Party Like It's 1999
Memo to the asswipe who broke into my car Tuesday night and stole my purse, wallet, checkbooks, and credit cards:

Ha, ha, ha - the joke’s on YOU, sucker!

What, you thought that just because I accidentally left my purse on the front seat you were actually going to obtain anything of value? Didja see any cash in there? No? Well, you should have taken the hint and kept moving.

Oh, okay. You want my credit cards? Sure. Take 'em. In fact, here are a few more you didn’t get. Take 'em all. Take 'em all right on over to Tower Records and just try to buy yourself a CD and see what happens. Yeah, having them confiscated by store security for exceeding their limits beyond all human imagination might be a tad embarrassing, but look on the bright side - it will save you the trouble of having to cut them up yourself.

My license? You want my driver’s license, you say? Heh. Here you go. I assume you’ll be going to traffic court on my behalf to try to explain to the nice folks over at the Concord District Courthouse why I’ve been driving around on a license that was suspended two years ago when I inadvertently let my inspection sticker expire (and then maybe you can write to the Registry of Motor Vehicles for me and ask them why they never bothered to notify me of the suspension until after I was stopped by a curious police officer round ‘bout midnight one Friday in May and almost spent the entire weekend in jail). Hey, and while
you’re at it? Here’s a stack of parking tickets you can pay off for me, too. Thanks much!

And enjoy that Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Rhode Island insurance card. That is, of course, if you can find a doctor anywhere in the state of Massachusetts who will accept it. Here’s a free tip: never get fired by a Providence-based employer. But you should definitely load up on those prescription benefits while you still can. You’ve got about 90 days till the COBRA coverage expires. After that, well, you’ll just have to get in line behind the rest of us at the Free Clinic for Dot Com Refugees.

Oh, and I almost forgot to thank you for slashing my soft top. I was wondering how I was going to explain the prior rip to my insurance company: “Well, you see, Mr. Claims Adjuster, sir, I was coming home from a Pink Slip Party one night and I totally miscalculated the clearance on that very sharp tree branch overhead. That sometimes happens after a few beers, which is also why I couldn’t figure out what was going on up there and kept trying to raise and lower the roof and made the tear even bigger.” Now I get a brand new soft top, courtesy of Met Life and my Friendly Neighborhood Auto Vandal, and I won’t even have to lie about it! And you’ll take care of that $500 deductible, won’t you? Hint: if you try to write a check on the Citizens’ account it’ll bounce. Use the Schwab checkbook. It’s on the inside left pocket of the purse. I’ll make yet another transfer out of what’s left of my IRA to cover it.

I know why you picked my car to break into, Mr. Auto Vandal and Purse Thief. You were taken in by the prettiness of my shiny little convertible, weren’t you? Yeah, I was too, back in the glory days of 1999 when I could actually afford it. That was also when I could afford the nice Kate Spade bag and Coach wallet you now have in your possession, as well as the lovely Back Bay condominium from behind which you stole said Kate Spade bag and Coach wallet. Oh, yes, I still have the lovely condominium and shiny little convertible, but that’s only because I don’t have enough equity in either to sell them and replace them with cheaper versions, and no bank in its right mind would give me a loan right now. No sense being homeless if you don’t even have a decent car to sleep in.

Okay, so you get it. I’m Poor. Somewhere along my path to dot com millions, the economy crashed. It crashed right the fuck down on my head. And, rather than admit that my circumstances have changed for the worse and move somewhere I can afford, like, say, Idaho, I prefer instead to skip merrily along the Banks of Denial, still living my six figure lifestyle on my four figure income and what used to be my 401K, trying to figure out what I’m going to do when the money runs out.

Here’s one thing that I have figured out: being Poor sucks ass.

Oh, I can do Poor if I have to. I did Poor all through my twenties and halfway into my thirties. I know all about what it’s like to not be able to get a credit card or a loan from anywhere other than the Bank of Dad. I know what to do when the electricity’s been shut off and it’s impossible to call and complain because the phone was disconnected the day before. And I’m an expert at unearthing enough spare change from the floor of the car to get a bag of M&Ms for lunch (if this ever happens to you, go for the Peanut ones - even though you get more in the Plain bag, the Peanut ones have more protein and thus are more filling).

