Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dear Diary: Old People Are Weird About Money

Dear Diary,

Why are old people so weird about money? Not spending or saving it, but physical bills and coins. They have an unhealthy preoccupation with, if given the choice, keeping the currency in the best physical condition and spending that with the most wear and tear. When making a purchase with a full wallet that is always the main concern.

You might think I'm unfairly stereotyping. But I have years of retail experience to back up this claim. I've seen an elderly woman, who owed $4.85, rifle past fives and tens, explaining that, "I'm sure I have a ratty twenty in here. I'll give that to you."  I marked each note she thumbed past mentally, thinking to myself, "give me that one give me that one give me that one give me that one."
I questioned whether this pursuit was the best use of both of our time. It's annoying enough as a cashier to have someone ruin your drawer by breaking a large bill, but to do it for a reason as trivial as the aesthetic appeal of that large bill is especially galling. The twenty she gave me wasn't really even damaged. It was simply wrinkled, weathered and worn from age. Like the woman's own face. Was it's presence in her wallet an affront to the other crisp bills? Does it's appearance remind her that she herself is not what she once was?

A man once dug into his pocket twice in search of a discolored, barely recognizable nickel even though he'd snagged a clean one on the first attempt. Who are these people trying to impress? Do they think Lucius Malfoy is going to see them at the muggle bookstore and accuse them of being a Weasley?

Tatty Dollars?

Even if they are able to curate a crisp and shiny stack of cash it won't last long. The money in our wallets is inherently transient. It's there for us to get rid of. Will they tell their friend or spouse, "You couldn't tell by looking now, but before I went to the dry cleaners my cash was beautiful. It looked like I'd ironed it. Oh, you should have seen it." 

Keep in mind I'm not talking about a five with a rip down the middle. Obviously if you have a bill with legitimate damage then you spend that first. You don't want to be the person who finally tears Abraham asunder. Then you've got two halves of a bill. And sure, you can go to a bank to get a new one, but that's a hassle. The only time I go to the bank is when the bank makes me go for some transaction or bit of business I can't do online or over the phone. It's always a special trip. I'm never near my bank when it's convenient. The only people who still go to the bank are old people. So really, they should be forced to keep the disintegrated bills and muck encrusted coins.

I'm sorry, Ethel, but you know the deal. You go the bank every week anyway because of your distrust of direct deposit and inability to use online account transfers. While you're there just swap out the grungy cash. Now, Ethel, I know you think all of these flimsy bills have been on strippers' behinds and you're probably right, but this is your generations penance for ruing social security by screwing too much after the war. Eisenhower did not tell you to screw like bunnies.

These people are old and need to live with more urgency. Younger people can reasonably expect to be alive for many more decades. It might not play out that way, but the odds are good. But these people are in crunch time. How many minutes a day are you willing to sacrifice to cling to nice looking money? It's all worth the same. Grab some and move on with your day. Don't you have a dying light to rage against?



Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sport Not a Sport: Golf

It's St. Patrick's Day! The the Americanized version of Ireland's weak-ass version of Germany's far superior Oktoberfest. Have you ever noticed how come September the beer aisle is littered with Oktoberfest seasonal beers, but the only beer specific to St. Paddy's day is Bud Light dyed green, which will be served throughout the NCAA tournament. You never realized how long beer sits around at a bar until they dye it green for one specific week and they're still serving it month later. I've ordered a beer in April and been served a green one. It's shocking.

Anywho. In honor of this most Irish of days I decided to knock back a few ales and write about golf, a sport I assume originated in Ireland.

Nope. Just Bing-ed it. Scotland. However, I watched Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: Why Is This A Trilogy, Can I Stream the Weird Cartoon Version I Used to Love last night, and according to Gandalf it was created in Middle Earth by Bilbo's ancestor.

Golf, a game which the origins of are highly contested, is a game played on courses of well landscaped forest clearings. The quality of the game is directly related to the property value of the particular course in use. This fact is part of the reason golf is seen as a sport of the elite. Another reason is cost. Golf is stupid expensive. Here is an Amazon listing for a used driver which you can purchase for $29. That is one club. You will be needing 8 to 11 more clubs to play golf. You can buy an entire set of clubs at once. Sometimes buying in bulk can lower costs. Let's see what happens when I search for "affordable golf club set."


I specifically used the word "affordable." This is crazy.

More digging uncovers a used set on Amazon for $160. So that's good. You can buy those and still be able to pay your electric bill this month. Now you just need to buy some balls, special shoes and then pay to go play a game.

Yes, unlike in basketball, a sport whose sportiness is beyond reproach, the old men wearing double knee braces on the golf course don't take kindly to you standing off to the side and yelling "Next!" to stake your claim. Golf requires you to call ahead and arrange a time where you can play. Golf a sport for gentlemen. White gentlemen.

Just because golf is a game with daunting start-up costs and classist/sexist history that doesn't prove whether or not it's a sport. But it doesn't bode well. One of the great things about sports is that they act as an equalizing and unifying activity. Merit is determined on the field of play. If not everyone can afford to get onto that field of play then it doesn't seem very sporting.
(Note to self: Pitch movie to Disney about inner-city golf team)

Let's get into the nitty gritty of golf to figure out if it is a sport or not a sport. It has objective scoring. Every time you swing that counts as a point. Stroke? Whatever. You accumulate strokes until the ball goes into the cup. The person with the most points...what? Least points? YOU'RE ON THIN ICE ALREADY, GOLF! You accumulate strokes until you get the ball into all of the cup. "Cup" refers to the hole you are trying to hit your ball into. "Hole" refers to the stretch of course you are currently playing. From the tee to the cup is the hole. God you're stupid, golf. Still, objective scoring is involved. Penalties are given for prescribed reasons. There are no judges. If someone starts talking trash, you can always respond by saying "Scoreboard."

Golf is also physically taxing (so I'm told) which seems to be a qualifying aspect of sports. But the reason it's physically taxing is because you're walking around for 4 hours carrying a bag of metal sticks. Making a connecting flight in Charlotte is physically taxing when you have to haul your carry-ons from one gate to another. That doesn't mean ESPN2 should devote any airtime to it. And golf gives you the option of using a go kart if you get too winded. I'm sure John Kruk would have loved the option to hop into car instead of legging out a double when he hit one into the gap. To be fair, I don't think professional golf events allow the use of golf carts. I can't be sure because I've never watched one, because that would be the most boring thing in the world.

Golf also does not allow defense. You don't get to effect the way an opponent plays or what they do. It is played by taking turns. Players don't even take turns on the same hole consecutively. At pro events some players start on the first hole, some in the middle of the course, and some at the end. You could be winning when you finish the course and end up losing. How can something be a sport if the competitors aren't competing at the same time? I could play a course on Monday and my buddy could play it on Tuesday and then we compare scores to see how won. That's not a sport, that's a high score board. Golf is just an outdoor, extreme version of skeeball. But less entertaining to watch than skeeball.

GOLF: Not a sport.