Back in the day, I was messy, messy, messy with my money. Part of it I blame on my parents, whom I love dearly. It pained my dear mother greatly for one of her chickens to be stressing over money, so she would send a little to bail us out, to tide us over until the next big fuck up.
I never really realized how much debt my poor mom was going into to support my bad habits (nothing like having a bar tab from your favorite haunt that exceeds your monthly income!). It never occurred to me that all she was doing was taking my stress on herself.
I still saw it as a bit of a game. Such maturity!
See, I’d never directly ask for money. I’d just sort of complain. On a good day, she’d cave immediately and ask how she could help. On a bad day, she’d make me work a little harder, which usually involved me invoking some great symbolic sacrifice she would take seriously and act to avert.
Sometimes it bordered on the ridiculous, but who was I to argue with results. But one day, everything changed. Mom grew a pair.
I called as usual to complain that I didn’t have the $200 or whatever it was that I needed. The great southern belle voice enveloped me like a warm hug. “Aw, hunnnny! Ah am so sorry to hear ‘bout tha-yat.” I smiled. This wasn’t going to be a slam dunk. We were definitely going to go the distance. “What are you going to do?”
Me: “I don’t know. Maybe turn tricks at a quarter a pop.” This was exactly the sort of extreme rhetoric tha sent her into a tizzy of concern. But apparently my mom had seen this episode already. Normally, this is where she would ask if she could send me a little something to tide me over. I was already breathing the sigh of financial relief, so her response caught me quite unawares.
“Do you have any idea how many quarters it takes to get $200?”
ARE YOU SHITTING ME? My mom just called my (lame) bluff! And I knew that I could never ask her for money again. The cord had been cut. Gently, but firmly. With love, but with conviction. I was a grown up and it was time to start acting like one. And I did.
I’m still no Ben Bernanke, but the checkbook balances at the end of each month and I spend what I can afford to spend, realistically. (Those Prada shoes are from the OUTLET people. Shut up!)
So today, I’m asking the Congress and the President, “How many quarters does it take to get $700 billion dollars?” Because I sure do sense that I’m about to get fucked.