never mind the backseats and the smokes

I mean, yeah. Nobody wants to get pregnant at 13. Best not to. And everybody knows cigarettes turn you into a gargoyle ten years to the day you first light up. And so, sure. We ought to make sure kids are told all this stuff in grade six. Government-sponsored shock propaganda, foamcore-mounted blackened corpse lungs and mangled Hondas and wagging fingers. Because there are just some things our children need to fear and know. Don't follow a mickey of vodka with a half-litre of chocolate milk. If you do, don't wear white jeans. Always get the cabbie to buy Schooner. You can tuck your six-pack under that tree, right in the open, and it will remain unmolested all night because goalies and defensemen and curly-haired, lip-glossed tormentors don't drink Schooner. Only old men and cabbies drink Schooner. Wisdom, you know? Stuff that's important. What a period is, and the point of it. How to protect a banana from The Clap. Why boys wake up all sticky. What happens to your blossom when you ride a bike.

They tell you all this stuff in school. Kind of. But they don't tell you the most important thing - something more important than backseats and smokes and the volatility of milk and vodka.

In the first term of your first year of university, a banker will find you and offer a brochure about free money. RUN. No wait. Before you run, throw a string of garlic bulbs around your neck. Then close your eyes to keep from looking at his face because when the Nazis opened the Arc of the Covenant, that bad guy's face melted off. Keep your eyes closed. Then raise one hand in the air, your palm in his face, and yell GET THEE BEHIND ME, SATAN! Then run.

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Credit card, credit line, overdraft. I'm going to calculate how much it's cost us to spend money that we didn't earn because spontaneous vomit is always fun and besides. Nobody wears white jeans anymore.

That's what we owe every month. That's $2015.88 every year in interest while Jabba the Hutt (the principal) sits there with his pants unbuttoned, belching. We've been more or less maxed out for...

(mutters, counts on fingers)

(spontaneously vomits)

...it would be conservative to say ten years. Even twelve or fifteen, though we started out with a lower ceiling. We have always taken as much as we were allowed. They kept allowing us more. Now do that math. I can't. I can't do it.

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My point is that you can get a prescription for The Clap. You can't outrun, outwriggle, or outwit the bank. They'll trick you. They'll whisper in your ear and make you shudder. They'll say they're here to help you. They'll wait until you're asleep and then plant visions of shiny new mountain bikes and authentic Hawaiian chi-chis into your unconscious. They'll make you feel like you deserve a Cove Stiffee and a hike along the Na Pali coast. They'll wait until you relax sufficiently and then they'll up your limit without telling you. And so you'll spend and spend and spend and spend and spend and spend and spend and oh, fun! Beer and live Hip tickets and you're a grown-up now, after all. Seared ahi tuna and Whistler/Blackcomb and luxury denim and what's ten thousand years in the future? BEING 37 YEARS OLD.

Because when you're 37 years old, the fantasy of tearing up a mortgage agreement after the final payment is a bigger orgasmic punch than Simon Le Bon ever packed. And that's the truth, western culture be damned. Except western culture is already damned. Our collective buckles under the weight of what we couldn't afford in the first place.

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Totally feeling like I just showed you a picture of my infected corn.

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Children and eventual 37-year-olds: money is never free. Never climb into a backseat with a bank. They'll get all up in your dress and make you think it's healthy. It is not. It never is. Be light of foot and you'll get to Kauai when you've earned it. And I promise: nothing will ever taste as sweet as that chi-chi.