#Storytime: When I got scammed by a stoner who sold me paintings of the Holy Mary.
I started publishing these #storytime, because my Instagram captions are turning into papyrus. Let me know if you enjoy the format.
When I was a young chubby bunny, I was obsessed with money.
Since I wasn’t born a Kardashian, nor my family wasn’t ‘getting money like an invoice’ (thank you, @tinashe for the reference), money to me was this sacred object that everybody was so desperately to catch, yet only a few seemed to be holding it so greatly.
Yep, like the Golden Snitch.
I devoured the stories of Uncle Scoorge; enjoying the parts where he avoided any sort of confrontation with reality and social responsibility, simply by taking a dip in his pool of gold, not giving one single fuck about what the rest of his family thought of him.
Uncle Scoorge was a hero to me and Richie Rich was my favourite movie.
I used to hold my pocket money like an old guard dog and growl at whoever dared to get close to that cheap pink box where I kept all of my savings.
Capitalism got under my young skin so much, that I even kept a balance of all of my debits and credits; scribbling the names of the people who failed to give me my money back and charged them interest.
Oh, did I forget to mention that I was 8 years old?
But one day, like any other poor kid who isn’t born with easy money, I got gifted the biggest lesson of all.
So I am sitting on the floor at home by myself, minding my own business, probably reading Harry Potter for the 10th time because I was a loser like that; and the door bell rings.
See, my mother is Dominican and she was really heavy on certain rules, and one of the them was: DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR TO ANYONE, YOU HEARD ME?
Now, I hear the bell and I know that I shouldn’t even be thinking of opening the door, if I don’t want to get a free facelift by the hands of my mother; but I am curious.
And I know that curiosity killed the cat, but I am a nerdy 8-year-old, of course I am curious enough to break my own mother’s rules.
So to solve the internal conflict that only an 8 year old can face in a situation like this, I think it’s a good idea to open the door to a complete stranger, but hold a butter knife behind my back ‘just in case’.
I open the door and here there is some rugged, dirty young man who is holding his hand in a weird way, but I am too scared to look at it because I know it’s not polite to stare at people’s disabilities, so I just try to look at this guy in the eyes. (I obviously fail at it, I am 8 years old, come on).
‘Hi, I am from the Church down the road. Your mum ordered these paintings like the rest of the building, but she forgot to pay for them’
I am furious. I feel anger rising at the realisation that I will have to use my own savings to pay for my mother’s negligence and I am so busy thinking about my money, that I don’t notice that a) this guys is high as a kite; b) my mum is a Buddhist; why would she cares about these Christian paintings? c) this man could actually kill me.
So I just show my adult face (didn’t work cause my checks were too fat at that point) and I just say ‘I’ll pay for them’.
I invite him to come in and ask him to wait in the kitchen, because I am scared that he might know where I kept my $50; yet I don’t care about the possibility to be murdered by him. Also, at that point I had to slide the knife inside my pants, so I was walking like an absolute idiot, trying not to let it fall through my leg and have him thinking I was a complete psycho. (Again, logic was not there).
Anyway so I grab all of my savings, holding back the tears while I am scribbling down -50 Mum’s paintings on my balance sheet, and I give them to him.
The palm of my hand was so sweaty and I felt like the money were weighing 200KG from how desperately I didn’t want to let them go.
The guy at this point was just so high that he was just staring at this weird picture I drew during one of my weird phases where I was listening to Evanescence and Marilyn Manson non-stop until my mother said it was enough, but then hung this dark, twisted drawing on the fridge. (It’s a drawing with guns, blood and spilled brains)
So he is looking at this and he is probably tripping out, but I am young and so unaware of the world of drugs still that I just think he’s an idiot, and with the false sense of confidence and self-entitlement that only a child can have, I tell him:
‘Here is your money. Thank you. I have to do things now’.
I felt like a boss, a grown up.
Piss off, mate, I need to go into a meeting with myself and find ways to get my money back; that’s what I meant.
Uncle Scourge would have been proud of my corporate responsibility. I am CEO, bitch. would have been my catch phrase, if ‘The Social Network’ had been around in those years.
So he hands me those paintings and then he disappears.
It’s at this point that the weight of my frustration and despair crushes me. I look at the Holy Mary staring back at me in those paintings and I feel guilty for feeling such anger and desire to seek revenge, after losing all of my hard earned savings.
I feel betrayed by my own mother; it’s like when she asks me if I want to go to shops and makes me pay with my pocket money and forgets to give them back to me. She fooled me, once again. I must be more careful in the future, I keep telling myself.
I am that angry that I can’t even go back to reading Harry Potter, which frustrates me even more, because money and books were the only thing that really mattered to me at the time.
So mother comes back after work, tired and she finds her daughter with the biggest frown on her face, pretending to read.
‘Why do you look like that?’ Dominican mother’s translation for ‘What happened?’
I put the book down and I look at her. It’s on like Donkey Kong, I think.
‘You could have told me that you needed 50 bucks for 5 stupid paintings of the Holy Mary’ (I refrain myself from saying ‘stupid’ Holy Mary, because I know I would get slapped for saying such blasphemy, but I thought of it and asked God to forgive me, even though I didn’t even believe in God).
This is where our heroine – chubby, money-hungry 8-year-old Virginia – finds the biggest lesson of her life through the most terrifying look that only a Latina mum, or any other immigrant parents can give you. (Sorry, white kids, but only centuries of imperialism and systematic oppression can release such angry looks).
She looks at me and I feel like her eyes are piercing through my body, taking my soul and showing it into a hole that has been dug by my own ass in hell.
At that point, which is the span of half a second, I realise that I should either run like a coward to avoid the spank and the Spanish yelling, or I should face my own idiocy and learn a lesson.
I was a wise kid. I stayed. And it was painful. Not physically; a slap is just a slap when you’re old enough to understand, but with every scolding I felt that money travelling further away from me.
I realised I got scammed by this stoned kid with a fake hand and that I would have never seen those $50 back.
After the ‘how could you invite a stranger to come in!?!??!’ and ‘as if I am going to give that money back, you’re an idiot!’ and my favorite, ‘THESE PAINTINGS ARE SHIT, HOW CAN YOU EVEN ASSUME THAT I WOULD BUY ANYTHING LIKE THIS MIERDA (=shit)!!!!!’ – I locked myself in the bathroom with the paintings; spat on them, felt guilty of doing that, and while I was tearing them to pieces, I promised to myself to never pay for anything so lightly like I did.
I never got that money back. Every cent that I put away to build back my small fortune was a reminder of both my mistake and the most important lesson of my life.
Money comes and goes, but watch it going because it’s full of priceless lessons that only an angry, worried Dominican mother can give you.
We let money flow our bank accounts so recklessly, as if it’s part of our lives to spend without being mindful about. We tell ourselves that we deserve this, that we earned that, and when we are once again sitting in front of our bank statements and surrounded by overdue bills – it hits us.
This is why it’s important to start learning about money and how to master it, as early as you can.