During my freshman year at Ohio State University, my parents and I made a deal. I didn’t have to get a job. Instead they would send me $40 a week and I would get one of those cafeteria passes where, basically, you have a number of meal passes. After that, I was on my own.
Unlike a lot of current college freshman in 2007, a majority of freshmen (at least the poor ones) in the early 90's didn’t have a credit card (until, of course they filled out an application on campus). Maybe, possibly, a savings account (for spring break). But definitely a checking account (to bounce checks). I had a checking account.
Usually I would receive my $40 check in the mail on Friday afternoon. I considered it a personal challenge to extend that money almost all the way to next Friday. Most of the time I failed. But, sometimes I would have a couple extra dollars left over. And I went out and drank almost every night, ate a bunch of fast food and went to see a number of movies! Basically, it averages out to $5 bucks and some change per day. It's like a weird episode of Twilight Zone how I was able to do that. It still racks my brain to this day.
But, you know what I’d like to know? When was the exact time, year or date when everything started to cost either $100 or $1,000?
It's funny because I really don’t buy anything anymore for myself. I buy stuff, but it's not for me personally - if you get my drift. I mean, I’m still wearing some of the same Old Navy clothes that I bought six years ago.
But when it comes to everyday things, the money just pours out of my ass like a bas case of the runs. I went to get the oil changed on my car. It turned out all four tires were bald so I had to get 4 new tires. BAM! $1,000. I had to buy a riding lawn mower because the used one my dad got for me broke down. BAM! $1,000.
Rent/Mortgage is $1,000. Car payment for two cars is $1,000. Car insurance is $100($1000 for the year). When I go out to dinner, it costs $100. (It doesn’t matter how much or little I order – after the tip it’s always $100.) When we go to the grocery to pick up diapers, even if we have some small candles, a box of spaghetti and a box of cereal and diapers – it somehow costs $100. Doctor’s appointment... $100. Computer supplies...$100. Everything is either $100 or $1,000. And that’s it!
In the future, I’m going to think back on those $40 weeks in the dorms and bitch to my future grandkids.
"You know what," I’ll tell them. "Your granddaddy used to live off of $40 a week in college."
"Oooooh." and "Aaaaahh" will escape from their mouths as they huddle around the living room in my assisted living facility waiting, with bated breath, for me to say something else poetic.
Then the nurse pumps me full of morphine and a trickle of slobber runs down my lip. Before I drift off to sleep, the nurse puts her hand down the back of my pants, takes out my wallet and pulls out $100.