Tuesday, March 11, 2008


A couple of weeks ago I went out to Scarborough to visit a youth shelter for work. I texted my co-workers to let them know I had arrived safely in the east end of town (EEEEEEEEEAST SIIIIIDE) as I don't think I'd ever gone much east of Kitty's house on Binscarth Ave, RosedAle.

After spending an hour getting to know the resident yout's and taking in the cultural sights of Kennedy Rd. (ie a Giant Tiger) I was ready to head back to the safe confines of Yonge and Bloor, where there are ten Starbucks within spitting distance from my office (nary a Coffee Time in sight) and where the pink Holt Renfrew flag salutes me with pride (both gay and retail-like).

The following two weeks were a blur on the early spring time party circuit; as such I ended up running into old and new friends alike most of whom are citizens of Toronto's vast midtown blocks of upper middle class gentry (Loser Park, RosedAle, Faux Hill etc...) - and all admitted, after we exchanged the requisite pleasantries of our generation:

"How's work/ your master's program/ law school?" &
"How's your boyfriend/ girlfriend/ the pretty dumb guy you were fucking?"

"Fine" & "Oh" ... that they were flat broke.

"We should go out." I'd ask.
"Dinner?" They suggested.
"Yes! But where?"
"Somewhere cheap. Last month's credit card bill...."

Their admittance was part of an alarming trend I had been noticing with both acquaintances and close friends alike.

"I'm poor." The Village's Favourite Oyster admitted to me over cake balls last weekend (think cake, icing and melted chocolate. Cakeballs are a party in your mouth - and sidenote: wouldn't you want to date a girl that makes you cakeballs?)
"Me too," I agreed.
"But how can we be poor? We're from Forest Hill?" She asked.

Such a question begs for an answer... And so - like my therapist suggests: its time to assign blame (not on myself, as I am perfect), but on someone or something else. So who should we assign blame on this late night? Why are my friends and also me so… pov nation? The answer perhaps lies in society; as, my mother, Sim Sim Sima said upon reflection: "You're generation - has all of these toys. Laptops, blackberry's, those music things you all have (she's talking about IPods). All of these toys are all very expensive. Expensive and disposable." [Sim Sim Sima is reading this and probably crossing her heart because for the first time in ages I haven't blamed her for anything. This is a big day for her ladies and gentlemen, send her some love.] The WWSD hypothesis would argue that my ilk is cash-poor because of our consumption habits [some may say consumption obsession]. Like most of Sim Sim Sima's arguments I'm always a bit wary at first, so I felt like it was time for further examination.

What are the consumption habits of your average Faux Hillary? Well... let's take a look see on the recent purchases from peple in my social circle: one friend borrowed her mother's credit card to pay for her March-break vacation, she was worried about maxing out her own; while another admitted over dinner that he had spent $800 at the dentist and asked his parents to foot the bill. Beloved Brynnah, down in NYC, told me that she didn't even have enough money to mail me the glasses I left in her apartment as it had been a tight month. But hey - we had shared steak and a bottle of wine at a fancy restaurant a couple of weeks earlier. And of course she does have two pairs of Coach shoes. Another friend, whom I ran into at a birthday brunch (at the Four Seasons, natch), had come to the realization that he was a poor law student, albeit - when I commented on his fetching sweater - he was a poor law student in a newly purchased merino wool v-neck from Club Monaco. To quote Rihanna - Please Don't Stop the Music/ or in this case, Please Don't Stop the Spending.

Upon flying back from New York City a couple of weekends ago and receiving a Visa bill that was way out of my league an angry El Huerd looked at me and said, "How can you complain? Who flits in and out of New York City; what are you rich?" He was right of course - and it's the same expression I used on the other Caitlin, often my partner in crimes against Visa, who recounted to me how she spent a lovely Sunday morning making her boyfriend a champagne breakfast, Veuve and freshly squeezed oj from Pusaterri's. "What are you rich?" I asked her incredulously.

And as I write this in my apartment, with the smell of tulips wafting over my desk, a part of me wonders, did I really have to spend $6.99 on flowers? Especially considering I pulled a Sheryl Crow in the morning and scraped the mould off of my bread to make a peanut butter and jam sandwich; as I call the poverty diet. Please. I know hardship.

So are my friends, in our cashmere blend coats, really that broke? Well - compared to the lovely yout's I met in Scarborough, who are given a cost of living allowance of about $2.10 a day, I'd say not quite. But poverty is a relative term isn't it?

Sim Sim Sima in her infinite wisdom is quite once again right - our generation not only loves its toys - but we expect them. Ipod's come and go, merino wool v-necks get stretched out, and lines of credit get extended with a quick stop over in Holt Renfrew's Now or Never Sale. When my father's financial adviser came over to my apartment to sell me some RRSP's he asked if I had any savings, I almost chocked on my proverbial latte. Savings? Does J. Crew cashmere count?

So what's the answer for all of us who are on the precipice of debt? I have no answers, but mom is always available at SimSimSima@gmail.com, but since she's too cheap for wireless - she doesn't know how to use GChat. In the interim, of course, it's become blatantly obvious that for those of us who are in our twenties, freshly starting our careers, our burgeoning salaries have not kept up with our spending habits and expectations. File this mystery as another one of my generations: Great Expectations.

FYI - Lululemon stock went up 20% yesterday on the TSX. Coincidence? Or not?


Anonymous said...

I in the end footed my own dental bill. Jerk.

Anonymous said...

A Friday Haiku For You:

Men in glass houses
throw stones at their peril:
How thin your walls!

FauxHillary said...

That isn't proper haiku format...