guilt gluttons and goats
The other day I got a call from Nicky. He found ‘Buffy Holt’ after a friend of a friend pointed out I’d been writing about his grandfather and that summer in France; he sent me a lovely photo of the three of us and said I should post it.
I said “No thank you. I’d just as soon leave you shrouded in a shred of anonymity in case I want to repeat something I shouldn’t.” I find this approach works best with a family who keeps an entire firm of lawyers on retainer…just in case. So, the old man’s dear face will stay out of my blog. Nicky’s words to me will not.
He called to moan. To call himself “poverty stricken”. He does this every now and again. Calls me to grieve. Because I’m the only person he knows without a trust fund and he assumes I understand what it’s like to be poor. (Note: Poor in Nicky’s world does not translate to poor in any other.)
His grandfather left him a fortune, but it’s tied up in rules and stipulations and he hates it.
“Can you believe it, Buffy? I had more than this at Uni.”
Of course he still has regular use of family homes, cars etc, but he doesn’t get a cent above two million a year (Dollars or Euros…I didn’t ask) unless he has a legitimate job – as determined by a Trustee – then he gets more.
“If I have a job,” he said, “Why do I need more? It’s when I’m unemployed that things are hard. Pappou never made things easy for me.”
‘Easy’ is being able to buy a Spyker C8 and not feel the pinch.
I laughed until I almost threw up. “Oh, puhlease. You’re calling me to moan because your grandfather is making you draw out 90million 2 at a time?”
“You say it like I’m over reacting.”
I swear, that’s what he said.
Nicky is a darling. When he’s broke. He can eat supermarket cereal, laugh with you at Family Guy and be friendly to your friends.
When he has money. He is a mystery. An unpleasant one. One with no time for anyone or anything that matters. His grandfather knew it. And he knows it. (You know you do.)
I told him to shut up.
“Go buy some goats,” I said. “It’ll make you feel better.”
It’s what I do. Treat guilt with goats. Through sustainable livelihood programs like Neighbours Initiative Alliance (NIA) and the Peri-Urban Agriculture Project. It sounds flippant. It’s not.
“Do you have any idea what kind of herd you could buy with 2 million? And I know you make more than that with ‘X’.” When Nicky has a job, it’s as an investment banker at ‘X’.
“Buffy. I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not good with other people’s money. I can barely manage my own. They don’t want me there.” *Sigh* “I don’t think I’ve ever been this depressed.”
Nicky told me this from a Loft in Chelsea. The one he didn’t buy. He was still in bed. Eating someone else’s eggs. Waiting for a driver to pick him up and take him to a job he didn’t work for.
Money may not buy happiness. But at least you can be miserable in comfort. Nicky is comfortable misery if he’s anything. He’s hard work. But aren’t we all. We’re all wasteful. Gluttonous. If we don’t feed on food it’s power, prestige or designer duds. It’s sometimes difficult to see beyond our circumstances. To see the world outside our own. But what kind of people are we if we don’t?
I go on about Nicky. I roll my eyes and sit and wonder. But I threw away two bags of half eaten thanksgiving dinner last week. Big. Bin. Bags.
Wonder how many goats that would have bought?