Mo Money, Mo Problems

THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G. ONCE SAID, “mo money, mo problems.”  But more money only creates more problems for people who’ve never had it and suddenly have more of it than they know what to do with. Like the way one in three people who win the lottery end up going broke within five years.

So it’s kind of true. But money creates problems even if you’re a trust fund babe. Having money breeds bad habits, to be specific—dumb habits that you tend to develop being born rich, and not the obvious stuff like acting like Paris Hilton. Don’t get me wrong, being born with money is mostly aces. Except…

Negotiating. Haggling. Arguing. Verbally sparring with a total stranger over how much of your cash is going to be spent on his services. Call it whatever you want. Doesn’t matter if it’s with a mechanic or, a hooker. If you were born rich, odds are you’re worse at it than most people. It’s nurture thing—we’re bad at it the same way Mormons are bad at binge drinking.

There’s a certain pathology a person born wealthy—that is, somebody with enough bank to not think twice about buying a top hat and monocle in case they ever go to the opera—develops over time that can be described as ‘Whatever, I’m rich.’ Quaker State guy changes the brake pads, refills the transmission fluid, rotates the tires, repairs the chassis aaaaand fixes the dent you swore you never had in the first place when all you asked for was an oil change? Whatever, I’m rich.

Realtor won’t lower the price on the mansion you want to buy because he doesn’t think Indian burial grounds are a big deal? Whatever, I’m, rich. Paypal won’t refund your money for the tiger you ordered online that never came? Whatever, I’m rich. Biff dings up your car while borrowing it and won’t pay the damages because he’s an asshole? Whatever, I’m rich.

It’s not that you don’t care, per say, about being ham-fisted out of a few extra bucks, it’s just that it’s a lot easier for you to let it roll off your back so you can go back to deciding between Hawaii and Saddam’s palace for the next vacation spot.

Maybe there’s no romance in abject poverty, but sometimes there’s a charm in being a part of the 99 percent. I mean, nobody ever watched The Notebook and started rooting for Rachel McAdams to marry the rich guy, right? Growing up rich, you want to fit in just like everybody else. But it’s hard when everybody else (the 99 percent) has real problems and you (the 1 percent), to put it mildly, have the whitest of white people problems.

Since about 80 percent of all human conversation revolves around complaining about something or other, you tend to get lost in the shuffle of friendship building when everybody else’s problem is that the school bus’ heater was broken this morning and your problem is your mom made you try caviar and you thought it tasted like butthole. LIKE BUTTHOLE!!!

Your only option is to complain about things that transcend money and are hard to quantify—usually emotional stuff you can totally make up without anybody ever really calling you on it. Oh, it’s sociopathic, make no mistake. But it’s an easy choice when being honest and unapologetic about being able to make it rain on them hoes means having nobody to call when you’re all grown up and actually do want to make it rain on them hoes.

Ahh, getting street cred—a rite of passage as American as Dubstep. See, there’s not enough glorified danger in the safe, sheltered, modular world of suburbia, so the trick is to either adopt a few ghetto subculture traits and call it a day or act out by breaking something or getting arrested. To be fair though, it’s really a tendency all sheltered suburban kids gravitate to once in their formative years, not just the filthy rich. Usually it’s simple stuff like wearing pants that hang off your ass, or turning your hat sideways, or acting exactly like that one kid who gets yelled at by Clint Eastwood for saying ‘bro’ in the movie Gran Torino.

Being rich and insulated is a lot to live down if you’re trying to prove that even though you wouldn’t step foot in the ghetto if Angelina Jolie offered you $10,000 and an old-fashioned, you know what’s going down on the streets, yo. You, being rich, have an oddly inverse relationship with street cred in that the farther you’re removed from it at birth, the farther you’re willing to go to get it.

Depending on how much shit you take for being rich, you end up aspiring to be one of those white guys from that Dave Chappelle joke who’s inexplicably hanging out with a group of black guys, and how you should be afraid of him the most because he did something crazy to earn their respect, like kill and eat the Dali Lama.

The urge to screw around and not work with your hands and not learn valuable Wonder Years life lessons is never stronger when you’re a kid. Which is kind of ironic since it happens no matter what, but whatever. Add money to that equation, and you have a perfect recipe for being useless the next time the sink drain clogs, or the gas furnace breaks down.

Growing up with money means not really going through hand-me-downs, or anything used. Everything you have is and/or was new when you got it. New bicycles, new cars, new water heaters…new anything. And when something does break down, the urge to just say ‘fuck it, let’s call an expert to fix it’ or ‘let’s get a new one’ is really hard to repress. That means never having the opportunity to help your dad fix the car, or the water heater when it inexplicably breaks down again because you can’t afford to just call a professional and dump it on him, or get a new one. You can afford to dump it on somebody else, or get a new one, so you usually do.

It’s an ethos of being handy and industriously clever that gets stunted by money. If Tom Sawyer was loaded, he wouldn’t have bothered going through all that reverse psychology double-talk nonsense to get a bunch of schmucks to paint his fence for him. Instead, he would’ve waved a $10 bill in front his friends at recess the day before and told them whoever paints my fence gets cash. And it would’ve worked. Because money is magic like that.


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