Monday, April 21, 2008

Love, Money, The Pants-Shitting Fear Of Growing Up... This Post Has EVERYTHING!!!

For most of my adult life, I've been dragging around a hateful, two-ton boulder called "credit card debt" and, due to it's soul-sucking nature, my life has sort of been like a man trying to run a marathon with his feet chopped off... sure, he's making progress, but just barely, almost imperceptibly, and his path is marked by a polka-dot pattern of bloody stump-prints (which represent all the missed opportunities and blown shots at happiness that are the result of never having any money, just so we're clear). Now, don't get me wrong, I'm completely aware that the fault here lies entirely with me... I got credit cards when I was barely mature enough to remember to check the mail every day, much less handle what amounts to the financial equivalent of a loaded gun with a busted safety catch and then, because I'm all kinds of stupid, I ran up the charges while making it my business to avoid ever paying the bills.

It started out as stupid kids stuff... the rotten irresponsibility of youth... but, as I've grown up (in actual years, not in terms of maturity), it has solidified itself into this weighty, rock-solid monument that I've worn chained around my neck like some Stone Age bling. And it has kept me, for lack of a better phrase, eternally young. And not in the good, Ponce De Leon-ish, Fountain of Youth kind of way; it's kept me young like the thirty year old guy who still borrows money from his parents and lives in an efficiency apartment next to a check-cashing place in the bad part of town.

And there's no question that that's exactly where I was headed. I could smell the moldy carpet, hear the distant wail of sirens, taste the malt liquor that I bought on sale...

But then, for reasons I have yet to entirely figure out, Girlfriend decided to take my fate into her own hands. She decided, against all reason and logic, to utter the one phrase that sounds like a hundred prison cells unlocking. She said to me:

"If you promise, promise, promise to pay me back, I'll loan you the money to pay off your debt."

And I made that promise and she gave me that loan. The debt is now gone; replaced by an owed sum that's interest free, but loaded-for-bear with one immutable truth: If I pay her back, we'll more than likely live happily ever after. If I don't... we won't. It's a frighteningly simple as that.

But that... the last part... isn't going to happen. There's just no way that I'm not going to pay her back. Doing so would end me, and not just in the sense that she'd stab me to death (which she totally would, and not a court in the world would convict her). What I mean is... not paying her back would be a betrayal of a trust, an act of aggression, a direct slap in her face for daring to believe in a person as low and miserable as myself. I couldn't do that to her. But also, I couldn't do that to myself... I wasn't raised to be that kind of man and discovering that I'd turned out like that anyway would break something deep inside my mind and my soul and my heart. I've been down some dark, scary, spiral-shaped slides before, but this would kick me off the darkest and the scariest one in existence, man... one that ends with a sharp, long drop into nothingness... can you dig it?

This, I do not want. I love Girlfriend, would like to marry her sooner rather than later, and would much prefer to not get broken against the rocky coast of my own worthlessness yet again.

So I've got to spend the next six months or so growing the fuck up. Easy-peasy, no sweat, watch him stick the landing, folks! At least I hope so; I hope it's like that... I know deep inside my mind and my soul and my heart (the very same places previously marked "Fragile," if you'll remember) that this is what I want. Thus, I'm going to do everything I can to achieve that end. I've already decided that I'm going to get very well acquainted with my Netflix account and my bookshelf and my computer screen... going out, right now, seems like the wrong move. I've spent the last ten years or so being Mr. Social and it's time to hang up that mantel for a little while. Staying in will help me to avoid the temptations and avoiding said temptations will help me save money and saving said money will help me pay Girlfriend back and on and on and on.

It's about being responsible... something that up until now I've never really been. I've even actively avoided it, on occasions, but the fact of the matter is this... I'm going to turn 28 in a few months. I'm inching ever-closer to becoming that thirty year old loser in a dumpy apartment. This here... this really feels like my last shot.

So fingers crossed, kids. Time for C-dog to be a big boy, once and for all. The grand prize? The love of a good woman (and believe me when I say, it's a prize worth the effort). I'll keep you posted on my progress, should any of you be interested, but be warned... I'm going to do my best to make it as uninteresting a journey as possible. No bumps in the road, no turbulence, no crashes or winding detours.

I'm anticipating nothing buy smooth sailing ahead (but don't un-cross those fingers; a little luck never hurt anyone).


Anonymous chris w said...

