If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is with representation.
— Farmer's Almanac
If you're reading this the day that Style Weekly hits newsstands, then congratulations, it's the day after tax day. You've survived another year of fluctuations and recessions, hikes and sequesters, furlough days and brown-nosed vultures posing as politicians — all so you could hand over your hard-earned, very-much-needed blood money to the biggest, most lethal and unforgiving entity there is.
Maybe you got a fat return, or maybe you're a cash-rich and savings-poor bartender like me and many of my brethren who actually owe money. Either way, it's another year watching your sweat and tears go toward an increasingly inefficient, gridlocked, rich man's system.
You can't stop "progress."
Unfortunately, understanding the tax code is for eggheads — people unlike me. And if you're a Style Weekly loyalist and creative type, then probably unlike you too.
But hey, paying your dues is a part of everyone's responsibility to society. It's a social contract. I understand these things. Living in America is a choice that we all somewhat willingly make. What, it's not like we can just up and move. Right?
No, of course not. We're too poor.
(Although I hear that once you get past the vicious canings and strict media censorship, Singapore is lovely this time of year.)
But wait. We're too poor to afford a plane ticket and way too lazy to learn Malay. Oh well, no skin off my ass.
So while we continue to pay the government for unrepaired potholes and underpaid teachers. While we hemorrhage our savings and the few morsels of pride we have left. While we must pick up half-smoked, whore-lipstick-smeared Newports to save money. And while we eventually are forced to steal out of our 18-year-old, Virginia Commonwealth University, part-time barista girlfriend's purse. … We still must drink top-shelf hooch and live the decadent life that we've become accustomed to.
With that, I give you some tips on how to survive the annual butchery. Here, ya buncha poors. Enjoy:
• Only pay the important bills on time. Cell phone, car, rent. Nonessential B.S. like "trash pickup," public utilities, school loans and child support can wait.
• If you work downtown, start rollerblading to your place of employment. Hitch a ski line to a rich co-worker's car at the end of the day so as not to accidentally get a workout in during the dreadful uphill climb back to the Fan.
• If you do owe money, do not, under any circumstances, pay it all back in a lump sum. It's called installments. Never decimate your savings because you're scared of the tax man. This rule can apply to almost everyone you owe money to — except for your drug dealer. He wants his money now, and he isn't a man to be trifled with. Trust me.
• Marry a rich woman or man. Fill the loveless and sexless void with shopping trips and vacations to Colonial Williamsburg.
• Inherit money from some long-ago forgotten, recluse uncle.
• Always be looking to steal toilet paper — from work, school, restaurants, port-a-johns, etc. Devote your guest bedroom to toilet-paper storage. Build forts and moon bounces with the excess TP and charge the neighborhood kids five bucks per half hour. Paying for toilet paper is a wealthy man's game, and it's a game that you don't ever have to play. There's toilet paper everywhere. You never know where a roll or two might turn up. Stay vigilant.
• Sob every night before going to bed. Curse the heavens for this predicament. Deplore the multitude of bad decisions that you've made and will continue to make. Pray for a miracle that you know deep down will never come.
• Stop paying money for music on iTunes and for services like Spotify and Pandora. Listen to more drive-time local FM radio. Wink-wink.
• Be more shameless.
• But seriously though, marry rich. Marrying for love is so 1990s.
Here's to another year of flailing about, attempting to keep our heads above water and asses out of jail. Though as John Maynard Keyes put it, "The avoidance of taxes is the only intellectual pursuit that carries any reward."
Let's go get a drink.
Jack's Top Shelf
- Ash Daniel
Carson Mariano Diaz, 32
Bar Manager, Pearl Raw Bar
The Gin Blossom
Hendricks Gin — "greatest gin ever." (Jack agrees.)
Fresh-squeezed lemon juice
Lavender simple syrup
Splash of San Pellegrino grapefruit soda
Served in a martini glass and garnished with a twist of lemon.
"I stumbled upon the gin blossom when the Richmond bar legend Dane Acton and myself were trying to make something terrible for a friend as a joke. It ended up backfiring on us and tasting really good. Now it's one of our more popular drinks at Pearl. The gin blossom is a great drink for this summer weather, plus it's light and will go well with all of Pearl's raw-bar options — crab legs, oysters, clams, mussels, etc."
— As told to Jack Lauterback
Contact Richmond bartender Jack Lauterback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauterback also is co-host of 103.7-FM's "River Mornings with Melissa and Jack," weekdays from 6-9 a.m. On Twitter @jackgoesforth.