In a phone conversation with a friend last night, she revealed that her grandson is in the habit of leaving currency he received for Christmas (and too much of it) on top of his bureau – even leaving some on the floor of his room as if it were discarded pieces of paper. I find this curious as I know his father to be cheap while grandma is actually a total spendthrift. Apparently at least in this case, nurture has trumped nature. The example his easy-come easy-go grandparent has displayed is what’s stuck.
In my case, I was raised by a parent who simply could never live within her means. My father used to derisively refer to mom (after the divorce) as “piss elegant.” (How ugly is that?) Her blue-collar caretaker (at the end of her life) confided in me “I don’t know what it is about your mother. She just has to be high society.” Both observations were right on. Just the latter is a little gentler.
We had no money when I was growing up. Zoned into a rich school district, I refrained from inviting friends over to my house because frankly, where I lived embarrassed me. Yet come Saturday, mom would order the week’s groceries over the phone – at the most expensive market in the neighborhood – and basically, overpay by a day’s wages she earned on her job in the city. To be fair, it was the only way she knew. High society all the way. Her mother (my grandmother) was by the way – the cheapest person I’ve ever known (or at least close to it). In mom’s case, neither nature nor nurture were relevant – unless you think she was rebelling against the lifestyle grandma imposed on her when she was young.
Moving on…maybe I was 13 or 14 years old at the time. Good old Popsicle (my father) came out to the house for one of his semiannual visits (yes, dad was an absentee father after the divorce). We went riding around in his car to somewhere and stopped off at a fast food restaurant called Shor’s on Long Island. For those not raised on the Island, Shor’s was just a crappy joint where you went up to the counter and grabbed a burger or dog and then sat down at a table to eat. Kind of like Nathan’s is now.
Dad was a big muckety muck at that point in his life. When he lived with us, the old boy owned a tv shop and spent his days either repairing tv sets or walking around on roofs installing aerials. But after the divorce, he returned to music and hit the big time.
So we’re sitting there eating our hot dogs and the old man looks up at me quizzically to say “Ya know. I’d rather be sitting here at Shor’s having a hot dog with you than eating at a fancy restaurant with some executive.”
To the point: I was raised by a parent who just had to have all the things she couldn’t afford. Pomp and pretense defined her. And all while the absentee parent barely owned a suit and obviously, couldn’t give a crap about fine-dining. Look at me! Schmuck on a bike wearing a hoodie. I got dad’s genes – and rejected mom’s example.
Hard to know about all this nature versus nurture stuff. I guess that’s why the subject has been under debate ever since I went to college (and probably a lot longer). To the real point: Could I score more babes wearing an Armani suit and driving a Maserati? No doubt. But look who I’d score. Gold-digging assholes. And those I can find in any whorehouse. I don’t need a $100,000 car or $5000 suit to do that!