I am watching my lover count $7,800 worth of $100 dollar bills. Then he moves into $5000 worth of twenties. I double count them for him, like a good gangstabitch. In these days of credit and debit, of chips and points – I must admit I’ve never seen that much cold hard green cash in one place. Who carries that much cash anymore? Bankers and criminals, and my criminal is deftly flipping through bills, using the “organic broccoli” printed rubber bands I gave him to sort his stacks. I note that one stack smells like cigarette smoke and he smiles. That’s the stack he got for the weed he sells at the bar and grill, to the old-timers and moonshiners in the hills. Here’s the stack from the movie star’s kids, and here’s the stack from the desert rats.
The surprise of it all, the sea of green, the actual flow of the river of money that doesn’t belong to my lover or to me, but there it is… piles and piles of smelly money. The illicit nature of drug money is so stereotypical – we’d just finished watching an episode of Weeds with the same scenes and the same themes – I would expect it not to affect me, but it does. It’s inherently erotic, it can’t not affect me, even after dozens of the same moments. Money = status and status is hot. As I am thinking of how sexy he is, appropriately there is my lover, rolling thick wads of cash up into his boxers, placing those tight green bundles in the crotch of his undies one by one – and stuffing them in his duffel bag full of laundry.
The truly experienced with cash handling instantly hide their earnings from their own view. They sew their money into throw pillows or weld them into fireproof containers. They pay taxes and have a cash business as a cover. Not my lover. My lover doesn’t give a fuck.
After he’s gone I feel dirty, the stench of money is on my hands and I pause to think of all the hands that have been on that money and about how swiping a credit card gives fewer opportunities to microbial predators, then wash my hands with tea tree oil soap. I return to my life of credit, of online transfers and check payments. Everything legitimate, taxed, tracked and recorded. I do this because my parents demanded it of me, this is what it means to be grown up in my family. How unsexy.
Later when my lover needs a loan and can only get it through his father I see why my parents unburdened themselves by teaching me the rules of self-sufficiency in a debit/credit culture. All those dolla billz become less sexy after he needs to run to daddy because he ain’t got no credit – no tax history – no nothing at 33. My lover is locked in – either drum up more dolla billz right quick or run to daddy. His choices diminish. Credit is like diet – it’s a long term investment. You do the right things in the short term to protect it long term, despite those things being uncomfortable. You protect the golden goose instead of hoarding the golden eggs. It teaches you self-discipline… or bankruptcy.
Cash teaches different lessons. Wampum lessons of pleasure and indulging, lessons of splurging and tipping, of tolls and black markets and the slow drip, drip of spending and saving without fee or tariff. Though I wouldn’t want to live in these lessons, there’s no doubt about it: they are a more attractive set. I sure do like to visit the cash world. I never refuse to help count the dirty drug money. I can't help myself from double counting it over his shoulder, even when he doesn't ask. I have the hots for hundred dollar bills.