Discussing Your Broke-Ass Lifestyle Without Scaring Your Family
Recently, I gave my grandma a jingle to thank her for the desperately-needed cash that she sent to me for my birthday. Little did I know that my 80 year old granny has been reading this Goddamn Website! I mean, she lives in LA, chain smokes, goes to galleries, and wears cool shades– so in actuality she is probably The Original Hipster– but I was still surprised that she even knows how to turn on a computer. Our phone conversation turned to my broke-ass lifestyle, starting with this gem from the Laven family matriarch:
“You know, I really enjoy reading your articles, because I learn things about you that I wouldn’t otherwise know. Like, you’re not a lesbian, and you like that celebrity who was in the movie about chocolates.”
After about 20 minutes of me listing off every celebrity who has ever been in a film about chocolates, and a discussion of what this mystery celebrity looks like (“He’s not as good-looking as Brad Pitt, but not as ugly as Buscemi”), I realized that good ol’ granny was talking about Tom Hanks (“I like when he dances on the piano.”).
While my apparently-surprising heterosexuality and love of the King of Everymen are indeed embarrassing, they can really only be qualified as personal quirks, and not aspects of broke-assness. However, I also constantly find myself sugarcoating my impoverished state when speaking to my parents and grandparents over the phone. I mean, they already think that I am a gay Bosom Buddies aficionado– I can’t have them thinking that I am one step up above a hobo as well. Here are some lines I’ve fed to my elders to save my poor-girl reputation from becoming “oh, poor me”:
1) “We live in a railroad-style apartment. It’s fun because we’re like sisters.”
Translation: I share an apartment with an alcoholic loudmouth who moved in her boyfriend without telling me. They live off of a diet that consists solely of processed meats, and I am constantly awoken at 4am to the sounds and smells of Vienna sausages frying in a pan. The gap between our shared wall acts as a funnel for sound, amplifying the constant stream of Law and Order: CI, ghetto death threat-peppered lover’s quarrels, and Vienna sausage farts occurring on the other side.
2) “My roommate is just so… edgy.”
Translation: I share an apartment with an alcoholic loudmouth who moved in her boyfriend without telling me (yup, another one.). She is a bulimic/animal hoarder/drug addict/squatter with violent tendencies and tons of bad tattoos. I may say that she’s “edgy,” but I’m really afraid that she’s going to push me over the edge (or, you know, kill me or whatever).
3) “I’ve lost weight because I walk so much. New York is great!”
Translation: I live off a diet of taco truck burritos and whatever brand of ice cream is on sale this week.
4) “I thought I’d try choppy bangs because they are quirky-cute. You know, like the movie Amelie.”
Translation: I can’t afford a real haircut and have the shakes.
5) “My job as an office temp is a good step toward the fashion job I’ve always dreamed of.”
Translation: The only similarity between the mind-melting data entry I’m doing and my glittery fashion dreams is that both jobs take place inside of offices. Instead of listening to Miu Miu clogs clomp around all day, I listen to the sound of my boss’s s Casual Friday flip flops (which, fortunately, are so loud that I know when to Ctrl + M from a mile away).
They say that you can’t polish a turd, but, my friend, you can polish a broke-ass. Granny’s old and fragile, you don’t want to scare her with tales of dipping into your laundromat quarter stash to buy a slice of pizza. Of course, if your grandma is hip like mine, she’ll just find you in cyberspace and dig up all of your dirty secrets anyway. But when I make that occasional phone call, I will continue to spit-shine my empty-pocketed lifestyle– after all, I wouldn’t want my grandma to fall and break her ass (or hip) worrying about me being a broke-ass.
Photo credit: Lee Martinez