What I’m Riding . . . Literary Food Stamps


Pick a card, any card

If you don’t know this already, I’ll clue you in:  most writers are broke.  Even those fortunate ones with steady gigs need to supplement the income.  Unless you work for a magazine or paper that demands a weekly or even daily column from you, or you are in that lucky 1% that is a household name with Hollywood beating down your door to turn your mental ramblings into a blockbuster, you are sustaining yourself on gov’ment cheese (Lingo alert:  Gov’ment Cheese, noun, an edible handout of any kind, can be your parents’ leftover steak from The Palm, the free half of the buy one get one at Acme.  It can also be your income tax return check, “I’ll buy that Dooney purse when my gov’ment cheese comes in”).  Even Sex and The City’s Carrie Bradshaw, who had a weekly column, was on the cover of New York magazine AND the side of a bus, made less money than besties Miranda, Samantha and Charlotte.  Why do you think Carrie went on so many dates?  Hello, for the free dinners that could double as tomorrow’s breakfast.

Being a writer takes a lot of creativity, and I’m not just talking on the page.  Just like everybody else, you have to eat.  Just like a lot of everybody else’s, your gov’ment cheese Dooney isn’t lined with Benjamins.  It’s a gov’ment cheese Dooney, so it ain’t even lined with Georges.  There might be a few copper Abes at the bottom, but who’s that going to feed?  You, beautiful baby, because you have discovered the beauty of restaurant gift cards, or what I like to call Literary Food Stamps.  Get ’em for Christmas, get ’em for your birthday, or get ’em with your Target, Kohl’s or WalMart credit card.  Oh, all right, get ’em with all three; you deserve it.  Cheaper APR than the majors, and you can pay them off 20 bucks a month until that 1% thing happens for you.

I travel a lot by car.  I’m not cash abundant, nor do I want to rack up $400 in food and gas receipts on the old Visa.  Or MasterCard.  Or Discover (AmEx won’t have me).   But with one trip to WalMart, I can not only get Lord Sciante’s Pup Corns and flea bath, I can get LFS for Olive Garden, Taco Bell, Bahama Breeze, Starbucks, you name it, they’ve got it.  Even steakhouses, for that wonderful splurge or if you just want to sit at the bar and meet that special guy who thinks you’re that 1% catch who makes enough money writing that she can afford to eat in a steakhouse.  He might even end up paying for dinner.  Win win!  Hey, throw in a third win; you’re not eating alone tonight.

LFS aren’t just good for food, as that minx of an “F” is a little deceiving.  (I hear real food stamps work similarly.  You can probably buy a massage with them given our country’s generous guidelines.)  I even grab a few iTunes LFS off the rack.  Need music to write.  It goes great with a Panera LFS, pick a table by the window and off you go to better place and time via your Baby Vaio keyboard.  Where do you think I am right now?  Paid $.04 for a bowl of soup and a bottle of water.  Hell yes, just realized I paid Vinny 4 cents for my sustenance!  It’s gonna be a beautiful day.


About whatimriding

Born and raised in Philly, I spent several years in Las Vegas, working at the House of Blues and writing about the city. I now reside in Tampa, where I continue to work on novels, scripts and short stories and tearfully await former Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier's return to the bay area.
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