In an effort to stave off the inevitable, I have decided that it’s time to implement the Emergency Poverty Prevention Measures that I have been holding in abeyance for the day my bank balances drop below a certain level. I am now at that point. Therefore, from now through the end of the year, I hereby pledge the following:

- Just because I have a car, it does not mean that I must drive it everywhere. Instead, I will unravel the Mysteries of Public Transportation. I have heard tell that somewhere in this city there are buses and subways that can take me pretty much anywhere I want to go. I’m sure there is no reason to fear the people on the Number One Bus. They’re all probably quite normal beneath all the twitching and spastic head movements. Perhaps I will even make a new friend or two, or, at the very least, a new drug connection. Maybe I’ll even meet you, Mr. Auto Vandal and Purse Thief, on your way to your next caper.

- Now that gasoline prices are pushing $2.00 a gallon, I realize that I can no longer afford to squander my precious mileage in order to drive 20 minutes out of my way to shop at the Sudbury Farms supermarket. Yes, the produce is fresher there. Yes, they have magnificent gourmet sushi and prepared meals. Nevertheless, I will shop at the Shaw’s in Allston and I will buy store brands. I will even get one of those discount card thingies and I will not be ashamed to whip it out in the checkout line (after all, I will be in Allston, so no one I know will see me. Except maybe my new Number One Bus friends. And they won’t hold it against me.)

- I will cut up my Barnes & Noble Frequent Buyer’s card (oh! I forgot - you’ve got it - would you mind doing it for me?) and, in its place, I will dig out my old Boston Public Library card. I will get my books there, read them, and return them ON TIME for a change, so as to avoid expensive late fees. I’m sure they’ll let me back in if I return the Catcher in the Rye I borrowed thirteen years ago.

- I will not buy any more DVDs. Ever. I especially will not buy any more of those nice boxed sets that I never manage to watch all the way through. I will face the fact that I don’t really like NYPD Blue and thus have no need for the Complete Second Season.

- Beginning October 1, 2003, I will forego my weekly pedicure. It will be winter soon, and no one will see my toes.*

*Unless I start sleeping with someone before then, in which case I can have one pedicure every other week.  But no paraffin treatments.

- I will cook! I will actually look through the 750 cooking magazines I have collected over the years and refuse to throw away and use them to prepare myself wholesome, satisfying meals that can be stretched for days at a time. And, should I have leftovers, I will not allow them to accumulate nasty green fungal growths in the refrigerator - although if this does happen by mistake I will hold my breath and discard the leftovers ONLY, preserving the container in which they were stored, thus saving myself a fortune in Tupperware.

- Finally, even though I will be cooking at home every night instead of eating out, I hereby understand and acknowledge that I can do so utilizing the equipment and materials that I already have on hand. I do not need a Showtime Rotisserie Barbecue and Grill, no matter how appealing the infomercial. I do not need a convection oven - I already have a microwave. I do not need a shiny chrome Cuisinart - my old white one will do just fine. I do not need a Wusthaus Tomato Knife - I don‘t even really like tomatoes. In fact, in order to avoid temptation entirely, I will studiously avoid the following establishments: Williams-Sonoma, Crate & Barrel, and especially Pottery Barn. I shall admit that I already have enough cutlery, glassware, and scented candles - and those compilation CDs they’re forever dangling in front of me at the checkout counter? Hell, I can steal all those songs right off the internet and make my own!

I estimate that, with the above measures fully implemented, I’ll be able to stretch my dwindling savings by an extra three weeks or so. After that, if I haven’t landed another copywriting gig, I’ll have to do something more drastic, like fire my cleaning service or get my hair done somewhere else. Hey, if worse comes to worse, I can always go back to peddling overpriced vaporware to any empty suit with a budget and a pulse.

Okay, so this is the part where I’m supposed to wrap up by telling you that I’ll never do that. I’ll never go back. I’m supposed to say that the past 11 months have taught me that I can live without the frivolous comforts I used to thrive upon. That I’ve awakened spiritually, I’m happier, I have more time for my friends, and I have renounced my grasping materialism and embraced a simpler, humbler existence.

Don‘t hold your breath.

The truth is, I liked my old life just fine. I just wish there was a way I could get it back without having to actually work for it.

And this, Mr. Auto Vandal and Purse Thief, is where you come in. The new school year just began and all the college students are moving back to town. I’m willing to bet that you’re having trouble keeping up with all those new cars that are suddenly dotting the landscape. Perhaps you might benefit from a little knowledgeable assistance from someone who knows her way around town.  Someone who knows her designer labels. Someone

Think about it. 

After all, there are still an awful lot of Kate Spade bags out there.