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Rant #178
(published May 20, 2004)
An E-Mail
by Manish Tushar Raiji

To: "S. Williams"
From: "M. Raiji"
Subject: I have bills.

No, seriously, I have bills. I'm not broke, I'm not on the brink of some sort of financial collapse ... in fact, I've been pretty precise in my economical planning and I'm trying to put away as much of a nest egg that working like a goddamn Mexican laborer, for almost the same amount of pay, can afford me. I'm putting away enough to pay for maybe half of half of a quarter of a semester of grad school if I choose that route (because, seriously, I have no hope of saving up some comfortable stockpile given my spending).

But man, do I have bills. It's odd because I don't have cable, I don't have any newspaper or magazine subscriptions (though I'm thinking about The Economist, or maybe GQ, or maybe a Hustler/Pink Bits combo that'll really add to the classiness of my lifestyle) ... hell, I don't even have to worry about heat and electricity because my magnanimous landlord already bundled it into my rent (with a pretty hefty percentage increase, to be sure, but still). My bills are stemming from the fact that, since becoming part of the full-blown American workforce, I have joined the really insincere club of consumerists.

Honestly. I buy things when I'm in a good mood. I buy things when I'm in a bad mood. I buy things when I'm hung-over and when I'm up with the sun. I buy because it seems to fill some sort of void in my life ... lacking any serious intellectual discourse, I'm settling with Hugo Boss overcoats and some goddamn Kenneth Cole shoes. I think the people at Banana Republic actually know me by name ... which has no potential romantic implications because they are all gay men (and I'm not interested) or straight women who think I'm gay because I bought a sweater-vest and a button-down there (and lord knows it does no good to ask a girl out if she thinks you bat left-handed). I bought a television and a Playstation II (plus three games) in one day ... why? Because, I was bored and my tired body wasn't being particularly compliant with my friends' repeated requests to go play football in the weekend snow. I have a new car, and by new, I mean 14-miles-on-the-odometer new. It was made in Germany, but it only took 14 miles to get to me.

I want a new stereo but I fear going to Best Buy because I won't be reasonable ... I'll buy something with a receiver and a built-in mixer and maybe even turntables a system that even people with better careers and better paychecks would blink and think twice before putting down the cash for. I don't have a mortgage, nor can I afford one, but I'm tempted by the fact that my bank offers a pretty sweet finance plan for new homeowners. I find that I enjoy buying socks instead of doing laundry. I want to start prospecting in rare gems. I don't go to Hollywood Video to rent a movie, I go to Barnes & Nobles to buy one (or two, or three, or what the hell, they're on sale, I'll grab five). I have broadband and could theoretically test run music, but I'd rather just buy an album just because I read a good review of it in Esquire — and lord knows Esquire isn't the pinnacle of good musical taste. An original Gutenberg printing of the Holy Bible is up for sale and I want it — but I'm not Christian nor do I read Latin. I don't repair belts, I buy new ones. I buy three new ones. I buy books that I don't have time to read and pants that I don't have the style to wear. I want to re-carpet my apartment because this beige color sometimes makes me feel dull. Actually, I want to de-carpet my apartment and install hardwood floors. I pull the screen off my window and throw twenties down onto the street, just to see the peons dance. I send postcards with 37-cent stamps because, seriously, why would I buy the cheaper stamps? I am, after all, a man of high tastes. I pour Champaign in my cereal instead of milk. Actually, only the unemployed eat cereal. I eat Danishes imported from Europe. But I dip them in Champaign. How much is that original Monet in the window? I'll take it, and wrap up the Jackson Pollock, just for aesthetic contrast ... they'll make great centerpieces above the new Egyptian table I bought on auction from Sotheby's. I don't need those Mendlesham chairs, and in fact they do not match the dcor in my apartment, but I'll take the whole set of six. I've thrown away two Armani suits because I spilled some cocaine on the sleeves. I do coke because it's chic. I sometimes pull into a gas station, insert my credit card, and pour $65.28 worth of gas on my tires because I read somewhere that it'll give me better traction. I'm engaged in a fierce bidding war with Jack Nicholson over Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones mansion in Aspen. Forget the Hummer, I want a limo. And a chauffeur. And a mini-bar. And not one, not two, but three strippers, preferably a blonde, a brunette, and a redhead ... but I'm not picky as long as the boobs are real. Hell, the boobs don't even have to be real. I hear that the Hope Diamond is up for sale.

Ok, so obviously I'm being a bit grandiose, but the sentiment remains singularly unreasonable. I like to buy things. What the hell happened to me? I was an ascetic man! I was Mahatma Gandhi with thrift-store clothing and jeans that were picked off the sales rack in 1996. Sure, I had style, but it was always a sort of unfinished, cheap, "this is the bare essentials" sort of style. The sort of style borne out of collegiate poverty. I bought my shaving brush in India for the equivalent of $0.03, but now I want to buy an ivory-handled, boar-hair one, complete with shaving soap from France and a razor with my name engraved on the golden handle. My teeth are white, but maybe I could just get them capped for that extra-brilliant Hollywood smile? That's not right man, that's just not right. I want business cards, but Ive never been in a situation where I could seriously hand someone a business card without an air of pomposity and insincerity that would make everyone in the given situation extraordinarily uncomfortable. I want silk sheets, but I want them to be changed back to cotton by a beautiful Italian woman whenever I'm in the mood for "roughing it." I'm going to give up tennis because it's such a commoner's paradise ... no, it's full-scale adventure mountain climbing for me now. REI will need three forms of identification just to accept a check that big.

I'm holding myself back, and most of what I spend is still pretty reasonable, but I still spend more then I ever have spent in the past, and more than I really should. I recognize that this is the economics of income ... that my tastes haven't necessarily changed, just my means. But goddamn it, I'm not rich, I'm just pretending to that throne.

In completely related events ... how about Frisco? This whole email has really been a front for asking you about that, and I didn't feel like sending you a one-line "Hey, how about San Fran?" email. I'm completely up for a weekend in California. If you're up for it, I think it would be an excellent trip. Let me know. I've been thinking about some ocean-front property for a while now ...


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