I was moaning and groaning about money and how I didn’t have any and how unfair it was.
“Go see that young fellow David Dollhouse. He’s rich as Croesus. Maybe he’ll share,” my mom said.
I had first met David Dollhouse (of the Rhode Island Dollhouses) out in the woods. Money’s no good in the woods. Me and David were equals in the woods and we got along fine, because I was always careful to recognize his special interest. David believed (and still believes) that every insect used to be a human being.
He’s a member of the 1%, or even the 0.1% or 0.01%. He lives in a room in a Motel 6 on the outskirts – the outer outskirts – of Curtoe, Oklahoma. He spends most of his time out in the fields behind his room.
“See that ant?” he would say to me. “That ant was a Jew. See him scurry around like that? It’s pathetic.”
He told me I could share his room. He gave me a credit card and told me to use it for anything I needed in Curtoe. The first time I went into town, I had to walk. I checked the credit limit on the card at the local bank. There was no limit. I drove back to the motel in a spanking new used Honda Civic that I bought outright from a lot in town. It had a good AM/FM radio and new retreads.
“I want to introduce you to a snake,” David said to me. “She used to be my piano teacher – the one who charged a lot and put her hand in my fly to bribe me into practicing Hanon, which I hated. So now she’s a snake.”
“Snakes aren’t bugs,” I said.
“Snakes are bugs,” he said. “You have a lot to learn, Grasshopper. There are people who are bugs.”
“Confusing,” I said.
“This snake tried to crawl into my fly. That’s how I know it’s Mrs. O’Dowd. Never trust an Irish piano teacher.”
The next time I was in town, I bought a Boeing 777. They told me that it was impossible to ride it back to the motel. It turns out, no matter how rich you are, there are some things you can’t buy.
“You can’t buy happiness,” said Mrs. Smith, who ran the motel, but she seemed pretty happy. Once David had moved in, she closed all the other rooms. She doubled the cleaning staff, though, mostly family members, all for David’s room. He tipped with his credit card. The maids put bugs in his bed.
I helped David organized a bug parade on Veteran’s Day. Then I went into town to test Mrs. Smith’s theory. First, I needed to be unhappy, so I went into the hardware store and hit my thumb with a hammer. It hurt like the dickins. I was unhappy. I complained to Mr. Jones, the owner. He told me that I had only myself to blame.
“Oh, yeah?” I said, and I bought the store, lock, stock, and barrel on the spot. Mr. Jones and his clerks and bookkeeper all left and the next thing I knew, customers were pestering me to find items and check them out at the register, wanting to return purchases, wanting gift wrap, and me with a sore thumb. A sore right thumb. I didn’t have the sense to hit my left one instead. So Mrs. Smith proved right. Money could not buy happiness.
My idyll with the rich came to an abrupt end when David caught me with a bucket of KFC. He claimed that chickens were bugs and I was in fact a cannibal, and I was out on my ear. My new Civic pooped out before I reached the state line and when I tried to get it fixed, my credit card had expired.