When you’re at a table full of corporate friends and $200 bottles of wine.
When it comes to introductions, it’s always been simple for me: say hello, say my name, and attempt at a witty or sarcastic ice breaker to set the tone. I’m still working on the witty intro, but you get the point. Anyways, despite my somewhat awkward demeanor, intros have never been tough for me, but that’s usually because I’m alone. For the normal person, you might not be catching onto what I’m saying, but in 3.5 seconds, I think it’ll all become clear. When it comes to group introductions – the ones where you have to consistently jump from person to person, hand to hand, saying who you are and who invited you, usually during a mutual friend get together – those in particular, get a little more interesting for me. I will say, my witty comment comes a little easier however, because I usually lead with, “hello, I’m the broke friend.”
Okay, so this isn’t what most people have in mind when it comes to witty and comedic, but you have to admit, it leads directly into a discussion. And that’s sort of my point. Prior to my ‘broke friend’ introductions, I used to come to get togethers and kick backs and go around shaking hands and sharing my name. At one birthday dinner in particular I met up with what I like to call my ‘money friends,’ you know, the ones who studied finance in college and wound up in huge corporations, making 65K a year. I was the only person who was still struggling to find a job, masking as an intern ‘slave’ by day and a retail associate whore by night.
I couldn’t tell if my glass was water disguised as vodka or if I was just hearing things. She said it again, and I knew it was neither.
The birthday dinner could’ve been Kanye West’s favorite restaurant, or at least, that’s how expensive it was. The entrees were over $25 for what I knew, would be a tiny slab of meat and two fork-fulls of rice. Drinks were also pricy at about $12 a glass. I even checked out the salads and appetizers on the menu and my jaw dropped.
As they ordered their appetizers and $40 meals (I stuck to a small plate and a glass of water) they recounted stories of their horrible bosses and apartment hunting. Luckily I could join in on the apartment hunting, even if I did live in a shoe box in uptown New York. That was until one girl at the table mentioned that she was only able to afford a one-bedroom apartment that was $1,800. I couldn’t tell if my glass was water disguised as vodka or if I was just hearing things. She said it again, and I knew it was neither. Nevertheless, the dinner thankfully ended but not without a hefty bill that took us at least an hour to split evenly. I left feeling like I needed to file for bankruptcy and with an invisible label on my back as the ‘broke friend.’
From then on I kind of adopted the nickname, poking fun at it from time to time. It wasn’t that I was ashamed of the title; my friends and I chose different paths. And despite my distaste with some aspects of my life at the time, I was pretty happy. It did get me to think about the possibilities that I had walked away from and the new opportunities that had made way instead. If I had chosen engineering or marketing I could’ve swapped places with any one of my friends. I guess that wasn’t in the cards for me though.
I could’ve swapped places with any one of my friends. I guess that wasn’t in the cards for me though.
My full hand of cards has yet to present itself, but in the meantime I’ve tried to take a lesson away from that birthday dinner. I love my friends, and it would be shallow or insecure to drop people for the mere fact that they have money and I don’t, but I do my homework. The fact of the matter is that I can’t do everything that some of my corporate friends do. Sure I have enough money to treat myself now and then, but I can’t go out to eat four nights a week and expect to pay rent on time.
I’ve been invited to a couple of ‘rich dinners’ since then, and although I never turn them down right away, I admit, I do have to double check the state of my bank account.