Sunday, October 31, 2010

Money, Money, Money

Gabriella Herkert

Catnapped and Doggone

A couple of weeks (or was it months?) ago, we did a blog about how we, as impoverished authors and penniless scribes, would react if we were to have that magic ticket that leads to financial independence, the lottery ticket. Since my readers, those who’ve met me in person anyway, are always remarking on how much I am similar to my protagonist Sara, I thought this blog would be easy. Ditto. Done. Except…that money thing. It really is more personal than a finger print. Everyone has they’re hang-ups and Sara is worse than most.

On the up side, Sara is far more likely to actually win the lottery than I am. I can see her buying a ticket (which I believe is holding me back from cashing in). She might even spend a dollar a week to dream. Everyone knows the point of buying the ticket isn’t to win although I hear some people think that’s pretty good. No, with the odds being what they are, the point of buying a lottery ticket is to spend a little time imagining what winning would do for your life. Dreaming of castles and trips around the world and unlimited liposuction. Sara’s practical side could concede a buck a week to that moment of fantasy. Not more than that, though, because she’s barely making ends meet and she’s not going to ask her rolling in it husband for money. Community property may entitle her to half but no way is she going to get tagged a gold digger.

That brings us to deep-seated lottery conflict number 1. Sara doesn’t trust money or those who have it. Even her husband. Money is power. The attorneys in her office have it and use the disparity to enforce a workplace caste system. The clients that have it use it to get away with all manner of wrong-doing. And Connor’s ex-fiancee takes every opportunity to flaunt the family engagement ring she still wears in Sara’s face. Sara doesn’t have the power that money brings so she is ever vigilant in not acknowledging that she needs a bank balance to win a drop trou contest. The rules, those established by people with money and therefore power, would have her taking dictation from the princes of industry instead of forging her own path. The rules have never worked in Sara’s favor, aren’t supposed to work in her favor, in fact, so she isn’t “buying” in. A big bank balance would strip her of her underdog status while leaving her in the sub-caste of new money. Lose-lose.

Conflict number 2 – not sharing. Sara has been vehement about not making money an issue in her marriage. His is his and her is hers and if she’s got to have tuna fish four times a week, well, he’s off with those SEAL guys and he’ll never know. If she won the lottery, she couldn’t keep it and tell Connor. He’s living under the delusion that it’s “their” money. His, anyway. Men can be so dense. Setting up bank accounts and writing wills doesn’t make a woman feel secure enough to hand over the power that money brings into a relationship. Sara’s never going to write a check on any of those accounts. If she won the lottery, she would happily give over half to him except he still wouldn’t get it. To Connor, money is just green paper. He’d still think there weren’t any money issues in their relationship. To Sara, it would be you get half of mine but I’m not touching yours. Better to just not have the conversation. Relationships run so much more smoothly when you just don’t talk about this stuff. Of course, if he were to find out, he’d be mad. Not about the money. About the not talking. Men are dense and indecipherable.

Conflict number 3 – sharing. If Sara has a winning ticket, she’s giving Russ half. He’s her best friend. He’s gone to scary places with her. He fixes her hair when she starts to look like Medusa and tells her when those shoes really, really don’t go with that dress. He’ll take it. He’ll also have fifty ideas in the first five seconds on ridiculous, fabulous ways to spend the winnings as mad money. Rent out Benaroya Hall for a Marie Antoinette fancy dress ball. Set up a Victoria, British Columbia weekend with English high tea and quaint bed and breakfast accommodations for a hundred. Hand out hundred dollar bills at the Union Gospel Mission and the tent city for the homeless. The money, no matter how much, would be gone lickety split. Like Connor, Russ has no respect for money. It’s a means to an end. And the end is a good time and good works. Unfortunately, that kind of kindness is the sort of thing that would get out and Sara would be back to facing Connor’s wrath for the no-conversation approach she finds so comforting.

How would Sara spend her half? Matching Russ. Being out of debt. Maybe a new pair of running shoes and a couple of thousand in the bank for emergencies. The rest, well, Sara would give away. She’s lived close enough to the edge for long enough that she can see the there but for the grace of God go I line. It makes it easier not to judge. Besides, being a have instead of a have not would dull her instincts – for corruption, for evil, for survival. And those instincts have gotten her this far in life when it would have been a lot easier to just accept crumbs. I’m thinking she’ll stick with them. They’re more valuable than any one in 79 million chance.

Thanks for reading and I hope you get your own chance to decide how to spend your lottery winnings.



Rebecca Cantrell said...

Go Sara! Her convictions are expensive, for sure, but it sounds like they are worth it.

Happy Halloween, Gabi!

Gabi said...

Is it wrong to buy Halloween candy (even without a lotto bank account) and then be unavailable to answer the door? Wanna come over for a diabetic coma party?

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Wrong is such a complicated concept.

I'd love to, but my husband has rigged up the house with numerous contraptions and I think I need to work one of the rope and pulleys (not even kidding). It's the most wonderful time of the year! (singing voice stops, mercifully).

Remember to have plenty of milk on hand. It's the best way to pound maximum amounts of chocolate.

Sue said...

I like the concept of thinking what Sara would do with lottery winnings instead of yourself! I'll have to think about that some more. For me, the idea of who I could help is tantalizing. A number of years ago the lottery was at $300M, so a coworker and I each bought a ticket, pledging to split it if either of us won, and to each give a year's salary to a coworker who was having a host of problems (including terminal cancer, as it turned out). We were more disappointed for her sake than for ours that we didn't win. (And no, eating candy and not opening the door is NOT wrong - just leave the porch light off.)