Saturday, March 30, 2013

How Poor Are the Non-Rich, Part Deux?

Despite my better judgment, the temptation to make a sequel was too great. This must be how 'The Hangover' producers felt. Having grown up a 5 minute drive (and 1 minute boat ride) from FranT, my mind raced to find my own signs you're not rich that I've experienced over the years. So here you have it, The Have-Not 2. 

1. No “Mud Room”
Growing up, when I’d go into a friend’s house after playing wiffle ball or something, we’d have to take our shoes and coats off in the “mud room”. Imagine, an entire room dedicated to mud! When you step one foot into my house, you are smack dab in the middle of a vital room in the house, and you are getting mud all over that floor.

2. No Backup Living Room
Even as a young pup, you knew you were in the lap of luxury when you were in a house that had a backup living room. I know parents liked to call this room “the living room” and the true living room “the den”, but that was just denying the obvious. These were rooms without a TV that were meant for sitting around and chatting...that nobody ever sat around and chatted in.

Years later, the couches in these rooms would be the ones that you crashed on when a rich friend had a party and you didn’t know him well enough to secure an open bedroom.The idea that you were getting some serious beer odor all up in the backup living room was pretty rewarding.  

You need a minimum of 2 living rooms to be rich.

Anyway, the other half like me lived in houses where every foot of space was utilized daily (see: no mud room). Wanna sleep over?! You can stay in my guest room, or as I like to call it, my floor with a blanket and pillow.

3. Applying to college under the “Brian’s going anywhere he wants to go and is accepted” war cry

That is the product of parents' hard work, smart savings over the course of decades, being the only child, and loans. It is NOT the product of being rich.
Rich kids don’t apply to schools with this sort of “going anywhere he can get into” badge/chip on their shoulder. Of course they can afford any school. It requires no mentioning. In fact, they might get in anywhere they want because of money. I took a class at Holy Cross in a lecture hall that was named for a kid who was in my grade by his family. Here's a related sign you're not rich: no classrooms named after you while you're in college.

4. Gravel driveway
You can look into it until your eyes bleed. If you have a gravel driveway in a house that’s more than 500 yards from the ocean, you’re not rich.

5. Non-Pilot Honda
My parents (and FranT’s, I might add) decided to upgrade and ball outrageous in a Honda Pilot in the past 10 years or so...but growing up I enjoyed no such luxury. Whether you had a civic, accord, or what I suffered through, the accord wagon, these cars were workhorses, modern day beasts of burden, and there was nothing rich about them. One time my dad picked me up from a friend's house in his ‘94 accord wagon. My friend's parents had just got a BMW, and I asked why he didn’t have a car like that. He simply responded “because I don’t need one”, implying that he didn’t need a car or any other gadget to make him feel important. Classic.

My dad said if they didn't stop making these, he would've bought another one.

6. Sneaking sandwiches into Yankee games
You want a $10 hot dog?  Not in this lifetime pal. For you, a nice turkey sandwich that’s been in someone’s pocket for two hours.

7. Patio Basketball Hoop
The aforementioned gravel driveway meant that when I got a full-sized basketball hoop for Christmas (kinda rich...but wasn’t kinda not), it had to go on my raised patio. That meant if you dribbled the wrong way off the cobblestone, the ball was going in the other direction as you. And if you missed long, the ball was going in the ditch next to my house.

8. Eternally one game system behind
When I got Playstation, everyone else got N64. When I got N64 the following year, Sega Dreamcast was all the rage. When I was sucker enough to get Dreamcast, everyone else was just getting Playstation 2. Wait a minute...3 systems in 3 years?! Damn I was a brat, but a brat that knew enough not to ask for the “in” system which cost double what I was getting.

9. Packet Hoarding

Ketchup packets, soy sauce packets, sugar packets, and really any other kind of packets were taken from restaurants and stored in the kitchen as if the apocalypse were coming. But we probably saved hundreds of dollars over the years by not buying that stuff. The funny thing is, looking back now, saving all kinds of packets seems really smart. As do most little idiosyncrasies of your parents, when you really think about it. I may have to adopt some of these philosophies as a parent, and just hope one day my kids can appreciate all that makes them uniquely not rich.

"30 packets of ketchup!" would have been an easy request in my household

I may never be part of the 1%, but my mom always told me I was one in a million!

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