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Michael Cleverly: Cleverly or Not

Michael Cleverly
Aspen Times Weekly

The lady on the other end of the line was calling regarding my propane bill, the one I hadn’t paid. She seemed nice so I decided not to be my usual prick self. I gave her my absolutely reasonable explanation for not paying…I had no money. To my surprise she accepted this without a whimper and we went on to chat about the economy and I got the sense she was in about the same shape as I was. She said there were so many calls of this nature to be made that people were coming into work on Saturdays. Finally, an upside, the bill collectors are getting in some OT. I should have asked if they were hiring right then and there.

Now that we’re deep in the tunnel with yet no sign of light, it’s safe to assume we have a long haul ahead of us. It’s time to tighten our belts, trim some fat as it were. Since all the morning TV shows are devoting an inordinate amount of airtime trying to help people to save money on a daily basis. As a public service I’m going to offer a few tips of my own.

Things you can do without.

1. Your shrink

When things were good you didn’t know why you were crazy and depressed. Now that you’re broke and everyone around you is destitute you know why you’re miserable, so you can lose the shrink. He was overpaid and full of crap anyway. Let him be depressed for a while.

2. Massages

Man-up for Christ’s sake. No more pampering, you haven’t done anything to deserve being sore in as long as you can remember, certainly not an honest day’s work. Back your ass up against a tree and rub.

3. Hookers

This is no time to be paying others to do something you can do for yourself.

4. Going out and getting drunk

You’re going to end up a miserable, solitary, old rummy anyway so you might as well start now. Drinking out is wildly expensive, go buy a bottle and hunker down at home with your pet rat, you’ll save a fortune. No more DUIs…bonus!

5. Taking someone out to dinner

In the upper valley it costs the same as buying a used car in the real world. You probably do this sort of thing in the hopes of getting laid. Let me tell you something: There’s no real reason the two activities have to be related. It’s cultural, something some people have come to expect, give it up. Steal a cookbook from the library and hit the supermarket. Make him/her a nice, non-poisonous meal and remember to save something for the rat. Your chances of getting laid are about the same.

6. Getting laid

Why bother?

7. Having fun

I realize that getting laid could have come under this heading but I wanted to emphasize that the answer is the same. Why bother?

8. Your gym membership

Do you really, really think you have to go to a gym to get exercise? Can’t you think of one single thing you can do to break a sweat that doesn’t involve paying for a membership. Run, jump, play?

9. Your personal trainer

Think, damn you, think. How can I break a sweat? By the way, if you have a personal trainer I don’t particularly feel like giving you free advice. If you’re reading this column and are getting anything out of it, I’ll expect a check.

10. Betting on the game

Want some “juice?” That sick, excited feeling in the pit of your stomach? Take a look at your 401(k).

11. Lottery tickets

See above. Look, it’s only a buck here and there but you’re not going to win just because you really need the money. You always needed the money. Did you win? The only way you’ll win is if you have a single digit IQ, live in the most disgusting trailer in the world and promise to let yourself get bilked out of every penny of your winnings by crooked lawyers and evil relatives. Actually, when I put it that way maybe you do have a shot. Nonetheless, take the dough and buy some “Rat Treats,” he is your only friend.

12. Your girlfriend

Unless she’s managed to keep her job at the Tasty Freeze and is willing to pitch in, and her acne has cleared up, lose her. The rat likes you better anyway. See advice No. 3

13. Television

Stop watching television. Television is driven by advertising. Ads try to sell you products, make you want things you can’t afford…like food. Try picking up a book. I suggest Dickens… always cheery. If you prefer something more contemporary, Cormac McCarthy can be good for a laugh. Just reread “The Road” again, and again, and again.

Or better yet, buy my new book “The Kitchenette Readings.” It’s all about training yourself to get by on less. Starting your day with a light continental breakfast, half a muffin, a couple swallows of juice and some weak tea instead of all that bacon and eggs and other things that make you not hungry anymore.


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