bust, the marriage goes bust about the same time, and then the wife keeps the assets he turned over to her for safekeeping."

"It seems unfair," Dottie muttered.

"We have a saying in this country: Life and Chapter 11 are both unfair," Sheldon stated.

"Can a person get out of Chapter 11?" Dottie asked.

"He can if he pays all his debts and the bank gives him back his car," Donald told her. "Going into Chapter 11 and coming out again is what is known as the American dream."

Angel added, "The thing you must understand, Dottie, is not everyone who goes into Chapter 11 has the same lifestyle. The richer the bankrupt person, the easier it is for him to maintain the way he lived in the past. The poorer people in bankruptcy are poorer now than they ever were before."

"Why do the rich bankrupt people live better than the poor?" Dottie asked.

"Because the rich can keep up a front, and the poor are not permitted to. Besides, the rich can always count on someone giving them credit on the off chance that they might have their real money stashed away in Liechtenstein. No such hopes for the poor."

Dottie told us, "Your Chapter 11 is much more civilized than the one we have in Ireland."

"What happens in Ireland when you go broke?" Sheldon asked.

"The plumber beats you up."