That's a sweet story and pretty damn amazing for Girlfriend to do that. From what little I glean from your postings on here I can tell you're a stand up dude so I have no doubt that you'll pay her back.

This post hits even closer to home because my mountain of college loan debt is increasing and I'm scarily close to graduation.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Yeah, it *is* pretty damn amazing. Literally the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me. I certainly hope that, at my core, I'm as stand-up a dude as you think I am. Debt sucks, but getting out of it feels good in a heart-stopping terror sort of way.

11:26 AM  
Blogger Todd said...

Clinton, this has got to be one of my favorite ZFS posts. Considering some of the hillarious stuff you've written in the past, that's really saying something.

1:59 PM  
Blogger i like cheese said...

I am really impressed. Good for you!

2:38 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Todd... Wow, thanks dude, to everything you said. Glad you liked it.

Cheese... (thumbs up!)

2:43 PM  
Blogger jason quinones said...


the only thing that coulda made this post better was if there was a totally awesome power ballad playing in the background as i was reading it! journey's "don't stop believin'" perhaps!

congrats on bein debt free and to having an AWESOME GF!!!

but does this mean no more purchasing wasteful foodstuffs from chinatown to consume???

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You really have a great girlfriend. Honestly, that's something I myself would never do. Not a judgment-- I just wouldn't. But that's me. I think it is very great that she did that for you, and an amazing step on the faith-and-trust road that will hopefully lead you two to wedded bliss sooner than later! And you'll be all the better for it when you do get there.

I love hearing get-out-of-debt stories. (I'm kind of obsessed with money and personal finance, and things like writing budgets are fun for me.) So I'll be very curious to read your updates!

Congratulations on having such a fine lady in your life.


3:17 PM  
Blogger Big Daddy said...

Good luck!

4:00 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Jason... The cost of the food will not be the thing that kills ICFC. Trust me, that stuff is usually like 90 cents a pop.

Phoenix... She's the best, there's no denying that. I'm pretty much subtitling this whole adventure, "The Road to the Future." Makes it seem more dramatic.

Big Daddy... Gracias!!!

4:08 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Have her sue you and get on Judge Judy then we can all watch JJ make fun of you for being a big baby. And in addition to making you pay her back send you to weight watchers camp. Not that you need it of course. If you come up with some clever lines and tell her about Girlfriends torture of you with ICFC goods, you might be noticed by some talent agent and get a lucky break.

5:14 PM  
Blogger Todd said...

Power ballads make everything better. I played "Love Bites!" at my great-grandfather's funeral and it got everyone on their feet!

5:16 PM  
Blogger Midwesterner in NYC said...

going out, right now, seems like the wrong move

Yeah, I have been thinking he exact same thing recently.

6:56 PM  
Blogger DrunkBrunch said...

This is amazing. Good luck!

I had credit card debt about 5 years ago. My then live-in boyfriend suggested that I write a big check and just... pay it off. I did, and I felt so much better.

Our relationship didn't last, but I'll always be grateful to him for making me more responsible.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

David... Judge Judy reminds me of the scary, mean ladies that work at the bank and hate everyone.

Todd... Totally! I once played "Heaven Isn't Too Far Away" at this one guy's trial for murder and it was a huge hit!

Midwesterner... Being a hermit is so much more awesome. Reading books!

Drunkbrunch... Yeah, it feels really awesome to have it paid off. No more harrassing phone calls!

7:46 AM  
Blogger Bill From Gainesville said...

Nice post. I am happy for you!

7:47 AM  
Blogger Irish and Jew said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:40 AM  
Blogger Irish and Jew said...

Irish and Jew said...

The song i heard playing in the background was also journey, but it was 'faithfully.' A little more gay? Perhaps, but accurate? Def.


ps i'm sooo mature. the only reason i haven't been going out lately is cause i cant wear makeup due to my recent lasik surgery ;)

9:42 AM  
Blogger brookLyn gaL said...

Good luck!

Spend some time on and Perhaps on occasion we can coax you out into the social world with one of those events.

11:33 AM  
Blogger Lioux said...


Does Girlfriend have a gay brother?!

12:15 PM  
Blogger Clinton said...

Bill... And I'm happy that you're happy! Every body wins!!!

Jew... You and your x-ray eyes...

Brooklyn... Will *totally* be hitting up those sites. I'm all about getting free crap for free, particularly if it's booze.

Lioux... Sadly, we're gay brotherless in the C-dog/Girlfriend household.

1:06 PM  

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