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Money matters 

Now you see it, now you don't

Nothing blows like losing money, and I'm not talking gambling losses, because in that case at least you had some fun before the bills flew out of your wallet like dazed fruit bats.

No, I'm talking loss that comes like a comet out of nowhere, like some version of a crappy magic trick, like now you see your money, now you don't ... sucka. Like what happened to me the other day, and, dammit, it's not as if I'm Grant, who we think is followed by some kind of enchanted cloud that rains cash down on him wherever he goes. I mean, Jesus God, the man cannot not make money. He retired to a tropical island at 40, but that lasted maybe five minutes, and now he's back here racking up dough in all forms of productive endeavors. He has something like seven cars and two houses for sale, and even his latest incarnation, as a bartender at a real bar with bottles and everything, is just another case of people paying him to be him. I was there yesterday afternoon pretending to be unsatisfied with my glass of wine.

"Bad bottle," I droned like Thurston Howell III, "Barkeep, bring me a glass from a freshly corked one," I snapped my fingers, "QUICKLY."

He did it quickly, seeing as how I was the only one there and the bar wasn't even officially all that open yet. I hate hanging out at populated bars, so I always time my visits in the off hours, and I hardly touched that glass anyway, seeing as how I just wanted something in front of me to justify my presence.

My own husband is a bartender, and he says there are rules for tavern patronage, and one is that you can't camp out and not buy anything, and the other is that if the bartender is your friend you have to tip him big.

But back to my recent loss. The only other time I can relate to this is when I lost my check card at the Ansley Mall A&P in one of those older ATMs that keep your card after it spits out your withdrawal and then the screen asks you, "Would you like another transaction?" But it's too late because you're already heading to the candy aisle to pick up a bag of peanut clusters because at that particular time in your life you are all alone and in need of a departure from your normal bowl of cake batter for your customary marathon of "Mad About You" reruns that night.

I mean, you would have answered the screen if you were not all obsessed with what a total basket of turd pellets your life had become, what with your 50 million failed relationships, your lack of a decent job and that's not even counting your cat, who for some reason has lost all her upper teeth recently, and your other cat with the skin condition. If not for that you would have told the screen no and collected your card instead of leaving it in there and leaving the question on the screen and leaving an opportunity as wide as the highway for some miscreant to answer it for you.

"Yes," the miscreant told the machine, "I would like very much to suck every cent out of her life PLUS a few thousand dollars by using her hot card on an auto-parts shopping spree." And he did, all because I was too distracted by the prospect of spending my life in a sitcom coma with nothing for company but two diseased felines that Lary had nicknamed Gumface and Scabby Head.

So after that you'd think I'd be more careful -- you'd think. So when I opened my wallet and saw that a $100 bill was missing I was so damn pissed. The money was just so damn GONE, and there was nothing for me to do but walk around wailing like a sick sea elephant over my recent loss.

It must have been bad because Chris tried to comfort me by saying, "It's only money" -- and this from a man who once determined that we were mere weeks away from living under a freeway overpass if I continued with my extravagant habit of buying cat food that comes in a plastic container as opposed to the paper-bag kind. At the height of all this came a knock on the door, and I immediately assumed it was that one-eyed guy from the corner who keeps trying to bum money off us ("Big man," he calls to Chris, "gimme fiddy cen'."). But it wasn't him, it was Grant.

"Loser," Grant laughed, and shoved a fistful of money at me. It turns out I accidentally left the $100 bill on the bar the day before as part of his tip. "Here's your change," he said, and when he turned to leave I could practically hear the magic cloud of cash showering down on him. Giddy, I called after him, "Thanks for splashing some of it back my way!"

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