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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

In Fact, Money Does Buy Happiness

I've always cringed at the idea that money doesn't buy happiness. Tell it to a homeless person. Or to a single mother who would really like to go to college but can't afford tuition, books or childcare. Yeah, I know that's a cliché, but they're out there. Or tell it to me, when I really want a new couch. Oh wait...I have a new couch! As of 7 am this morning. And it's awesome, although I can't enjoy it because I'm so tired. I couldn't sleep last night because I was so excited about the couch.

I felt a bit awkward, because I realized too late that we didn't have enough coffee to offer Don and his dad, Don Sr. If I was at someone's house at 7 am and they didn't offer me coffee, I would think they were the devil. And I decided against coffee cake, because I didn't think they would be feeling as festive as I was. There was some very good karma floating around, though. I chatted with Don, Sr. while Jr. was out in the truck. Apparently, Jr. is the oldest of four boys, all of whom have nothing but sons, except for the youngest, who has two sons, but followed them with two daughters. Jr. and Sr. drive all over the southeast in an eighteen wheeler, delivering furniture for Room and Board. I always like meeting people who are from families full of sons, because I feel connected to them, in my silly hippy little way.

So, back to the purchasing of happiness. I would never claim that money could buy ultimate fulfillment. I don't even want ultimate fulfillment; it seems a bit crass, n'est-ce pas? But happiness? I know that we are actually happier because we can pay for the following things:
  • Marriage Counseling - Not much explanation needed here, but my husband and I both agree that we're happier since indulging.
  • Babysitters - Love our kids. Love knowing they're well cared for while we hang out in bars.
  • Meals in Restaurants - Yum. I really missed restaurants when we were first married. They're awesome.
  • Contributions to Charity - We give because we care and because it makes us feel good. Wanna' make something of it?
We fight less because we're able to pay for these:
  • A house with more than one bathroom - I live with four dudes. 'Nuff said.
  • Cars that run - We used to share one car. It was a great car, but it had its challenges. Whenever a big repair was necessary, we would fight. We probably would have preferred to fight with the car, but it was all Zen-like and did not respond, so we fought with each other. I'm not proud of this, but I used to try to blame every repair on my husband's bad driving. The car was nine years old. It was a Toyota, but still. And I won't even get into the fights we had over who should get the car every day. Low point: I told my husband, an assistant solicitor* at the time, that he needed to ride the bus. He pleaded with me, claiming that he couldn't stand up in court and prosecute someone he rode the bus with that morning. Not to mention riding home with them if he lost (never happened. He's a Rock Star.) He won that round.
  • Home repairs when we need them - See above. You can't fight with a house, so you go for the closest available target.
  • Clothes for ourselves - ummmm, okay. Clothes for me. I grew up with a mother who claimed that she hated shopping. While I think this is true, I think she also hated what she looked like, even though she was a babe (and I'm not just being nice. Don't you know that about me by now?) I refuse to let lack of a decent outfit kill my desire to rock. Frankly, I'm shallow as all get out and it makes me happy to buy clothes I love. There, I said it. Bite me.
I don't claim to be intellectual. I don't even claim to be all that bright. By the way, why does the word "bright" sound so patronizing? You never hear someone call an equal "bright." My husband and I got in one of our biggest fights ever when he referred to a female colleague as "bright." I accused him of being a filthy, sexist a**hole, which he isn't. Incidentally, that argument might have been prevented by less money. Back in the 90's, my parents could afford a very liberal, private school education for me. This education may have...just perhaps...lead me to over-analyze certain things just a teensy bit. But I digress. I think the claim, "Money doesn't buy happiness" is pretentious as hell. It implies that the speaker is so morally and intellectually superior that his (or her!) mere thoughts bring joy. Those of us who aren't quite as smart are left with our inferior and non-happiness-providing mental ramblings.

Money buys a lot of cool stuff. Furniture, clothes, fancy food and vacations (Disney World! Family Bonding! No lie!) aside, money can also provide intellectual stimulation and spiritual enlightenment for some of us not-so-bright losers. Higher education is an obvious one. But what about Yoga classes? And, let's be honest here, many people don't really feel comfortable at a church if they don't contribute financially. I know churches should welcome everyone, and I believe most of them try, but a lot of people feel embarrassed when they're unable to give as much as they would like. And counseling. Do I ever love counseling: fifty minutes with someone who has to listen to you talk about yourself. Like a best friend, that you pay! Sure, insurance might cover it, but if your insurance covers counseling, you probably aren't working part-time at Wal-Mart. You have to have really fancy insurance to get "talk" therapy, which is the fun kind. Any raving lunatic can get a publicly funded psychiatrist, but where's the fun in that?

Because I've strayed so far from my initial subject (the couch, lest you forget), here's one more picture, taken in the early morning light, while I sipped coffee in my husband's bathrobe. I was so into the coffee, because I couldn't drink it while the Dons were there. That would have been rude, since I didn't have any for them. By the way, we really need something in between the Bodum coffee press and the DeLonghi 20-60 Cup Coffee Urn. Anyhow...

Namasté, y'all!

* My strange and awesome state calls District Attorneys "Solicitors." Yeah, it's kind of annoying, because I had to write a footnote, but I like being different. I'm still lamenting the loss of the mini bottle, which made us the ultimate freaks. The mini bottle, by the way, is 1.7 ounces, more than the average pour in a fancy bar. My parents were so overwhelmed by the mini bottle that they used to split one two ways for a Gin Tonic.

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