Friday, April 11, 2003

vignette: denny

The thing I remember the most about Denny was the way he reacted when he was in need.

When he suddenly had to pay for unexpected bills and such, instead of saving up what he had and thinking about how to pay for everthing, he would withdraw everything in his bank account and spend it.

"It will be zero anyway," he explained to me once. "It doesn't matter if I have one peso or a thousand, it will all be spent anyway."

"But at least you have some money to start with, to help pay for your expenses," I reasoned.

"No, no. To my mind, it's all gone, parang bula, so what's the point?"

He'd go and buy food or cigarettes or a book he'd never read. In the meantime, the burden of stress would invariably pass on to my shoulders.

"But I didn't ask you to get worried," he told me.

"I know, but how will you pay for everything?"

"I don't know yet," he said with a sad smile. "But I will."

"But how?"

"When I have nothing, my mind works better."

And somehow it was so. A few days before the payment deadlines for his rent or utilities, he would find a way to make money, find a racket or a create an opportunity. He'd emcee at a party, help someone move house, whip up a website, sell an article or broker a deal for a small commission.

"If you can do all of these things anyway, why don't you do it regularly to help your cash flow?" I asked him.

"Because then it would be work. It would consume me, worry me, eat my time, my life, my lifetime."

I could never understand his philosophy, it just disagreed with the ordered and structured part of me that watched over my balance sheets and itemized every expense. But Denny continued to deal with life on his own terms, and in the process found happiness with his wife of twelve years and their two little boys.

Deep in my soul I was outraged at his relative success. He had a home, a car and his kids went to good schools.

It went against the grain of what I was taught, what I believed in, how the world is. How can life reward such a bohemian existence?

It shouldn't.

It musn't.

It can't.

Last year, I decided to push him to the very edge and see how his philosophy of relegating need to the bottom of totem pole of priorities would protect him.

I took his wife.



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