Billy made a noise like a small, rusty hinge. He had just emptied his seminal vesicles into Valencia, had contributed his share of the Green Beret. According to the Tralfamadorians, of course, the Green Beret would have seven parents in all.
Now he rolled off his huge wife, whose rapt expression did not change when he departed. He lay with the buttons of his spine along the edge of the mattress, folded his hands behind his head. He was rich now. He had been rewarded for marrying a girl nobody in his right mind would have married. His father-in-law had given him a new Buick Roadmaster, an all-electric home, and had made him manager of his most prosperous office, his Ilium office, where Billy could expect to make at least thirty thousand dollars a year. That was good. His father had been only a barber.
As his mother said, "The Pilgrims are coming up in the world."
Thirty thousand dollars doesn't seem like a whole lot of money these days, especially when you consider what Billy had to do for that money--enter into a loveless marriage. A marriage of convenience for him. However, when you adjust that amount for inflation, Billy Pilgrim would have been making over $200,000 per year. That's a pretty good chunk of change. Again, he has to give up a lot for that money, including happiness.
I have to say that I've made choices in my life that have impacted my ability to earn a decent living. When I first started college, I studied computer science and math. I was pretty good at it, too. But, after four years, I was pretty miserable. I didn't like sitting in front of a computer, unless it was to write a paper for an English class I was taking. I knew that a lifetime of fiddling with computer code would make me wealthy, but not very happy.
So, I abandoned computers and went to graduate school to study creative writing and English, at which I excelled. Over twenty years after making that decision, I am not rich or famous. I work two jobs, live in a tiny house. Most days, I worry about money. This morning, I stopped by the gas station to fill up my car. I wasn't sure that I had enough money to pay for a tank of gas. I crossed my fingers, said a prayer, and filled up. The debit card worked.
The thing that I do have is a beautiful family, and I've been able to achieve a certain amount of success as a writer. That's more than a lot of people can say. It's more than Billy Pilgrim can say, that's for sure.
So, the point of this post is simple: I am living proof that money doesn't necessarily buy happiness.
Saint Marty is thankful tonight that he's a struggling poet.