July 13, 2008

The other day I was reading about a very successful hedge-fund manager who ripped off millions from his clients, got caught, faked his suicide, and went on the lam. He used to live in a building owned by Donald Trump - now he was living in a campervan. That was his Plan B? Going to jail sounds more appealing.

Where would you go and what would you do if it all came crashing down? Sometimes I like to think about this. If everything in my life exploded, what kind of life would I have if I had to start over?

Most people have an escape fantasy - a life they dream about and aspire to. I haven't been able to come up with anything yet.

My friend Sophie has it all planned out. If her life imploded she would buy a house in a small New England town and get a job working at the local diner as a waitress.

"I'd be the woman with a mysterious past, " she says. "An enigma."

I like the idea of being an enigma. But I don't think it would last more than one week. One day someone would say, casually, "what's your story?" Five hours later I'd still be talking. Either that or I'd say I can't get into it because I'm an enigma. If you're going to be an enigma, it's not something that should be announced.

Also in Sophie's plan is a romance. She'd fall in love with the vet who looks like Sam Shepard. Her plan sounds a lot like the plot from Baby Boom. Only without the baby.

Whenever women talk about their fallback plan it always involves a small town with an ordinary guy who just happens to look like Sam Shepard. But I've been to a lot of these small towns and there's never anyone who looks anything like him. If there is, he's slumped on the street corner with an empty wine bottle in a brown paper bag.

But at least Sophie has a plan. Maybe I could rent a room in the house that she's buying. The problem with that is, what if my life implodes first? I'd have to wait around for her life to fall apart and that could take a while. She would continue to have a successful life and I'd be stuck waiting. I'd become resentful. It would put a strain on the friendship.

I need a plan of my own.

I asked my Irish friend, Dion, what would happen if his life fell apart. What's his Plan B?

"My life right now isn't exactly Plan A," he said. "I'm already on Plan G.

But then, after pressing him for a while, he came up with having a fish farm. I couldn't follow all the details but it was definitely different to being a fisherman and it wouldn't involve having to listen to a shipping forecast. When I think of fish, I think of water. When I think of a farm, I think of land. I was confused. And not interested. It sounded wet and cold.

Another friend mentioned he'd become a trucker. Why? What's romantic about sitting for 12 hours a day in traffic, drinking stale coffee from petrol stations and getting haemorrhoids? My Plan B needs a place where I can pee without wiping the toilet seat first.

My friend Heather, who dates a lot, told me her fallback plan was to travel around the world with her husband. "You could join us," she said.

That sounded good. But then I remembered she's not married. And where would the money come from? I pointed out that a fallback plan is if life comes crashing down. What she was describing was hitting the jackpot.

I'm very specific. If everything were to come crashing down, I can't imagine my fallback plan would involve being anywhere too remote. But I like sheep. I wouldn't mind being a shepherd if it could happen somewhere near Manhattan or London. The down side is I have a feeling a shepherd's hours wouldn't work. I'd oversleep and lose my flock.

The fact is, I don't have a Plan B. It's beginning to worry me. If everything fell apart I'd probably end up hiding out in my apartment ruminating on where it all went wrong. Then again, that would keep me busy for the next ten years