I felt something annoying poking into my chest, right in between my breasts. I looked down under my shirt and exclaim “Crap, my wire is coming out, I’ve had this Target bra for years!” Something about it sounded strange, and sure enough I look up and my friend is staring at me oddly. She goes, “Um, that’s why, you’re not supposed to have bras for years.” This is when the Good Times laugh track cues and I stare sheepishly into the camera. Except there is no camera. I am poor without an audience and that’s the worst kind of poor.
Last week my hooptie/pimp mobile had a dead battery and needed a jump. I suppose my friend and I staring absently at jumper cables and trying to Google on our phones how to jump a car made us look like we needed help. A nice man was kind enough to stop and help us. He got the car started in no time and in my excitement (stupidity) I managed to step out of the car and lock the key inside with the engine running. This is my life. The guy looked at me wildly, “Why would you do that? We just got the car started?!!” I looked over at my friend. She is aware of who I am and therefore was not surprised. “Because I’m stupid,” I replied. This stranger then goes into panic mode jibber jabbering about locksmiths and what to do. I let him finish—I can be polite. But finally I said, “I’m going to go get a hammer and break the back window open to get into the car. I can’t afford a locksmith.”
Fast forward a week later, I’m driving around, it’s hot as balls so I turn on the A/C and I can’t figure why the air is not getting any cooler. Well, that would be because I now have a trash bag taped into the space that used to be my window. I even keep a spare window (trash bag) in my purse just in case some teenaged hooligans rip it off…or the tape falls off or whatever. So no A/C for me. I pull into the grocery store right into a spot between an Audi and a Mercedes. I didn’t want to park there but I have to slide the car into whatever spot is easiest to maneuver out of because my car has no power steering. (I count no power steering as a form of exercise). I go into the grocery store and head to the food court, I’m not there to shop but to pick up some family photos myself and the kids took a few weeks ago. Some people go to portrait studios, others go to Walmart…I went to a curtained off area in the Safeway food court. It was $18 and when I showed up for the appointment I half expected the guy to pull out his iPhone and take our pictures with it but he actually had a camera, thank God.
Anyway, the woman hands me the pictures I ordered but of course that wasn’t all. She goes into a spiel about different packages and poses, and pricing points. She wanted me to spend more money! I immediately zoned out. Here I sit in yesterday’s clothes (choosing to stay the night at a friend’s house because going home would use up too much gas), and my window is a trash bag. I look up at her and I realize she’s asking me about any additional photos I would like to purchase. I open my mouth to speak, “No, thank you for asking. I can’t. You see, I’m very poor.” I said everything except that last part– I decided to spare her those exclusive details of my life. However, I have said this phrase to people before. I have bras and underwear twice the age of my youngest daughter… no, I can’t afford the deluxe picture package for $299.00, but I’m flattered you thought I looked like I could.
When my jeans get holes in them I wear them anyway and just put on some heavy eyeliner and make it the “rocker chick” look. My kitchen sink is leaky but I won’t call the apartment maintenance to fix it because they may decide to be petty and demand I do something unreasonable like pay my rent “in full”. I can’t remember the last time my electric bill came in a white envelope, instead of the yellow ones they mail out for past due notices, and I have a trash bag for a car window. I am very poor. It’s my own doing, part of living life to the fullest and having no concept of delayed gratification. Things are only worse when I go into a depressive state and become even more so indulgent and irresponsible. I need some discipline. I am not just bad with money but I’m not making any money right now sooooo I’m not a math genius but this does not bode well for me. Anyway, all this to say that I’m just going to own my poverty, I am who I am.
I left the grocery store, family photos in hand (the $18 ones, of course) and walk over to my car. I notice a well put together guy giving me the flirty eye as he’s walking in the same direction and talking on his cell phone. Hey, I’m still wearing yesterday’s clothes but maybe I still got it! I close in on my car and I notice in horror (maybe only slight horror—I won’t be dramatic) as he stops outside the Mercedes I was forced to park next to. I take out my two keys (I have two broken keys that I have to piece together to make one key that I can use to start the car) calmly get in, and after several tries start my car and drive off with my trash bag flapping in the wind. He was probably a snob anyway.