‘I Bring Down a Place’
“I’ve never worked a day in my life. If I did it would probably ruin my career” — Rene Ricard, 1978
I work every day. Even the days I don’t need to work. If I didn’t, I’d probably see someone else working and feel terrible guilt. My career is fueled by desperate status seeking and existential dread, plus a heaping dose of financial insecurity. Did I mention I’m in massive debt?
I know someone who doesn’t work. He’s a nice enough fellow, but it’s hard for us to connect because I’m always working and he isn’t. Even if we did find the time to catch up, I’m positive we’d have nothing to talk about. After all, I went to college and he wears Old Navy. I didn’t mean to go to college. By that I mean it wasn’t my intention. It just seemed like “the thing” to do at the time. Once I got to college I was drawn to a myriad of activities that I’ve successfully carried over into adult life: binge drinking, casual sex, left-wing orthodoxy, and a half-hearted belief in self-improvement.
My unemployed friend never went to college, and as such doesn’t know these things. For that I feel truly sorry for him.
How do I live? In a constant state of belief that it has to get better eventually. This can be awkward when people ask me where I see myself in 5 years, because I haven’t a clue. Nor do I know what I’d do tomorrow if I could wake up and do anything. This topic of conversation sobers up the crowd at dinner parties, especially when I’m among others who also have careers (because they don’t know either). But at least none of them ask to look at the check before handing over their credit card.
How much money I need to live is entirely beside the point. What matters is I can purchase the approval of those whose affection I crave. That I can feel superior to those whose income is less than mine. And that I can feel as if I’m winning at a game that was already stacked in my favor. When I stray from the serious business of my life, these thoughts return me to my working bench.
Mind you, I do have some fun quirks. For instance, some mornings I wake up in a sheer state of panic at the thought of serving another day in this capitalist hellscape. Those days usually conclude at 4AM when my overly caffeinated body finally shuts down mid-sentence and I collapse onto my keyboard. I wake up 3 hours later to find I’ve typed 1,200 pages of the letter “J” and then repeat the process all over again.
I live for the weekend. On Fridays and Saturday nights I’m at my best—being thrown out of every reputable establishment for intoxication and generally ugly behavior. There are some places where my face is on a list and security knows not to let me in. In this I take pride. I know how to bring down a place.
When I was a child I was told I’d either end up a success or a bum. Somehow, I think I’ve managed to be both.
A salary is a problem. A business will give you one but not tell you how to use it. I didn’t need a pied-a-terre and Ferragamo loafers, but I also didn’t not need them. And once you have them, how could you ever not have them? I can’t go backwards in lifestyle, which is why I’m hoping to marry rich. It might be dishonest to my significant other, but it’s the most honest thing I could do for myself. The rich need not worry about bear markets or performance reviews. Most don’t even have need for a career.
Of course, I’d rather be rich myself, and it’s more than a minor annoyance it hasn’t occurred yet. Rest assured whence I join the monied ranks, my career along with all of its effects will be placed in a trash compactor and never seen or heard from again.
If I were to be remembered at all, I hope you’d do it as such: Place my remains in an oil drum alongside flammable materials. Light me on fire and then roll me down the ramp from the top of the Guggenhiem so I can see the pretty pictures on my way down.