Money goes not to the brilliant or the aggressive but to those who welcome it.
by Bill Mehlman
Emotional/psychological/cognitive problems being what they are, which is to say resistant to precise definition and highly mutable, the temptation exists, once one has been diagnosed with one or more, to attribute all of one's difficulties to those accused malfunctions. Like so many temptations, this one often leads to unconstructive, if not actually ruinous, behavior.
In my case, one of the sorriest aspects of my connection to the outside world is my inability to handle money. This can easily be divided into five clear areas in which I had problems:
While these might not appear to be subjects whose difficulty rivals that of understanding string theory, my inability to master them has been one of the primary founts of misery in my life. I have no clue about (a), as the record shows. This is partly the result of (b). The resultant anxiety and inability to keep moving forward toward solvency, if not prosperity, leads to (c) and (d), which leaves us looking wistfully at (e).
Shame about money is a curious thing. I recall a time when my father made an unusually large profit on a job, and somehow wound up owning a piece of a commercial laundry as a result. I was walking along with another kid (not a good friend, but someone, whose name I still know, who I thought was kind of cool. Probably the DA/flattop haircut). We must have been around ten, and for some reason I mentioned that my father now owned a second business. The most vivid part of this reverie is that I was at great pains to explain to him that even so, we weren't "rich." Of course, we weren't even close to rich, or prosperous. We were middle-class folks who owned a house in a middle-class suburb, and a car and once in a while a little motor boat.
I can't conjure up what it was that made me so anxious not to be considered "rich." Most likely, I saw "rich" as being closely affiliated with different. Being a skinny, bespectacled kid and one of the few Jews in my part of town, I was already different, and none too happy about it. This feeling never went away. It's what propelled me into the arms of alcohol and nicotine. Cool guys drank and smoked, preferably to excess.
It's not easy to make money, money in large quantities, if you feel that by doing so you're excluding yourself from the guys who even though they only had a couple of bucks, still looked down on me. Or so I thought. And then, later, in college, I tried to adopt the role of the hoods in my town vis-a-vis the preppies and the overachievers. That didn't work so well either. Many of the preppies were far more degenerate than I could hope to be and the "real students" were busy trying to get into Harvard Law, so that they had neither the time nor the inclination to be impressed or intimidated.
When I started to write this, I knew I'd lose my bearings and drift away from the issue of money. But there you go. Money goes not to the brilliant or the aggressive but to those who welcome it, secure in their belief that they have a friend in Mammon.
To me, Mammon was a big kid with a grandfather from Naples, who was about to steal my Schwinn.