The word "rich" makes me take notice.

Now, growing up rather poor scarred me a bit. Sometimes it's a good thing. Here's a list of behaviors that I and my friends who grew up poor share:

  • Much to the embarrassment of fellow diners, ask for a doggie bag in even the most up-to-the-minute chic restaurant. And ask "what was that you said?!" if the server sighs loudly because he/she is just utterly too cool to be waiting on the likes of someone who actually bothers to take home food (it's happened).
  • Pick up change (including pennies) on filthy city streets, as well as in public places where everyone's dressed in a suit and tie.
  • Peculiar tastes in food, including a love of Macaroni and Cheese, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Fried Bologna with Sauerkraut.
  • Bargain with the sellers at Tag Sales/Garage Sales.
  • Drink Grey Goose at home but economize and order Smirnoff when going out.
  • Having clothes mended, or wearing them until threadbare, instead of throwing them out.
  • Again, in a restaurant, check the items and the math on the check before I pay, while the rest of the table taps their fingers impatiently and server stands there tapping foot.

There are many more little signs that I recognize in others that're dead giveaways that they've either endured poverty at some point in their lives, or had dysfunctional role models when it came to handling money.

E2's pages are rich with articles about the ins and outs of being rich:

Etcetera. Enough lede. This is about joining the ranks of the nouveau riche, and then leaving the ranks of the nouveau riche.

Among my circle of friends who grew up poor, are a subset who went from rags to riches — and then back to rags, at least for awhile. I did, at one time, too. The title of this nodeshell was just irresistible, and again I'm going to throw prose to the wind and list some of the antics that I or my friends have gone through because we were rich at heart.

  • Somehow finding wildflowers and putting them in as many places as you can in your home/room, whenever you can.
  • Absent wildflowers (e.g., in the off-seasons) go dumpster diving Sunday nights at churches for the flower arrangements. I said churches; and Sunday nights. Funeral parlors are strictly off-limits, unless perhaps you're a really dedicated goth.
  • If you work in an office, use a paper cutter to cut good-quality rag bond paper in half, using the part with the letterhead for scratch and using the clean halves as personal stationery.
  • Taking anything that isn't nailed down from a deluxe hotel room you've just stayed in, and asking the housekeepers for more French Milled soap and boutique toiletries, offering a bag to make it convenient. They'll know what you're up to; a dollar and a wink will probably keep them from becoming cross or refusing your request.
  • Buy Earl Grey tea. And use the bags twice.
  • Visit an upscale neighborhood. Destination? Two words: Thrift Shop.
  • Save money by taking a bike to work or bringing coffee into work in a thermos, so you can buy filet mignon (or some other tasty treat) once a week or so.

When I was at wit's end and, for awhile, had to depend upon the kindness of others just to get by, the best way I could be rich at heart was being rich vicariously. Look around you, there's a wealth of sights and sounds and smells, probably within walking distance, that at least reminded me I was rich enough, because I was alive and had my health and could enjoy the pleasures of life that are free: moonbeams, stars, funky clouds, a babbling brook, a lovely garden. (And had a lot of time on my hands and little responsibility - boy, I sometimes wonder what it would be like to have a good, old-fashioned nine-to-five job and plenty of time on my hands.)

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