Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
He looked like money. His hair was tall. Yes, tall. He had black-rimmed glasses, a snazzy suit, shiny shoes, cigar in one hand and a cognac in another. Man of the world. Something I loathed, and yet was intrigued by. We flirted, but that was about it for I found him way too pretentious. While he dressed like money, he was hardly money. His father was.
But I have to admit that I was briefly attracted. Was it because everything about his aesthetic screamed money?
Is money what makes a man? I was chatting with a friend in the car about many-a-things when we glazed upon the topic of how money gets the girl. For fear of sweeping statements, mistresses amongst the rich are common, sex seems but a luxury had only by the rich. (I risk equating sex to love here, but that is another issue altogether).
Did he dress like money because a man with money was more attractive? I was on a plane ride and she who was next to me took to giving me advice: the things we must look for in a man. Number one – he must have money. Money.
So money can buy he who is rich some loving. Frank nodded and smiled at my thought, leaned on his cane and straightened his tuxedo and turned to the mirror. We were in the hotel room preparing for a high society ball and the room was lush. I just could not get myself up from the bed dressed in the gazillion-thread-count sheets and heavenly pillows. So I just laid there and stared at Frank.
Oh, the handy-dandy is sweet candy, he chimed.
Honestly, money had never been criteria in my search for prince charming — neither prince nor charming were the non-negotiables on my list. My heart was after wholesome love. Really.
What did they say love was, patient, kind and all that jazz? Frank took a long sip of his whiskey and leaned back a little as he let the warm liquid slide down his throat. He took another sip and refilled the glass. He was oh-so-silent about the matter.
Frank, is it really a rich man’s world?
He shrugged. Money and love, he said with a drawl, are two very different creatures. I do not think you can pursue one, without abandoning the other.
Have I ever fallen for money? Money has kept me where I did not belong, more than once. He and I were in love. The real kind. Or kind of. It was the kind that was young. Young love was exciting. It was also the kind that was deep. Deep love is intense. But mostly it was the kind that was fast. Roller coaster. As soon as we fell into rhythm, our differences began cracking our love-wall.
Then it stopped. Our loving, it just stopped. But we kept on going. I don’t know what kept him going, but sadly what kept me going was the fact that he paid for everything. My rent in that expensive space was one of the things he had paid for. That and everything else. My physical self found it hard to tear away from the comforts.
We kept on going. And going. And going – fight after fight. The depths of me called out to stop, with conviction. But my physical being called for it to keep on going. I looked for all ways possible to get out of it, without getting out of it, if you know what I mean.
So I cheated. Yes, I did.
Frank nodded as he sat glaring at me with his judgmental stare, swirling the whiskey in his glass, blowing the smoke from that cigar at my face.
The day did come that I finally moved out and lived once again on my own two feet. I found things were not so bad, but I tell you, money plays mean tricks. It confuses me, it manipulates me, it tempts me.
Tell me why is it that every girl dreams of marrying prince charming?
Frank threw his head back and crossed his legs. You tell me, doll: is it my charming looks or my princely wealth you are after?
No fairy tale spends time telling you how nice the prince was; I mean, he who is rich has the money also to be noble anyway. Right?
Frank calmly sucks on his cigarette and stares at me blankly in silence. Aren’t you going to get ready, he asked. I nodded and got up to get dressed. As I slipped on my black dress and turned to Frank so he could zip me up, I asked:
So maybe Frank, girls must be pretty, and boys must be rich?
Frank refuses to nod. It was not politically correct, nor did he dare to agree to such things. If they were truths, they were sad truths. I turned to look him in the eye and he, straight-faced and calm, takes another drag of his cigar and looks out the window.
My heart did recently flutter for one who really was rich, and charming. I told Frank I might be in love and he looked at me oh-so-suspiciously. Why was it that even when he had no answers, he looked on with such disdain? I was adamant he was my type. Frank was adamant he was not.
He turned back and sat down on the white leather armchair. Crossing his legs he said:
Think about it, take away his tall hair and riches, and see if he is still your type.
He raised his eyebrows. Yeah, and you say you are in pursuit of true love.
I glared at Frank.
Your love will last until a richer thing comes along, he added.
Money kind of blinds you a little. Or a lot.
Frank stood up and bowed and I looped my arm through his and we made our way down to the ballroom. I thought about it a little. Money and Love as creatures. Love the valiant noble one, and Money? Money had tall hair.
Money is unkind. It breeds contempt and inconsideration. It breeds envy and cultivates pride. It feeds the ego, nurtures self-importance and is self seeking. It makes one calculative. Money manipulates, it exposes, it crushes and causes one to be most untrustworthy. Money is false hope, always fleeting, the antithesis of love.
My heart did stop fluttering after a while. I know that if I did accept the rich thing’s pursuit, the buzz would eventually die down and I would restlessly continue my pursuit for the thing I had yet to find. Money may trick me temporarily, but I do not think I could live with that blindness forever.
I surely hope not, because I am adamant about finding the real thing.
Feature image by Mardiana Sani for ISSUE Magazine
Raina can get conflicted between her ideals, and all that is in the world and Frank makes sure she doesn’t stray, too much. She can also be seen onWritersClubKL.