As usual, I digress...
So, business has been really bad and I have been forced to reevaluate my whole business plan (yes, I have a business plan!). Should I stay in Beirut, where let's face it, the amount I make from one brochure means about the only thing I can afford in this town is a Starbucks coffee - a Venti, but still. After reviewing my invoices for 2011, I realized that if I were living in the US, local churches would be coming around giving me charity gift baskets as if to say, 'Oh, we're so sorry you're so poor, here, have a banana muffin.' And if I were still living in the US, I would so take that gift basket and enjoy that muffin with my Starbucks coffee, or my net worth as it were.
The trouble with being poor in Beirut is that no one admits that they're strapped for cash. It's like this giant taboo. I mean, people are actually ashamed that they can't afford the latest $8 million cell phone or ridiculous sports car that transforms into a rocket and flies to the moon. In fact, I would go so far as to say that admitting you have money problems is worse than, say, admitting you never graduated high school ... or that you robbed a bank ... or that you still wear Speedos.
I know that some people would even prefer to sell an internal organ in order to pretend that they live la dolce vita. Kidney? What kidney? Who needs that itty, bitty thing when you can get knee-high Christian Louboutin boots instead? I know what you're thinking, but the thought has never crossed my mind. Really! Why don't you believe me? I'm telling the truth. Honest! I'm not even a fan of Louboutin! Okay, okay. I'm kind of a fan. Minor, really ... a passing fancy, if you will. Perhaps maybe with a medium sized appreciation for the supple leather, pretty heels and oh so hot red soles. Nothing major. Alright, a little major. Okay, alright already, so I'm a huge fan! HUGE!
Other than being frustrated at not being able to purchase new, pretty things, another problem is explaining to friends that I simply can't afford to do certain activities unless I resort to the Daddy ATM machine, ever so popular in Lebanon but a place I haven't visited since 1995 (okay, 1998!). To some Beirutis, though, admitting that no, you can't just hop on a plane to the south of France for a 30 day vacation at a ritzy five-star hotel that costs $2,000 a night is tantamount to saying that you're homeless and living in a cardboard box in an alleyway off Hamra Street, practically starving if not for the LL250 mankoushi that Abu Mustapha, the guy with the neighboring impostor perfume stand, gave you after selling his eighth bottle of faux Chanel No. 5.
So I've accepted that I'm not going on any shopping sprees at Saks any time soon, but with Christmas and FOUR birthdays coming up, my bank account is still in a major panic. Wouldn't it be great if I could just buy everyone socks and they would all think that was the best present ever? Even the kids, would be like, Yay, socks! So awesome! Anissa is the best aunty ever! If that completely believable scenario doesn't happen, I could always feign innocence and be like Whaaaaat? Socks aren't a marvelous present? Why, I had no idea. Look, they have ducks on them!
Oh well, you know what they say: ♫ It's the most