Thursday, October 18, 2007

Do You Take Plastic or Should I Offer You My Unborn Child?

With college comes bills, and with bills come stress. I admit, I fell into the trap credit card companies set for newly legal teenagers. When my eighteenth birthday rolled around, the influx of credit offers poured in, and after awhile, I began opening them. My parent's credit cards were always a solid color, boring, but these cards were a far cry from what I'd been accustomed to seeing. Beautiful beach scenes, animal prints, cartoons, mountains; the choices were vast and each color was more vibrant than the last.

I've always been a personalization
junkie. I spent more time choosing the colors for my MySpace than I did actually writing about myself. I used to draw on my jeans with a Bleach pen. I had a Bedazzler. When I was seven, I wouldn't leave the house without "accessorizing" (albeit too much) my outfit. I was a weird kid.

So it wasn't a surprise when I fell in love with a leopard print Capital One card. I love animal print, and I was really into leopards at the time. When it came in the mail, I was just about to leave for college, and my parents warned me to use the card for emergencies only.
And I did only use it for emergencies. That McChicken at 2:45am was an emergency, at least, at the time, because I was drunk and hungry. And those shoes that were 75% off at Macy's? A complete emergency. What about the Mystery Meat in the Dining Hall? Going elsewhere for dinner, despite my food plan, was an emergency. If only for the sake of my colon.

Of course, I had a job and I paid off my bill as best I could. However, the "emergencies" got more dire as time went on. I ran out of money for books in my savings account and was forced to charge them. $500 for books? I couldn't believe it. I hadn't spent that much money at one time in my entire life. My hands shook as I signed the payment slip.

I had signed a deal with the Devil.

Looking back, I probably should have just sat in the back of the classrooms without the books and faked it until I had the money, but I'm nearsighted and particular and I always sit in the front row. Yeah, that's me, keep laughing, at least it's not as funny as you look naked.

After the semester ended, I worked a lot, but I still never made enough money to pay off the bill. I was driving the kind of car that they set on fire at monster truck rallies. It probably shouldn't have been on the road. I ended up buying countless parts from the junkyard, shelling out money to greasy mechanics who made great eye contact...with my nipples. My car stalled in the middle of a Highway. In the left turn lane. In the middle of rush hour. In New Jersey. Being the strong, independent woman that I am, I sat in the drivers seat crying hysterically into the phone, begging my father (who was 1,000 miles away) for help.

So, as time went on, the bill kept getting higher. A new semester rolled around, and I had a newer car. Things were great for two months. And then everything went wrong at once and I was back to shelling out all my money to mechanics. I ended up charging books on a different card because the first was maxed out. Of course, by then, my credit wasn't too good and the card they had given me only had a $300 limit. It was maxed out with the books, and I was even more in debt than ever.

Fast forward three months, and my laptop gets fried. I won't go into the details, but I had nothing to do with it, and the person who broke it never paid me. I was stuck, an English major and self-proclaimed Internet addict with no computer. With the laptop went fifteen pages of a twenty page paper which was due in a week. Other classes were starting to demand more and more papers. Between school and work, the only time I had to do homework was in the wee hours of the morning. I did the only thing I really could do at the time: I applied for a Dell credit card and charged a new computer. Why they even gave me credit, I'll never know, but it was the icing on the top of a very tall cake.

So, my advice to those of you salivating over the abundance of credit card offers littering your kitchen counter: don't do it.

But if you do do it, be responsible.

And if you're not responsible, at least get it on sale.

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