The media was shocked last week to come upon the latest study from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities showing the "chasm" between wealthy and low-income city dwellers. Oh, to be low-income. As an embittered artist cranked at me recently, "You can't live in Toronto on less than 30 grand!" Really? Then, as Aggie Oh Me Nerves would say, where am I at?
My inquiries into what one would do with such a sum ("Are you back on the stuff?") brought a quick end to the conversation and left me with only my imagination to fill in the luxurious possibilities.
Now, I seen - tavern vernacular is gradually usurping proper speech, for which I find very little need - I seen in the paper where you can survive on $30,000 per annum, but just barely. The gist was that it might sound like a lot of loot, but scraping by on 30 per means you're nouveau pauvre. And it was even convincing.
But, then, I believe some of the headlines on the Weekly World News, too. "Woman in Toronto Canada Lives It Up On Less Than $10,000! For The Whole Year!!! 'It'd take three of me to make one poor person!' she brags."
Oh, long ago I had the dream of earning enough to register as a fem pov stat. But I knew I'd never make the grade the day the charity lady told me I was too poor to qualify for subsidized housing in the home for washed-up performers. Did I take a vow of poverty?I know the decades of chastity wasn't my idea. I must find my baptismal certificate and read the fine print. Maybe the priest signed me up as a nun and no one ever told me.
The other day I was stuffing pennies into paper tubes I had to buy at the aptly named Dollar Store, thinking, "This should really be depressing me, shouldn't it?" But the worst I could come up with was, "Ha, I bet ole Jim Carrey I seen at the bar last night (televised), I bet he doesn't count copper." Maybe silver and gold. Big deal. I hear rich people are very unhappy and have to take interior decorators on holidays with them because they have no friends.
I must say I have always been somewhat in the lead of the advanced guard (as they call it in France). Thinking Americans and "post-consumerist" Europeans are paying (so ironic I'll skip it) to learn how to attain what I haven't got. They're eschewing, forgoing and getting in touch with nature. Which is very good, but converts never know when to stop. It's easy to buy nothing when you have no money, and to scorn plastic and Styrofoam if you're not a zombie. But the guilt of reformed shoppers drives them into a frenzy of volunteer work that experienced poor people rarely feel the need to perform. Then the post-consumers negate all their green efforts by breeding children who eat Big Macs in cars with engines running to spite their parents.
The American Revolution, according to PBS, was in reaction to the excesses of England, where decadent sloths spent half the day dressing for seven-hour suppers. Sounds like my kind of life. I can ace the dressing part, but my dinner calendar is notably blank.
The longest I can linger over one of my Tasty Meals for One Canadian Dollar or Less is about 20 minutes. At that rate, a seven-hour feed would run $21, sans vin. Twice as much if I have a guest. The challenge of locating a sartorial equal is daunting, if not insurmountable. I guess I could take an extra half-day to outfit somebody. But shouldn't a full-shift dinner party involve a whole crowd of splendid invitees?
If I only had the $20,000 I require to be poor - minus taxes, even - I could spend it all on one fabulous feast. Maybe if I worked something out with the New Frugalists. While they're discovering the joy of wearing used pants and knitting their own dish cloths, I can relieve them of their cash burdens. They can revel in the castoffs I've had to wear my whole life, while I go out and find that shoemaker girl, Sara, whose number disappeared when a do-gooder swept my floor. Brand new handmade sterling-trimmed shoes, and piles of fancy employment for underappreciated seamstresses. I'll take two days to dress, and dinner will go on for a week. Oh, the things I could do if I were really poor!