I am the opposite of The Hulk, in that apparently people really do like me when I’m angry. I know this because every now and then someone emails me a link to something unconscionably awful and says “get a load of this bullshit!”
A couple of months ago my sister emailed me to say “Have you ever seen The Millionaire Matchmaker? Honestly, watch it. You will shit a brick, then hurl that brick through the telly” – or words to that effect. As a lover of both shit telly, and having the excuse to write watching shit telly off as ‘research’, when it popped up the other day I refrained from turning over and settled myself in for a few minutes of relaxing, blood-boiling rage.
The premise of the programme is that millionaires are looking for partners. That’s basically it, although I should point out that on the one I watched all the millionaires were men and all the potential wives were women. I don’t know if this is the case for the entire show, so I’ll simply state that, naturally, if this is the case, then it’s sexist as well as offensively awful. But I’m not here today to talk about sexism, I’m here to talk about one of my biggest turn offs.
Look at all of my money!
I have a difficult relationship with wealth. Money’s great, of course. Without it I’d have nothing with which to purchase gin and crisps. But there are certain people who have a lot of money who seem to define not only themselves by it, but what your opinion of them should be. Wealth makes some people twats in the same way that good looks make some people arrogant. As if they are possessed of some magical, special quality over and above the contents of their wallet that will give them a headstart in your affections.
If you’re wealthy, then congratulations. You’re great, and you’re lucky, and you probably buy the gin in the fancy blue bottle rather than the stuff with the ‘Tesco’ logo on it. But above and beyond that, your wealth is nothing except a slightly awkward non-sequitur. If you got your money through talent, tell me about your talent. If you have it because of your background, tell me about your background. But waving fifty-pound notes and announcing your salary in a booming voice impresses me as much as a child who tells a roomful of adults that they’ve just done a poo in the potty.
The worst date I ever had
I got in trouble last week because I criticised The Rules, partly because one of them states that men should pay for things while women – save the occasional treat – should keep their purses firmly shut. Given my general hatred of discussing money, or having a guy’s wealth wafted in my face like it’s an enticing aphrodisiac, this advice reminded me of the worst date I ever had.
The gentleman arranged to meet me for a drink. This was at a time when I was pretty broke, and my weekly ‘beer’ budget was about a fiver, so I asked if we could go to a cheap pub I knew well, where I could guarantee I’d get at least one round in before I had to crack out my credit card. The cheapness was a condition of me agreeing to go on the date, and he agreed.
I arrived at the pub only to find him waiting outside, which struck me as a bit odd.
“It’s cold,” I informed him, pointlessly. “You could have waited inside with a pint.”
“I know,” he said. “But there’s a great cocktail bar around the corner and I wanted to take you there first.”
Like most Londoners, when I hear the words ‘cocktail bar’ I can’t help but picture a meat grinder, into which someone is stuffing ten pound notes. I told him again that I was quite broke, and that if possible I’d prefer to go somewhere I could afford to get a round in. After all, I explained, conversation is more important than cocktails, and I don’t really like being at the receiving end of someone’s redundant generosity.
“Sure,” he said. “Let’s have one cocktail then head back to the pub.”
Three cocktails later, I’d given up on asking. We had a couple of nice chats about his family, his job, my poor excuse for a life at the time, and were getting on relatively well. I’d managed to quell the panic that had hit me when I’d seen the prices on the menu, and relaxed into a fairly decent evening. Then we moved on. Not to the pub, because by that point he was pissed enough that all he could focus on was showing me exactly what he could buy. He hailed a taxi, which took us about 400 yards down the road, and into a wine bar which didn’t even have prices on the menu.
“What sort of wine do you like?” he asked, gesturing towards the bottom half of the menu.
“You know, I’m not really that fussy about wine,” I replied. “And if I’m honest, I’m a bit uncomfortable with you buying so many expensive things.”
A long pause, during which I shuffled nervously and tried not to look anxious.
“It’s OK – I’m not expecting anything in return,” he guffawed. “I just like nice things, and I’d like you to share them with me. We’ll have the [insert name of posh wine here].”
Until this point, I could have believed him. I could have thought – you know what? He’s a lovely guy, and isn’t deliberately trying to show off his money, he just wants to spend it. I should just suck it up, enjoy his company, and get over myself. I could have thought that, and I almost did. If he hadn’t followed the wine decision by proudly announcing:
“It’s only a hundred pounds a bottle!”
What are you trying to prove?
The moral of this story, if indeed there is one, is probably that I’m an uptight arsehole. One of the main things that made this the worst date of my life was that I couldn’t let go of the money factor.
But although my reaction might be a tiny bit extreme, the money factor is still a significant obstacle. Why? It’s not sexy: it feels suspicious. Filling my face with millionaire’s mojitos and one-hundred-pound wine is the equivalent of spending the entire date telling me that you do lots of charity work or that you don’t usually wear brown loafers. It makes me wonder what he’s trying to hide. Does he think he’s mean, so he needs to mention charity work to redress the balance? What’s wrong with brown loafers? Is there something innately shameful about ordering the house wine, or preferring pints to cocktails?
Look, if you’re minted and you want to buy champagne on your dates, that’s fine. If you love your money and want to find someone who will love it just as much as you do, that’s fine too. But that person is not me. If I’ve told you how much I hate pricey cocktail bars, then each time you buy something expensive you just demonstrate that you either haven’t listened or that you don’t care. What’s more, all I see is a huge flashing neon sign that says “I’m RICH! RICH! Fuck what else I might be, I’m RICH!”
It’s not that you can’t spend money on me if you want me to fancy you. It’s that I’ll struggle to fancy you if all I can see is your money. Put away your wallet and show me what you’ve really got.