So how, you might ask, did I keep up with the Canadian Chiquitas in the Big Apple? Was I secretly:
Only a few years older and on the other coast?
Nah. I wasn’t brave enough for such illicit thrills. If I were like Angel here, I wouldn’t be writing a blog. I’d be publishing a scandalous and titillating memoir worth millions.
So how did I do it?
It’s time for the magician to reveal her tricks.
Are you ready?
Whenever I needed money, it appeared. There was no trick. The money was actually magic. Like Jack’s beans or Snow White’s mirror. Like manna.
If you’re anything like The Scientist, you will pshaw this explanation. The Scientist will point out that there is always a logical explanation, even if we can’t always know what it is. He’s not big on the mystical and mysterious (his mother, Bubby Frummy, who gave birth to three boy-scientists, likes to say, with pride, as she watches my kids turn sticks into lightsabers and chairs into spaceships, that none of her kids ever engaged in make-believe play. I’m not sure if that statement is supposed to impress a woman who spent 13 years in higher education studying “make-believe.”). Woe to the sweet, innocent person in our house who might say, in confusion and frustration, “I don’t get science” (Confession: it’s me. If it weren’t the case, I would be the one applying to Sint Eustatius right now). A surefire way to drive The Scientist to distraction? Let’s say we’re back in our Western Canada home and all of a sudden my eyes start watering, and when I try to blink away my tears, my upper and lower lashes freeze together. In my overwrought, blinded state, I might yell, “CLOSE THE DOOR! YOU’RE LETTING IN ALL THE COLD AIR!” Oh boy would that set The Scientist off on a diatribe.
Are you with The Scientist? Looking for a logical explanation for my magic money? Surely that “magic” was my trust fund (did I mention my father was a welder?). Or a side-job (have I mentioned I didn’t and don’t possess a green card?). Or something illegal? (I’m too boring. Was raised with that bourgeois morality of Jewish suburbia. See above re: no bravery).
Well, you’ll say, the obvious source was my parents who continued to spoil me. I will admit there is some truth in that. I would call them up and not beg for money or anything, but just casually mention that it turned out I didn’t have enough money to pay my credit card bill that month and so it seemed I would end up paying the 17 or 22 or 29% interest on my bill. Or was it all my bills?—since owning the credit card? Until eternity? I wasn’t quite sure, since of course I had never failed to pay my credit card in full, which was a given, since no one bearing our family name had ever failed to do such a thing. Boom. Money would show up in the joint account I had with my parents. (In an episode of “Ricki Lake” on mooching, from sometime in that fin-de-siècle, you can find the Poor Princess standing up in the audience to boast about what a mooch she is and how long she’s been one. [It was a dare, people!])
Actually, if we’re going to get all boringly factual, the beans of magic money that built my SoHo beanstock probably came from many sources. Once, I discovered I had been a(n, unbeknownst to me) plaintiff in a class action suit against my phone company, and I deserved money from them. Another time, there was a class action suit against my credit card. Sometimes my grandmother would send cash in the mail—$36 tucked into a Valentine’s Day card, $100 in a birthday card. A few dollars of interest on my security deposit showed up once a year. Old GICs and Canada Savings Bonds, bought from my Bat Mitzvah money and long forgotten, came due. And at seemingly random periods, my Canada Students Loans would be processed (worth, in American dollars, maybe 60% of their Canadian value if I was lucky) and deposited into my account.
So that’s it. There you have it. My fairy-taled single life with the gritty realism of a Zola novel. Minus the mines and deaths and riots and all that.
I miss living in a fairy tale, where you can rub on a brass lamp or wish on a star or ask a fairy godmother or open the mailbox–and your wish will come true. There’s not much in the way of magic money these days. Pity, maybe, but not magic. The other day, I lamented the loss of my favorite Lululemon headband that I had been wearing for five years—it slipped, silently, off my head as I walked home from the gym—and within the hour, my mother was at her local Lululemon buying me gift certificates that are worth about 20 headbands (“It’s your early birthday present,” she tells me). My in-laws, Bubby and Zaidie Frummy, also make me the beneficiary of their beneficence; my horseshoe jeans, jeans for all mankind, and Lulu yoga pants were all presents from them. But otherwise, I’m not in the habit of tripping over $100 bills.
And it’s too bad. After all, I will confess, it was never really the money that was magic. It was the age that was magic. Something about it makes you believe you are economically invincible (or at least, you could never be too financially f*&ed, you could never starve or have nowhere to live), which is probably the thing that makes you believe you are physically invincible (“Skydiving? Jumping out of an airplane? Awesome! SIGN ME UP!!”). But that kind of magic needs its series of mini-miracles to stay believable. . .
The other day I took Cool J to the Y, where he stared longingly at the pool and asked me, so nicely, if he could take swimming lessons. I wanted to say yes. He wasn’t asking for the Imperial Shuttle (again). And doesn’t the Torah only have one demand on parents: “A father is obligated to teach his son how to swim”? (Not even: a father must teach his son the Kaddish. Or a father must teach his son the Shema. Just to swim!). A 6-week session of swimming lessons at the Y costs $90. I wished for the return of magic.
And lo and behold!—it came! When I got home that day, The King of Hearts, a friend from across the continent and over the border called to see if I could do him a small favor. His company was trying out new checks in the US, and would I be able to receive a couriered check for $100, take it to the bank, cash it, and then report on the process to him?
I could keep the money.