Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Real Impact of a Bad Economy: Weird Hypotheticals

The economy is fading fast. This recession has permeated through to every facet of society. Companies are laying off employees by the thousands. Families are struggling just to get by. But most of all, the rate at which people are agreeing to weird hypothetical situations their friends pose to them in which they're offered money to perform a bizarre or disturbing act are rising at an alarming rate.

The power of the weird hypothetical is that it makes you question your own moral and ethical values. Basically, it asks you how much money it would take for you to put yourself in an undesirable or uncomfortable state. Would you do this for a million? 10 million? It's a powerful conversational tool that has been corrupted by our economic crisis.

I'll give you an example: a couple years ago, one of my buddies asks me if I would accept ten grand to spend a night at the Neverland Ranch. You have to think about that one pretty hard. Michael Jackson is one of the inaugural inductees to the Freak Hall of Fame. So you debate it internally, and maybe you even say no. Now? Not only am I going, but I'm showing up with pajamas and one of those nightcaps on. I am ready for a fun-filled night of slumber partying it up with one of the world's biggest nutbars, and hopefully not getting drugged. People need the money, so if some bizarre situation presented itself that would give them a hefty pay out for doing something nasty, they will jump at the chance. Sticking your hand in the toaster while jumping off the roof for $500 doesn't sound so bad when you've got a car payments to make.

Of course, you probably can't afford health insurance to cover you after the fall, but we're splitting hairs here.

You may think you're immune; your principles are your principles, and no recession is going to affect how you look at these impossible situations invented by your idiot friends. Okay then, let me ask you this: how much money would it take for you to walk through Harlem with Michael Richards? What is your answer a year ago? $10,000 A million? Maybe no amount could make you do it on moral grounds. That's all well and good, but if you got that offer right now, you'd ask for $100, some riot gear, and a t-shirt that says, "This Is Just For Money, Really, A Lot Of My Friends Are Black."

It's going to make it a lot harder to get into interesting discussions about what you would or wouldn't eat for a certain sum of money. Ten years ago, there is no chance I'd eat garbage for anything less than a grand. In 2009, I am not proud to tell you guys that I'd probably eat some garbage for a hundred bucks. Maybe less. I would put on a bib and clank my knife and fork together in the anticipation of eating a pizza box and some coffee grinds, all for less than probably $75.

The question of whether or not you'd date an ugly celebrity is out the door, also. I can't think of many women I know right now - many of whom are decently attractive, independent girls - who wouldn't date Danny DeVito right now for a thousand dollars. Especially if it's only one date. I can think of worse ways to spend your Sunday afternoon. I'd go on a date with Danny DeVito for a cool G. It might be fun. I'm sure it would be an interesting conversation. "Jack Nicholson, now that guy seems like a fun time. How is the spaghetti? You're not expecting to kiss me at some point, are you?"

See? I just rationalized a date with Danny DeVito for cash. The prostitution of my time knows no bounds, and neither would yours given our nation's financial status.

It's getting so desperate that pretty soon, money won't even be part of our weird hypotheticals anymore. Now it will be - "Would you dive into this pool of hermit crabs for increased job security?" Or, "Hey - let's say you can get full dental coverage, but...first you've got to get kicked in the teeth by Bruce Lee in his prime. What do you do?" The problem is that the bizarre situations we agree to put ourselves will get weirder and weirder, and the amount of money will be lesser and lesser. I hope President Obama can do something about this before we're all driving in reverse through rush hour traffic for two dollars in Canadian quarters.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bungee jump naked for $20 and a taquito.

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