#2. "The Best Hobbies Don't Cost a Thing!"
In that inspirational email forward about the investment banker and the Mexican fisherman, they made sure to portray the fisherman as playing the guitar in his spare time. In Titanic, when Rose leaves the stuffy rich people (quietly sipping their brandy and smoking their cigars) she goes below deck to find the poor passengers rocking out with their crude instruments:
Likewise, Phoebe in Friends was the poorest of the group (and was homeless in the past) but that's OK, because she had her guitar to keep her sane. The message is the same every time, of course: It doesn't matter how poor you are, nothing is stopping you from singing a song or writing a poem or sculpting some meaningful shit out of clay.
But I've Been Poor, and ...
First of all, there's the time issue. I write for a living now, obviously, but when I was trying to do it as a hobby? Yeah, ask me how much I felt like writing after 12 hours of work/commute and then all the other time spent doing home shit after that (eat, shower, tend to the kids, etc). Unless you wanted an article on "6 Ways I'd Like to Fucking Punch All the Truck Drivers in the Cock," all you'd get out of me is some low moans about my aching back while I stared sleepily at some Internet boobs. Creativity takes energy. Energy that a waitress or roofer or warehouse worker isn't going to have at the end of the day.
"Man, I can't wait to get home and do more shit."
And that's assuming that your hobby is the sort that doesn't require supplies. My fiancee loves to paint, but when we were living in that funk, paint and canvas were luxuries that we could only justify as a birthday gift. Most people don't make their own paint by extracting pigment from berries and squids, and a nice set of oil paint will run you several hundred dollars.
But Add in Some Money ...
I've written more in the last six months than in the entire 36 previous years of my life. Why? Because I got a fucking paycheck for doing it. Not because creativity requires money, but because time costs money -- the paycheck allowed me to drop the non-writing work so I would actually have time and energy to put into the writing.
"What are 182 other words for 'cock'?"
And even though you think of writing as one of those free hobbies, it's sure as fuck not if you want people to actually read it. That requires an Internet connection and Web hosting, both of which were at the bottom of the priority list when it came time to decide what utility we were going to get turned off this month. You can talk about how money is a bad motivation for creativity and how commercialism ruins art, but all I know is now I don't have to choose between expressing myself and what flavor of Ramen Noodles I'll be serving for every meal this week.
#1. "Money Can't Buy Love!"
In Titanic, the hero was poor, the villain was rich and whenever there are two dudes competing for a woman, we're supposed to be rooting for the poor guy (also see: Dirty Dancing, Some Kind of Wonderful, Pretty in Pink and a shitload of others). The message is always the same: When it comes to love, money doesn't matter. Right, Bon Jovi?
But I've Been Poor, and ...
Let's start with the obvious: The less you're able to take care of yourself, the harder it is to find someone who will accept you into their lives, romantically. I'm not talking about gold diggers or materialistic assholes here, either -- I'm talking about the common sense that scares us away from somebody in a constant state of financial insecurity. Being poor obviously doesn't take you out of the running, but it does make it harder, as you're removing a part of that equation and relying on the rest of you to reel them in. Looks, personality, charisma, etc. Let's face it, you can't pay for dinner with a sweet crotch bulge.
But then you just have the practical matter that if your lover doesn't live in the same town as you, it fucking costs money to get close enough to them to touch their boobs. This comes up all the time now in the Internet age -- like millions of couples, my fiance and I met online and I found out she lived a few states away.
And also, she is a polar bear.
Shit, there was a time in my life when I couldn't even have afforded the webcam or Internet connection to do video chat with her. Bus and train rides are a couple hundred bucks over that distance, on top of sucking days out of your work schedule, and don't even mention flying -- when you're poor, you might as well be suggesting I just buy a helicopter.
But Add in Some Money ...
... and you can simply pay a whore.
Or, in my case, when my fiancee and I decided to live together, it meant her coming to a state where I was the only person she knew. That meant she had no job, which in turn meant I had to support both of us until she got one. That quite simply wouldn't have been possible before we started climbing out of the poverty dungeon.
Careful. Before we left, we shit all over the place.
No, money can't buy you the actual state of being in love. But a lack of money can most certainly fucking prevent it. It can keep you physically separated, and the unfortunate truth is that the overwhelming majority of long distance relationships don't last terribly long, for obvious reasons. So forget the romantic movies, forget the love songs about how no obstacle can stand between us. Bringing us to the same physical location required a shitload of cash.
I understand why those songs and movie plots exist. They're written by people with money to remind other people with money that money can't solve 100 percent of their problems. But they have nothing to say to people like us. Because even if you're a deep, thoughtful soul who appreciates all of the simple pleasures in life, money still fucking matters.
For more Cheese, check out 5 Internet Life Lessons Parents Need to Start Teaching Kids and 5 Reasons You Don't Miss Your 20s When They're Over.