A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
When I was a child, I thought that most of my friends were just a little bit higher up on the scrotum pole than I was. I didn’t have low self-esteem or anything. First of all, that’s a modern affectation, and secondly, I was a very confident kid. It was just that they always seemed to have cool stuff going on while I was permanently chained to ordinary. For example, my buddy Wilfred and I both had bikes, but he also had another one that was way better than mine. It was Toronto Maple Leaf’s blue and white (just like in the Sears catalogue) but it also had a basket so he could get a job delivering groceries and such when he got older. Plus, it was a CCM (just like in the Sears catalogue) — the Holy Grail of two-wheeled transportation in our neighbourhood. Unfortunately, Wilfred’s parents made him keep it at his grandmother’s house, so I never actually got to see this magnificent conveyance — but I certainly believed it was there. There were other stories, too: Dorothy Becker’s cousin had met The Beatles, Kelvin’s uncle was going to give him his entire collection of winning marbles from the time when he was World Champion, and Doug Sanders’ dad had won the war — when he secretly shot Hilter.* Yes, I was a naive youth and even today, I’m embarrassed by the number of years it took me to realize that Wilfred’s extra bike only existed in the pages of the Sears catalogue. However, I bear no animosity to the Wilfreds of the world. This is just what people do They have a burning need to look good, and sometimes they’re willing to bend reality into a circus of contortions to get there.
Think about it!
Even though used car salesman has become synonymous with shyster, when was the last time anybody didn’t get a great deal on a used car? I’ll tell you when. My 1963 Triumph Spitfire — $300.00 to buy it, $1600.00 in estimated repairs and 85 bucks to tow it away. However, since the day I waved that piece of junk goodbye, I haven’t heard of one person on this planet who didn’t get a totally smokin’ deal, buying somebody else’s automotive problems. Not one! In fact, I’m surprised, given that every used car in the last 40 years was sold at cost or below, that there are any used car dealerships left in the world.
It’s the same with Vegas. I don’t know anyone, or know anyone who knows anyone who lost money in Las Vegas. Ask anyone who has just returned from the Seed of Greed in America, and they will tell you either: a) “I came out about even” or b) “I won enough to pay for the trip.” Nobody says, “Holy crap! That place is so totally cool we spent way more money than we thought we were going to … but it was worth it.” Oddly enough, people will sometimes say that about Paris, London, New York or San Francisco — but never Vegas. Nope! The first thing out of their mouth is how much money they didn’t lose. Even though everybody knows, in the end, the house always wins, and the boys running the casinos didn’t build them so we could all take our money home with us.
And it goes on and on — mortgage rates, computer prices, cell phone plans, extended warranties, etc., etc., etc. There’s no end to the wonderful stuff that always seems to happen — to other people. I’m not a cynic, but … these days, when I hear someone puttin’ on the brag about something that seems too good to be true, I usually figure it is. Thanks, Wilfred!
*Just to clarify, I didn’t spend my childhood surrounded by a pack of pathological liars. These stories (and a select few others) happened in three different locations over the better part of 18 years.