I live in a very small town on the North Shore of Chicago. The population is something like 2,000. Of those 2,000, say half are female, 500 are of child-bearing age, 300 are the mothers of the children in my kids' school, and 50 or 60 are the parents of the kids in my children's classes. Of those 50 or 60 mothers, I socialize with exactly ... three.
Now I'm a gregarious soul, and I've lived in this town for almost seven years. So these numbers trouble me slightly. Why on earth don't I have more friends?
Well, I think I've figured out why.
Through a combination of entropy and sheer ineptness, my husband and I haven't been spending our money the way we're supposed to. I might be wrong about this, but in this town, you're supposed to spend your money on huge, House Beautiful-style houses and big-ass SUVs and/or imported luxury sedans. And we don't. Not that we can't afford to; we just can't be bothered because we don't care enough about that kind of thing.
Well, OK, we care a little. I mean, if someone could wave a magic wand and give me a new car and even more important, get rid of the old one for me, sure, I'd take it. But if you're not interested in cars, the process of acquiring one is labor-intensive, anxiety-producing, and ultimately, pretty boring. You have to hit all these websites and compare makes, models, years, options, Consumer Reports articles, crash-test results (who the hell cares? I don't plan on having any accidents, anyway,) etc., etc.
And let's not even go into the little matter of Real Estate and how much fun it is to buy and sell. Every time I think about dumping this house and moving into something a bit more House Beautiful, I think about having to put it on the market ... and I end up in front of the bar, gulping Jim Beam out of the 1.75 liter bottle. I'm kidding. (But not by that much.)
So we're driving around in a 1993 Saturn SL2, the first car I ever owned, bought when we lived in the city and had to park it on the street. We're also driving my sister's old 1994 Volvo 940 Turbo wagon. Which by the way has a big-ass dent in the driver's side door because in 1999 a teen-aged girl backed into me. The insurance company told me we could get $1,800 to fix it but I've never bothered to figure out how to get the money from them or have the dent fixed. See what I mean? Talk about entropy!
And we're living in what would be a starter house, except we're such lame-os we'll probably end our lives there. Or at least hang out until they cart us, our walkers, and our hearing aids to the Bide a Wee Retirement facility.
Now nobody around here would be so crass as to say "Wow, you people must be really poor the way you live in a small, not-particularly fixed-up house and drive the two oldest, most beat-up looking cars in town." But that's probably what they're thinking. And since poor is among the least attractive things you can be in these parts, they're giving us a wide berth.
Either that or it's my breath.