Show Me the Money

by Liam Kuhn | 11/16/00 6:00am

I'm obsessed with money. Well, not really. But for the sake of argument (and for the sake of me finally writing a column that isn't about the fate of our precious Greek system), let's say that I am. When did this happen? I wasn't always like this. I used to be a fun-loving, outgoing guy who valued cherished moments and shared experiences. I used to be able to enjoy the finer things in life without putting a price tag on everything. I used to only be joking when I'd roll down my car window and ask for Grey Poupon. Now I go to sleep with dollar signs in my eyes and my dreams disturbingly include visions of Alan Greenspan where Heidi Klum used to be. All of a sudden, I'm like Scrooge McDuck incarnate.

So what happened? How did I become so obsessed with money? I'm not a senior, so the whole selling-your-soul-in-corporate-recruiting thing doesn't really apply. I don't exactly have a lot of money, and I'm not exactly good with it when I do have it, so it's not like I'm gravitating towards a strong suit of mine. I've taken one econ class while at Dartmouth, and I came woefully close to failing it. I would rather bikini wax Janet Reno than become an I-banker, and I lack financial ambition like Bob Dole lacks a functioning right arm (all my political jokes are on a four-year tape delay). I have no idea what a financial intermediary is, I don't know how to set up a Roth IRA fund and I can barely spell fiscal conglomeration. The only thing I know about the stock market is buy low, sell high. As ridiculously uninformed as I am about money, I can't stop thinking about it.

Mostly, I blame Dartmouth for this. Maybe it's just me being me and looking for anything and everything to criticize about this wonderful school, but I find it hard to believe that money isn't a big issue on campus. Most of my friends are economics majors and they're all either absurdly rich now or will be in five years. If I had a nickel for every time I heard a Dartmouth student complain about getting a $50 parking ticket for leaving Daddy's $80,000 Range Rover out on the street overnight, I'd be able to pay off my college loans while I still have my own teeth in my mouth.

Even though I might not be a typical Dartmouth student in that my homepage isn't and I've never read the Wall Street Journal, I have gotten swept up in the whole money-making craze that is life at the College. Well, not money-making so much as money-saving. And when it comes to saving money, I'm like a squirrel stocking up for the mother of all winters. I can go weeks without spending money. I never buy anything. I joined a frat solely to lower the cost of my binge drinking habit. I give pints and pints of blood just to get the free juice and cookies afterwards. My wardrobe consists almost exclusively of free t-shirts and the same pants and sweaters I've worn since the start of high school. I write email to everyone back home rather than call them on the phone, not because I enjoy writing, but because I'm too cheap to pay for long distance calls. I haven't paid for a haircut in three years. I let my hair grow until it looks like a ridiculously pathetic attempt at a white man's afro and then I get one of my brothers to cut my hair for free (which always results in me unintentionally looking like a Theta Delt pledge gone horribly, horribly awry). It took Moses less divine intervention to part the Red Sea then it does to get me to part with five dollars.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the average Dartmouth student's obsession with money. It's deeply ingrained in the culture here and rightfully so. This isn't Harvard or Yale and since we have no chance of producing any presidents or Nobel Prize winners or famous authors, we may as well produce rich people, and lots of 'em. Some people say money is the root of all evil and maybe they're right. But come on, how cool would it be to swim a few laps in a vat of your own cash, Uncle Scrooge-style?