Cheap

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Words || Rhys Smith

I guess I’ve always wondered about how much a human life is worth. Maybe it’s the sum of the physical (a quick google search bringing up $45 mil), or maybe the soul, that shitty little light in our eyes, makes us worth more. 

Yes I know it’s macabre. Can’t help it though.

You see, I think it’s entirely possible to place a price tag on a life, albeit unadvised. We’ve got to have some value right? I wonder who gets to decide. And what if I measure myself differently to the man half a block down the street. If me and my neighbour can’t come to an agreement maybe we could average out the values.

I suppose it’s stupid unless I suddenly start buying and selling body parts for a living – with the way uni’s going it’s entirely a possibility. Money is just such a boring concept to me – other than the strict dogma of capitalism, I rarely get involved in fiscal matters. The economy clearly wasn’t built with my family in mind (suspiciously it seems to only favour the rich).

I’ve never been rich – haven’t been homeless either. The luck of the draw.

I had a friend growing up – he lived down the street, across the alley and down the hill. We were inseparable when we were young. 

Let’s just say there were numerous parallels in our home lives that made us thick as thieves.

These parallels had the adorable side effect of demolishing our self-worth. I guess it’s hard to find value in yourself when the world seems hellbent on telling you you’re not enough. Alas, this isn’t a depressing tale – rather the opposite actually.

You see it didn’t matter what happened at home or what happened with the money, we were always out in the parks running about and playing childish games. Come rain, hail or shine we saw each other.

We weren’t perfect, I mean he tried strangling in his cubbyhouse once – that was fun. He had what the teachers liked to call anger issues and I was what one would call a golden child. Most of our teachers must have found us an odd duo – a fighter and a charmer.

Fucked if I ever liked being the golden child – I mean perfection is boring but the perks and the ability to push the lines was fun, and lying had always been a forte of mine. I utilised my silver tongue to its full potential just for the fuck of it. My friend wasn’t afforded such luxury instead being called out for all the tiny imperfections and mistakes he made. Life is cruel to people who don’t know how to manipulate people.

We grew older, money was a bore and our thoughts were always turned to cute girls, cheap vodka and pretty boys. We were brothers of a sorts, built on understanding and mutual pessimistic views of the world.

Funnily enough our personalities stayed the same. I was a liar and he was a softie running around pretending to be a brute. I guess some of my lying had rubbed off on him. 

Let’s just say that school wasn’t an environment made to facilitate him – we still savoured every moment we could outside those walls. He’d throw peoples pencils out windows and I’d achieve good marks – then we’d go to his place and watch tv, or play soccer in his yard or play whatever game we were into at that moment. Money didn’t come into it.

By that I mean we had money problems (maybe more so our families did), but regardless of whatever came up, we lived in that world. I mean it was easy to, money couldn’t touch our friendship anymore than the rest of the world. 

Even after we both got jobs money just existed –  he’d dropped out because the schooling system had failed him just like it failed so many others. Screw who owed who and how much everything cost. As long as we could afford a drink we were set.

We used to buy the cheapest bottle of vodka, imagine dish soap style burn but with no flavour, and get hammered. He got a girlfriend, I started a fling with a guy and we were at that age of partying, drinking our livers dead. I remember sitting out the front of my house smoking the least expensive cigarettes we could buy – my friend threw up in my backyard that night.

We got even older and he started driving us places because he knows I hate fucking driving – we never went too far, only to the servo or the bottle store. He laughed as he filled up his car with e10, “only the cheapest shit for us!” he laughed.

Maybe this has been our entire life, thinking we’re living outside the world of money but really being squashed by it. Bottom-shelf booze for idiots like us. At least we were happy. I fucking hate money, but at least I had food to eat and vodka to drink.  

Maybe me and my friend are cheap. Cheap as in stingy. Cheap as in shitty quality. Cheap as in worthless. I don’t think we’ll ever give a fuck. We didn’t have everything, but we didn’t have nothing and that made all the difference.

Have we ever really needed to feel rich? 

No.

Cheap vodka and cigarettes have always enough for us.

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