What the heck is an IRA? I asked them, genuinely baffled and curious. Individual retirement account. OK then. What is that and why do I need it? I kept asking them.
I had a meeting with them. Human Resources was there, looking so dapper and friendly I wanted to punch him. Finance was there, taking a break from his powerful job of managing money. Human Resources wore a gold tie; Finance, a red tie. Greedy cocksuckers. I wanted to punch them. I get real violent around greedy condescending cocksuckers like that. I wanted to lunge teethfirst across the table at their throats and make the evening news. Two corpses and broken teeth! I asked, What is an IRA?
They could not tell me. They described in vague terms the various benefits that an IRA would give me over time but they were never able to articulate in plain English the definition of an IRA. An IRA is? I prompted them. An IRA is? They could not finish the sentence.
That was because they did not know either. It took me a while to figure that out about them. The Finance Guy did not know what an IRA was. The Human Resources guy did not know. They did not know then and probably now they still do not know. They don't have to know. They can do their jobs perfectly well without knowing.
That was a long time ago. I'm smarter now, I play ball, I'm nonviolent, except when I scream and throw shit. Like just now I got real mad thinking about condescending greedy cocksuckers in gold ties and condescending greedy cocksuckers in red ties and I went into the living room and picked up the couch and pitched it out the window, the glass busted out, the screen busted out, the couch went flying out the window. I just defenestrated the fucking couch. Raaaaaah!
I hope I crushed a greedy cocksucker. I still don't know what an IRA is. But now, see, in agreeable middle age I do have an IRA and each month I send money to it. I send money and the money gets swallowed away in a nilspace with an audible gustatory belch and, barrupp! it's gone. But that gone-ness, that pecuniary insider-trading wink-nudge old-boy nilspace emptiness, puts me in a place where I can hazard a definition of an IRA.
An IRA is a tesseract.
No, that won't do. It is not a tesseract. But it is an imaginary thing like a tesseract or money itself or any conversation between any two people. An IRA is a tesseract an agreement between me and a group of people who have much more money than I. The agreement is, I will give money each month to these people who already have a great deal of money.
Later, I will die.
That is an IRA. And here is a poem by Philip Larkin, who loves you. I love you too with all the windowbusting violence of my heart. Raaah.
(Learn more about Philip Larkin at the useful Poetry Foundation web site.)
by Philip LarkinQuarterly, is it, money reproaches me:
"Why do you let me lie here wastefully?
I am all you never had of goods and sex.
You could get them still by writing a few cheques."
So I look at others, what they do with theirs:
They certainly don't keep it upstairs.
By now they've a second house and car and wife:
Clearly money has something to do with life
-- In fact, they've a lot in common, if you enquire:
You can't put off being young until you retire,
And however you bank your screw, the money you save
Won't in the end buy you more than a shave.
I listen to money singing. It's like looking down
From long french windows at a provincial town,
The slums, the canal, the churches ornate and mad
In the evening sun. It is intensely sad.
from Collected Poems
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001
-- Eric Bourland 25 May 2010 for BAP