Tuesday, May 11, 2004

rod steward ship

Okay, I can’t refrain from talking about this any longer. I’ve committed to honesty and confession and transparency as a force in my blog, so as long as it hurts no one but me, I’ve got to try to talk about it. I have weird money issues. I know that some of you know this. I don’t know that some of you know this. I have issues with my money. I have issues with other people’s money. For most of my life, I’ve had no extra money. There is certainly no issue there. As long as one can provide for his family, it seems he can be pretty comfortable and uncomplicated without the extra baggage. I used to really enjoy driving up to a gig in my old pick-up truck and pulling out my guitar and playing for extremely wealthy people while they wasted money. It always fascinated me and gave me a sense of (sinful) pride that if these people met me in the grocery store they wouldn’t give me the time of day, but here, they knew that I had something that they couldn’t buy and they would flock to talk to me when I would take a break and often even interrupt me to start up a conversation. All around the room, there was a hierarchy of monetary worth that determined who talked and sat with whom, but I was somehow, by virtue of my instrument, outside all of it. But it would never have been these people I would have chosen to hang with. I would be much more comfortable around people who had little, among whom I didn’t have to be proud of having little. I’ve even confessed on these cyber pages of the weird sinful pride of driving an 11 year-old truck with no door handles.

On Wednesday evening, I bought a new bike (new to me). My old bike is too small for me and gets very uncomfortable with my knees practically up to my ears. I’ve wanted to get a bigger bike for some time, but lo and behold, bikes cost money. Well, I finally found a dream bike that didn’t cost as much money as it should have, so I did the necessary number crunching and figured out how to have it.
I want that to be a sufficient explanation, but I’m constantly fighting the compulsion to explain to everyone how little the bike cost and how I came by the money. Honestly, in defense of myself, I’m not really the source of the compulsion. I was asked three times at church Wednesday night how much the bike cost. I want to say, “not very much”, but that’s relative, isn’t it? I thought about saying, “why? are you thinking of buying it?” I want to explain that for the past two years, I’ve spent one-third as much on gas just by riding to work. Right now, that amounts to a savings of about $75 dollars a month, which would be more than enough to make the payment on the bike, had I financed it; but that’s not the money I spent on the bike.
You wouldn’t believe how many things I want to say about this, but because in my heart of hearts I know that it is not right that I should have to justify it, I am biting my fingers to keep from typing it.
I think I know from whence all this fascination with price comes. Motorcycles must be the ultimate in conspicuous consumption. A sunny Sunday ‘round here brings out millions of dollars worth of glow-in-the-dark V-twins. I’ve long suspected that most Harley owners don’t live to ride, but live to own. Then I realized that they are willing to spend way more than is necessary, because it is necessary to spend way more. How cool your bike is is less important than how much money you spent to make it that way. I know a guy who’s chrome Harley bolt caps cost more than my old bike, and whose saddlebags cost more than my truck. And he’s happy to tell you. I have an issue with being associated with this.
But see, I’m doing what I don’t want to do. I’m back where I was in grad school, sinning in pride of being different from “those guys”. That is my confession.
And here is my question, is it wrong for me to want just to ride and enjoy my bike without having to tell strangers how much it cost?
I have two hobbies now. And one pays for the other. Is it ok to ask me how much I make at one hobby? Why is it ok to make the other about how much it costs or doesn't? Why do some have to be proud of expenditures and consumption? Why do I have to be proud of the opposite - of non-expenditures, or embarrassed by spending money?
So, there is some insight into the quirky mind of Rod.