Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The almighty buck

"There's no money in poetry, but there's no poetry in money, either." Robert Graves
"Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort." FDR
"Marry for money and you end up paying for it." Groucho Marx
"How much, baby, do we really need?" Davey Jones of the Monkees

My best friend makes a good living. I estimate his salary is $85,000, plus bonus. According to the Census Bureau, the average United States household has an annual income of $46,325.

He moved recently, and now lives among family. They are, literally, millionaires. One brother-in-law is an entrepreneur who has done extremely well in financial software. His father-in-law invested very well, and when his company recently went public, he made that investment back 7 times over. My friend's father retired at 39, when his father died, and he was able to get his hands on his inheritance.

In this crowd, $85,000 plus bonus is just above the poverty level. His brother-in-law is so nervous and jumpy that his own baby is uncomfortable in his arms. His father-in-law has a tortured relationship with his adult daughters, and a minimal relationship with his grandchildren. His father spends his leisure time -- day in and day out -- detailing his antique cars. I wouldn't value any of their opinions of me.

My best friend, on the other hand, is insecure, and their opinions do matter. He is a good person, a caring father and a patient friend, but these attributes are not valued in his family circle.

Money can be like centrifugal force and it's easy to be drawn in. I hear him using phrases like, "flying to Aspen for lunch," and "private schools for the girls" and "St. Bart's" and I want to puke. I know how he's financing all this. He's taking money from his father-in-law. Once he takes his money, he will have to take his father-in-law's shit. That's how it works. And bit by bit, my friend will be sucked in.

I'm hoping he manages to maintain his essence and integrity. Perhaps it's possible to live among them without becoming one of them. If it's not, I'll miss him.

No comments:

Post a Comment