By Lindsey Kemp
I am a poor girl. Not poor in the sense that my house is made out of a box that reads "Maytag." Poor in the sense that I am working at a private school for very little money and paying for the gas for my daily 50-mile commute eats half of my paycheck. My Honda died the other month and I had to buy a new car. Also, I am saving for a wedding that I have agreed to pay half for. So, at the end of the week, I am left with just enough to buy a Starbucks latte.
I know this will change. I'm simply without funds at the moment. Though I find solace in the "at the moment" status of my poverty, sometimes it is hard. I wept so much today in a moment of self-pity that I nearly blew my sinuses out my nostrils. That is why I have, through trial and error, Kleenex after Kleenex, come up with some solutions to make poor girls feel like poor-but-fun girls.
When times are tough and it feels as if the only meal you can afford are the crumbs on your kitchen floor, creativity is the key to solving your problems. I know because I'm currently planning my wedding with my fiancé, Shaun, and we can't even afford to go to the car wash. I'm not kidding--there is a car wash down the street for $5 and when Shaun told me recently that he took my dingy, rusty, soon-to-die 1994 Honda Accord through the suds machine as a treat for me, I contemplated killing him for a solid 20 seconds. This is unhealthy because murder is no way to start off a happy marriage.
There are times when ignoring the lack of cash feels easy. You can coast through the day by going to work, coming home, popping Season 5 of Grey's Anatomy in, and falling asleep with a bowl of Easy Mac in your lap. The next day, repeat. But then comes the day after that--your gas tank's on empty, you ran out of toilet paper, and you ate the breakfast burrito you found in the back of your freezer, which seemed like a good idea at the time but now your bowels are playing Taps as you sit through your morning meeting.
When the daily balance on your debit card turns out to be lower than the cost of two-ply, it is time to ask cosmic questions. Didn't The Jetsons promise us robotic servants and flying Hondas? What kind of false promises did Hanna-Barbera spoon feed us as children? Though the 21st century feels like it needs a major do-over, the times are what they are, and this we must accept.
When saving is almost impossible, staying in on the weekends becomes unavoidable. My friends and I have game nights when we don't want to wallow in self-pity alone. Game nights can be fun with the right people, but I warn you now: Do not invite anyone who cheats--we once played Guesstures with a dude who cheated, and we kicked him out of our lives, because what sick monster cheats at Guesstures? Oh, and he yelled at us when we called him out on it--so don't invite angry people, either. Actually, sometimes it's good to invite an angry cheater, because that's what we call "free entertainment," but make sure he's small and gets really red in the face when he's having an episode, because little red-faced angry cheaters make for the best jokes after you have someone throw him out onto the lawn, Jazzy Jeff-style.
Sometimes my girlfriends and I will sit around for hours and prank phone call guys who failed miserably at picking us up at the bar. Sure, we're almost 30 and shouldn't be doing the dirty tricks usually done by pre-pubescent girls, but in this economy, we can do whatever keeps the gun away from our heads. Here's a nice suggestion: block your number, then give Johnny Too Cool your ex's cell phone number and ask him to call you back. It's just plain fun to image your ex flipping out about Johnny Too Cool calling for his hot, "she's the one who got away" ex.
Buy greeting cards from your local pharmacy that have nothing to do with anything, fill them out with messages detailing with excellent memory the prank phone calls that you and your best friends made to Johnny Too Cool, or that really angry red-faced cheater at your last game night, and leave them on your friends' car windshields as you drive around eating homemade cookies. Some may call this silly, but I call those people stupid, because A.) homemade cookies are the bomb diggity because you and only you can have control over the amount and placement of chocolate chips, B.) this is a nice bonding experience with whoever is dumb enough to drive around with you, and C.) who doesn't love a "Feliz Navidad" card in April?
These are the worst of times, but they are creative times. Go with it. All great recessions must come to an end, and flying cars will be here any day.