I’VE SEEN THE FUTURE, I CAN’T AFFORD IT
Lately, I constantly find myself doing something that Young Jerry vowed years ago he would never do: worry about money.
I hated money as a kid, hated the concept of it, hated the things you had to do to get it, hated hearing my parents argue about it, hated the germs from other people’s hands that were crawling all over every quarter or dollar bill. I hated the business section of the paper and the little stock ticker that ran at the bottom of the screen during the morning news shows. I hated the way my hands would smell after I helped my dad wrap pennies to take to the bank. I never liked ghost stories either, but you know what would’ve made them scarier? If instead of boogeymen and zombies, they had been about George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. Their newsprint-blocky green-ink faces were creepier to me than anything Stephen King could think up. If I found a five dollar bill on the sidewalk, I left it there. I’d roll my eyes and think, “Hmph, let someone else deal with that!” You know how kids love handling money, and it makes them feel like a big shot when Mommy gives them the money to hand over to the cashier at McDonald’s? Well, that freaked me out. When my dad would try to let me pay, I’d run away and cower behind the garbage can, whimpering. Me having money just didn’t feel right. Thirty years later, that hasn’t changed.
The difference is that now, I love money. I love having it, I love spending it. I love seeing it slide out of an ATM or a slot machine. I love when my wallet is stuffed with it, in all different denominations. When I went to Europe, I loved foreign money. Well, look, there’s the queen in a rainbow of newsprint-blocky colors! Isn’t she lovely? I loved calculating the exchange rates in my head whenever I’d attempt to buy something. “This Kylie Minogue CD is a bargain at 7.99 GBP — even in dollars that’s just… $12.78!” I never thought I’d admit to being a necrophiliac, but I sure love me some dead presidents. Oh, money, Alex P. Keaton was right about you all along! (Don’t worry, Young Jerry. Alex and I still disagree about politics… or is that next?!?!)
I’m not going to pretend like I don’t know what happened to change my opinion of money. My parents stopped paying for everything, that’s what happened. All my life up through college was a pretty sweet free ride. It’s easy not to worry about money when someone else is doing all the worrying for you. But then I moved out and had to worry about rent and car payments, and two years of grad school and the insane amount of interest that builds up when you don’t pay off your grad school loans within a week or so of graduating. (Isn’t that a great system?) Somewhere along the way, I discovered credit, which was also a big problem. I never carried a balance on my credit cards until grad school, then I thought, “Oh, it’s just one $200 futon — what’s the harm?” Well, nine years later I’m still paying off that $200 futon, and several thousand dollars of other stuff. It’s clear who the villain is here. It’s not money, or people who have money (I can’t hate them — I someday hope to be one of them). No, the bad people are the people who lend money. Didn’t Jesus say something about that? (Great, somebody else I never thought I’d be referencing.)
One of my friends recently pointed out, with a great amount of envy, that Drew and I are DINKs. Dual Income, No Kids. We’re the holy grail of economic groups, coveted by advertisers, mutual fund administrators, Club Meds, and golddigging homewreckers alike. People like us crap disposable income, and afterward, we wipe our butts with more disposable income. We’re like Demi Moore rolling around naked in a pile of money every night, only we didn’t have to sleep with any twisted, manipulative millionaires to get there.
If only that were true. Even though Drew and I both make pretty good salaries, we can’t afford things that people our age are supposed to be buying, like houses, vacations and 401Ks. I want to hate George Bush for what he’s done to the national debt, but I have to admit I did the same thing to my own finances. At the current rate, my student loans aren’t scheduled to be paid off until 2023, at which point I can start paying off my credit cards. After that, I guess, I can begin saving for retirement. I’m very close to appealing to Bono for help with my cause. Really, Bono, I know Namibia has it tough, but at least they don’t have Sallie Mae on their backs. Help!
Of course, in a week and a half, I won’t even have a job anymore. And Drew and I have been talking about halving our acronym and becoming DI’s. So right now, things are looking especially bleak. Is this the coveted DINK lifestyle that awaits all of the nation’s gay youth?
I’ve decided Drew and I need to append that sunny acronym to reflect the harsh reality we’re really facing. We’re Dual Income, No Kids all right, but we’re also Drowning in Unbearable Debt.
That’s what we are. And at least until 2023, that’s what we’ll continue to be.
Unless any twisted, manipulative millionaires out there have any proposals for us…