Calling all Freudians: if you can’t find the Oedipal Complex within this week’s column, it’s time to find a new career.
When my wife’s favorite cousin (I don’t know if she is her favorite but that will start family tension. If I have to be miserable, so does everyone else.) asked during her recent BBQ, “Will we be in next week’s article?” I mulled over the possibilities and found my muse in Franklin Lakes, NJ.
To give a proper sense of setting, when we arrived at their home my daughter asked, “Does a princess live here?” The other said, “Why do they have two swimming pools?” One was the pool….the other was their private lake. Private Lake? I don’t even have a private toilet!
The interior of their Gothic manor has a whimsical aesthetic: King Arthur meets Alice in Wonderland. The aesthetic of my hovel is Ralph Kramden meets Sanford and Sons.
My girls spent the day frolicking in the pool (At 3, frolicking is cute. At 16 I lock them in their room). They also explored the multi-tiered patio. (Each tier could double as a NASA launch pad).
I’m not sure what he does for a living, but I’m fairly confident he isn’t a comedian or writer. Did I mention he is only thirty-something? And it pains me to say they are really nice. No snobbery, no pretense and we only had to genuflect once upon arrival.
As I write this, my angels are playing in our $15.99 inflatable pool next to our “patio.” (A handful of bricks pushed together over a patch of weeds).
I want to be clear: I don’t begrudge people their wealth. Money or the lack of doesn’t make a good or bad parent nor does it make a child feel loved or unloved.
I am comfortable with the choices I made in my life. I made a very good living while following a dream and I didn’t squander my money…unless you consider hookers and drugs squandering.
But here is my point. When couples have children early on, their priorities naturally shift.
Every decision made is with their children in mind. Earning and saving is about their children’s lives.
For many years, I was able to take career risks and do certain things because any negative consequence only affected me. Now that I am finally a parent, I want to give my perfect daughters everything. But at fifty-two, my earning potential is a thing of the past. Unless I hit the lottery or one of you wants to publish my novel, there ain’t no windfall coming down the pike.
Yes…they are healthy and get tons of love, affection, kindness and support in a safe and nurturing environment. But I have no idea how we will afford college. I can’t imagine buying them cars or bailing them out of jail or paying for a really good rehab. What kind of inheritance will I leave? “To Ren, I bequeath my entire collection of videotaped performances of my comedy. To Stimpy, I leave my unpublished manuscript.”
I must end here. I have an appointment to donate several of my organs so I can afford summer camp for the girls…or maybe I can send them both to Franklin Lakes for the summer…to my wife’s favorite cousin.