Having lived in London for 10 years, I have maintained my bank account there and in that bank account are all of my pounds sterling. Because of Brexit, those sterlings are less sterling, and have lost a generous chunk of their value as punishment for the stupidity of the vote – 13% on just the day after.
When I arrived and started to understand what that meant – that a good deal of my very hard-earned money had evaporated without my consent – I remembered all the other times throughout my adult life that burst bubbles, stock crashes, and government perfidy erased the savings I am a chump to have worked towards all my life. And now the uncertainly of Brexit.
I could’ve succumbed to depression if I hadn’t decided to make lemonade out of lemons. Since I had just been ripped off of years of effort and modest living, I decided to live as if I weren’t Sue Katz, She Who Saves and Worries About Every Penny (only to be sucker-punched.) I decided instead that I should spend my money, not just surrender it without choice to sleazy financial and governmental bodies. I should add that I’m about to turn 69 and since I have saved and saved for old age, and since old age seems to be arriving for a visit of unknown duration, it is time to switch around and spend.
All of which is to explain why, contrary to a life’s habit, I ate where I wanted and what I wanted. As one friend said, I read the menu from the left instead of, as has always been my habit, from the right. I had eggplant stuffed with minced pork at an amazing Vietnamese restaurant and then went back twice for succulent cubed beef. I established myself as a regular at a neighborhood restaurant which, while the menu could only be called that unfortunate term Nouveau Cuisine, served the most scrumptious vegetable crepe and a damned good hamburger. I brought so many guests to this restaurant over the month that Kevin the gay proprietor squealed my name whenever I came in the door and seated me at the hidden back garden table for VIPs. And it’s no wonder: I was single-handedly paying off his mortgage.
Not pinching pennies – which can take both hands and half a brain – means I was able to luxuriously pass the time with one friend after another – at least one or two per day over a month – without a gnawing concern in the back of my head about whether this particular meal would mean that I’d have to die a week earlier in my dotage. Friends came to see me from Italy, Switzerland, Israel, Tunbridge, Whitstable, Bristol, and Brighton – not to forget south London – and I broke bread with each one without reserve. It meant that I could go to my favorite Turkish restaurant where “greasy grilled lamb ribs” does not begin to describe the orgasmic delight, and pick up the check without it giving me indigestion. It meant that I could go to My Old Dutch Pancake House and split not one but two confections with my buddy.
I broke down on my resolve to be a bigger spender many times, slinking off to the Pound Stores and the cut-rate supermarket, but then I’d shake myself out and saunter down to the – she says spitting over her shoulder – Whole Foods, which has followed the wave of gentrification into the neighborhood. There I bought the most delectable elite tea without bothering about the price at all – enough tea to sustain me during the month and to secret back into the States where a cuppa is sitting next to my computer as we speak.
Sitting, in fact, next to the pile of mail I have received from my London bank – surely credit and debit card accounts that I am unable to bring myself to open, now that I have returned to my scrimping real life. Perhaps one more cup of tea and I will buck up, stiffen my upper lip, and settle my arrears, putting that life of unfettered indulgence to rest.