Bad With Money

If you can't stand to have money in your pocket, you'll never have any

Photograph by Getty Images

When I was six years old, I went with my hippie parents to a head shop. In case Mike and Carol Brady raised you and this never came up, a head shop is a store that has really cool penny candy, the kind that’s a long stripy stick and comes in many disgusting flavors such as chocolate and root beer? Also at the head shop was a whole room with black-light posters. What I did not understand was that most people went there to buy rolling papers and bongs. Maybe the penny candy was for after, when you had the munchies. It is just now occurring to me that that might be exactly the case.

My parents didn’t even smoke pot. Apparently, the head shop of my hometown was the place to see and be seen in the early '70s, because my parents hung out there constantly. It was the Whiskey a Go Go of Saginaw, Michigan. Anyway, there we all were one day, milling about the patchouli when I heared my mom say, “Maybe we should give Karen an allowance. It’ll teach her fiscal responsibility.”

You know, there have been many statements made through the ages that’ve turned out to be untrue. “Dewey defeats Truman.” “Blue mascara flatters everyone.” “You haven’t heard the last of Hoobastank.” But of all the statements in all the world that did not remotely turn out to be true, my poor mother’s statement in the head shop was the most tragic.

My dad gave me a quarter, which is just about the same weekly disposable income I have now. I took that quarter and literally spun around the store, looking for what I could spend it on. I bought a peacock feather, which let’s face it, everyone needs.

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I’ve been spinning in a head shop ever since. Because let me tell you, I cannot stand to have money in my pocket. It’s like I have to shed it, like a skin. Oh, I paid my bills and there’s 50 bucks left over?


Tax refund?

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I can’t even watch Suze Orman and her money show. People call in and say things like, “Suze, I have four hundred and ninety thousand billion dollars saved for my retirement. Can I buy a used Dodge?” Do you know how many pieces of root-beer-flavored penny candy you can get with four hundred and ninety thousand billion dollars? Why isn’t the caller spinning on over to the head shop with that money?

And by the way, no matter how much someone has, Suze Orman always tells people they can’t afford anything. Suze Orman depresses me. Suze Orman is a grown-up who probably never has to think about what’s going to happen to her in the future. She probably has things like SAVINGS and a four-oh-wonk, as Phoebe on "Friends" called it.

You know what I have? Total recall of the scripts of "Friends." I’m kind of thinking I can’t live on this.

I know I should’ve worried about my retirement, you know, back when I was younger. But you know what I worried about when I was younger? How to buy CK One and Doc Martens, that’s what I worried about. In fact, stupid Calvin Klein should finance my retirement. From the time that yahoo started marketing his fancy $35 jeans, I’ve fallen for every one of his tricks. Obsession? Had it. Baby-doll dresses? Sign me up. I even bought his dang jean short overalls. The man owes me. Big time.

Even in the unlikely event that Calvin doesn’t come through, old age is still kind of looming on the horizon. I mean, it’s off in the distance enough now that I can hope to become a trophy wife really fast, because there’s a huge demand for 48-year-old trophy wives, right? But if that doesn’t work out, I need to come up with a solid Plan B for retirement.

And that plan is, um, it’s …

Say, has anybody seen my peacock feather?