Monday, October 17, 2011

"Fuck You" Money

I've always been surprisngly responsible about money.

I always tried to have some savings on hand so that I could get out of whatever hopeless predicament English teaching (or my drunkeness, or cruel fate, or whatever) left me in.

'FUCK YOU' money!

I first heard the term "fuck you money" in this film, Burt Reynolds' long-forgotten 1986 HEAT (not to be confused with the Pacino / DeNiro / Michael Mann classic from 1995.)

In this clip, Burt Reynold's character, a washed-up bodyguard in Vegas, finally wins the $100,000 he'd been dreaming of to run away to Italy; he'd figured on spending $20,000 per year for the next five years.

Discussing it with a friend afterwards, however, he realizes it's not enough -- during the last three years he'd never be able to relax as the money ran out. He decides to try to win $1,000,000 -- $20,000 per year for the rest of his life -- and of course (spoiler) loses it all.

How much is 'Fuck You Money' for an English teacher?

I rolled up in Thailand in the 90's, when I was 26, and had about $1000 to my name; after a year there, I decided I needed more of a cushion to better enable me to enjoy my feckless lifestyle. So I went to Korea in 1996, to save some money.

I decided I needed $10,000.

That was enough money, at that time, to last me a year in places I liked, like Thailand or Prague. Living extra cheaply, maybe even two years. I stayed in Korea about 9 months, until I had $9,980 -- at that time you could change a maximum of $10,000 per year from won -- and then I got on the next plane out with no regrets.

The US inflation calculator tells me that $10,000 in 1996 is about $14,000 in 2011; but in fact the cost of living in "the third world" has gone up at least 3 or 4 times what it was in 1996, so it's not such a straightforward calculation. ($100,000 in 1986 dollars is more like $200,000 in 2011 dollars.)

Is there anyplace in the WORLD where you can still live comfortably on $1000 a month? Let me know. I think you could probably still manage it in Thailand and maybe in China, but anyplace in E. Europe would be a tight fit. Mainly due to the cost of apartment rent.

Nowadays, $10,000 would definitely get you safely out of one country and established in the next; but beyond that, you could blow through all of that easily in a few months, especially if you had to buy plane tickets and pay an apartment deposit.

So what's "fuck you money" now?

I see that it's a pit you can fall into, actually, trying to decide that.

There are plenty of guys who've been here in the Middle East for eight or ten years, and have $500,000 or even closer to $1,000,000 and they continue to insist how much they hate it here and (once again) will stay for "only one more year" before they go somewhere else.

Obviously if you have a family, calculating "enough money" becomes very difficult. As you get older of course there are the various nebulous worries of retirement and health care costs.

But English teachers don't usually have the typical money worries; no mortgages, car payments, not much of that. Student loans? Anybody I know who has them seems to have pretty much decided they're simply not going to pay them.

And I got to thinking about the movie OFFICE SPACE, where the guy says that if he had a million dollars, he'd do absolutely nothing, and another character says, "You don't need a million dollars to do nothing, man, my cousin's flat broke and he don't do shit."

So I think that's what it boils down to -- the more money you think you need, to tell your boss to fuck off, the less likely you'll ever do it.

(I could only find THIS BIZARRE ANIMATION featuring that dialogue from OFFICE SPACE on YouTube; anybody finds the real thing, we'll be waiting.)

My original plan, like Burt Reynolds in HEAT there, was to save six figures. I'm sticking with that -- six figures and go. I don't even particularly want to tell my boss to fuck off, they treat me pretty well. . .

Monday, October 03, 2011

Meeting Girls

An old cartoon, I think this was like the second or third one I made with the Paintbrush program, back in 2003.
I was reminded of this recently hearing a story about a colleague who lost his wallet (and passport) while he was over in Bahrain, after he couldn't think of any tactful way to tell the cops and administration that a "female guest" in his room had probably taken it.

I heard it plenty of times in Thailand, of course; guys often claimed to have been "drugged" but in point of fact, they were probably just really fucked up drunk and passed out.

I heard it a couple of times in Russia -- Uncle Cool lost a computer and phone and some money to a midnight visitor once, and Crazy Bob's apartment got robbed -- although I think he didn't have much to steal -- after a female visitor stuck gum in his lock. (At least, that was the cops' theory.)

But not only did I know victims, I knew a PERPETRATOR -- I actually knew a girl who went to jail for 2 years for doing it.

This was back in 2003 when we were hanging out at the "gay" bar -- which had quickly, and strangely, become a hangout for English teachers and African students as well.

She was one of many demented bisexuals I knew at that time, and regrettably she probably wasn't even the most dangerous. (That is another story, as they say.)

Anyway, this girl was remarkably colorful even by Russia 2003 standards -- I remember one time sitting outside the gay bar with her -- she was wearing black satin pants, red 6 inch stiletto heels, a tight red top with her huge breasts pushed up under her chin, and a choker neck-band thing with the word SEX written on it in fake diamonds.

A girl in a plain white dress walked by and my bisexual friend shook her head -- "That girl has no style," she said dismissively.

(Now -- it occurs to me -- you might see people like Lady Gaga dressing all fucked up like that in some kind of retro-ironic glam thing -- there was not a goddam bit of irony about Russia back in those days, though, and I think that's a big reason I liked it.)

She divided her time between fucking rich guys for profit and hanging out at the gay bar fucking girls and metrosexual boys. She and some of her dyke friends would occasionally rob the guys she slept with.

(I never managed to have sex with her -- not so much out of fear as that she was always losing phones or never had any money on them, or would forget about dates or just not show up. Her crew of dykes and metrosexuals guarded her pretty jealously, also. I once saw her touch her tongue to the tip of her nose, I suppose that might have had something to do with their high regard for her.)

The "gay bar" kind of burned out in 2005 and we stopped going there, and I didn't see her again until I ran into here at another degenerate bar in 2007 -- and she revealed she'd just spent two years in jail for robbery.  (She looked exactly the same -- perhaps even healthier than before.)

We danced the night away, but I tactfully didn't ask her for any details. Didn't manage to have sex with her then either, before her metrosexual and dyke friends dragged her away.

Anyway, next time you think about the hordes of sex tourists, "sexpats", pickup artists and douchebag "new rich" flooding Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, and South America to fornicate with the locals -- think with a smile of all the wallets, phones and passports that disappear while their pants are down.