Tuesday, June 5, 2007

All About the Money

Dear Allison,

It’s so curious the inherent disgust in “it’s all about the money,” I always get this sense that someone’s imagining piles and piles of Seven jeans, floating in a hideous sea of Diet Coke, spiked with lobster and caviar and all these bits of charming plastic.

New York’s the epitome, and every columnist quips, “another venue for the what-to-do-with-my-time-and-money conundrums of east villagers”.

The first day my friend came back from the army, she had 10,000 dollars. Four stores later, it was cut in half.

“Does this look good?” she asks in a sparkly gold bikini, and I stare in amazement. Stare and stare, and go outside and light a smoke.

Consume and be part of it all- for a minute.

I guess I see it a bit differently.

My mother says, “Money is so you don’t cry when the roof leaks”,

A silly example, but true nonetheless.

A lot of things are all about the money. Amnesty International is all about the money. As is Save the Children, and Wonderbread and Apple, Inc. Oncology is all about the money- as you said Alijor was, though I’ll later beg to differ.

Money is a cab ride from Brooklyn at 4 in the morning, and coffee to keep you up and 36 cents to send a letter. Money is someone’s bread, bicycle or bail. It’s the ability to leave- by car, cab or train ride- like hearing Someone’s Voice on the phone (which costs money) or crying to an old sad lark song. It’s freezing frigid cold, waiting for a bus for an hour because you can’t afford,

“But we can’t afford!” cries a school with creaky doors and broken steps.

A clean suit for a job interview, no, wireless access in a motel. Or the awkward pause when some friendly face asks for dinner and you stutter, “uh…sure, sure..”. And the ugly glare in florescent stores with the phrase: Get your money’s worth!

Money’s worth- does that mean something?

When three kids split a bill and they ask each other, “How much? What’d you eat, what’d you take?”.

How they’d use bad division to try to split it up, make it even- Equal, but it won’t be. A dollar’s a personal word, and what’s it mean to each one? Skin’s still branded with past favors, aches whenever it’s humid out and­­­­- no, No- and I’d rather it be me, it doesn’t hurt me, can’t- not as much. What makes you nauseous so you take your card and say, “no, no, I’ll pay, its fine”, because your revulsion’s greater than regret.

Four years ago I got lost in DC and I passed a ragged old man who stared and said my hair looked pretty. And he held out his hand and I said, “no, no sir I have no money” and I kept on my way to the Kennedy Center, where I stopped, and stared because it was pretty. But the lady at the ticket counter turned her head and asked, “Sixty-four dollars, miss”, so I said, “no, no ma’am I have no money”, and slunk away.

It might be curious that a housecat such as myself would so greatly want money. But the position of a housecat’s a funny one- any change affecting the owner’s attitude or circumstance affects the cat. Precarious positions are my style but to a degree- falling’s fun, of course, but only when you know there’s a net. And if I’m traveling across the country, you can bet I’m skipping the beat generation and checking my bank account to make sure its full.

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