My cousin called the other day to ask if I would “lend” her five hundred dollars to hire Yo Gabba Gabba characters and a circus for Sammy’s second birthday party. Now, once upon a time when I earned a lot of money, I would cut these conversations off with “how much do you need? Come by my office at 3 to get it.” It was a lot easier to hit the ATM than deal with the unfocused ramblings and empty promises of repayment that my family is known for. When I made less money, I would have a number in my head of how much I was willing to give to end the conversation, if the request was equal to or less, I would extract the promise for repayment and tell them to pick the money up from my mom. (I would tell my mom the deal and say that she could keep how ever much of the money she could get them to repay.)
Now, that I pretty much make no money, fifty bucks is my ceiling. Obviously, $500 way exceeded that…though, she could throw a slamming 12th birthday party for him with Yo Gabba Gabba…though I suspect by then he won’t so much be into it. Heck, he’s not even TWO, I doubt he’s much into it now. I tried to impress upon my cousin that Sammy would be better off if she took a hundred dollars and bought him a winter coat. Or found money to pay for the specialist his pediatrician suggested to her. (Random fact: He has the same pediatrician I had when I was a kid!)
But no. She has it in her head to have a huge carnival party for him in my aunt’s one bedroom apartment and she cannot be dissuaded. And as crazy as it is, part of me understands, the part of me that was so sad about my poverty that I bought a snowcone machine to cheer myself up.
Not having money sucks, not having the things you want sucks more. And so, I chose today’s poem mostly because if I ever meet this dude, I’m kicking him in the nuts. Anyone who romanticizes poverty should be robbed and kicked in the nuts. Fine, maybe not robbed, but definitely kicked in the nuts.
Poor men’s hearts aren’t light; they do not laugh. Their hearts are heavy and they cry. And their kids don’t ever get to go to Disney World even though they have memorized every word of every Disney World commercial because they spend all their free time watching TV, because it’s too dangerous to play outside. And the kids fantasize about sinking buzzer beating three pointers to win basketball championships because THEN you get to go to Disneyworld for free! But of course, that’ll never happen because you are a girl (And are barely five feet tall.)
The world without money is a bleak place of terrible choices and awful decisions and you’ll foolishly squander hundreds of dollars to see your son smile for a day because…well, because you know his life will probably suck in unbearably relentless ways for a very long time.
I get that. I do. And I wish I could throw money at them like I used to. Alas, I cannot. And that, my friends, is why I invented the vodka snowcone.
Money – W.H. Davies
WHEN I had money, money, O!
I knew no joy till I went poor;
For many a false man as a friend
Came knocking at my door.
Then felt I like a child that holds
A trumpet that he must not blow
Because a man is dead; I dared
Not speak to let this false world know.
Much have I thought of life, and seen
How poor men’s hearts are ever light;
And how their wives do hum like bees
About their work from morn till night.
So, when I hear these poor ones laugh,
And see the rich ones coldly frown–
Poor men, think I, need not go up
So much as rich men should come down.
When I had money, money, O!
My many friends proved all untrue;
But now I have no money, O!
My friends are real though very few.