I have long been amazed—often astonished—by the brilliant ideas that pour forth from the American banking industry.
To be fair, however, I am also quite mystified by the intricate workings of the clothespin. And Velcro? Whew, that stuff just makes my head spin.
But back to bankers. For an example of their deep thinking, I noticed when I reentered college recently that I was suddenly deluged with credit card applications encouraging me to chase the “American Dream.” Well, geez, that’s just fine if the “American Dream” includes filing for Chapter Seven on graduation day.
Giving unlimited credit to students who have nothing more than, let’s say, two Popsicle sticks to rub together? Pure genius, if you ask me.
I do not get asked things very often, it should be noted. The last was: “Yes, your hat does reveal a Lady Gaga creation, madam. Now, get the hell outta my movie theater, OK?”
But this is not a new banking strategy. Back when I was in college 15 years ago, a credit card company tried to entice me by putting the well-traveled tongue of 102-year-old rock star Mick Jagger on a credit card. MasterCard and Visa, to be precise.
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I see a likeness of Jagger’s tongue, I do not think of the words “credit card.” Rather, I think of the words “biological nightmare,” “Centers for Disease Control,” and “Petri dish.”
The letter from the bank inviting me to apply for the sloppy-tongue card said, “This is anything but your basic boring credit card. This one has all the attitude you’d expect from the world’s greatest rock ’n’ roll band.”
Well, just what I needed while studying college algebra was the Rolling Stones attitude. I’ll be sure to use the cards when I check into a plush hotel where I lapse into a four-day coma, right after I toss condom water balloons out the window, and bust up all the furniture.
The letter went on to dredge up lyrics from early Stones songs—written during brief lulls in the Revolutionary War—such as: “Sorry, but time is not on your side”; and “With this card, you can get satisfaction.”
I remember, however, that the letter writer had failed to include this sentence: “And Ms. Daffyd, not everyone who applies will be issued a card. Because as you know, you can’t always get what you want. Unless you have $500 million, a skull full of narcotics, or a parental signature.”
The application form that came with the letter was a prime example of why members of the banking community should never try to “get down with their bad, groovy selves.”
• “Your real name.”
• “Where you hole up.”
• “Date of your arrival on the planet (birth date).”
• “Years at present digs.”
The letter I sent back went something like this:
Dear Bank of Loons,
Let me see if I understand all this. For the privilege of being charged interest rates that would have made Bugsy Siegel wet himself, you want to know “where I hole up”?
Let me ask you this, you wacky banking dudes: Would the answer—“in my van, with your 18-year-old-student-son, who, by the way, has been hallucinating now for three weeks”—in any way diminish my chances of being approved for these cards?
Julie “The Ecstasy Chick”
PS: Any chance you could get the dude who is currently in charge of my Visa account—he goes by the name Attila—to stop calling at 4 AM about the unpaid $11 balance?
Until I find out whether I qualify for the Mick Jagger card, I’ll continue using the one I have. It features a picture of Pee-Wee Herman.
You should see the places I can get into with this baby. Padum-pum.
Well, as you can guess, I never did get that particular card, which is all for the best, because the thought of having the wet red tongue of that guy so close to my body all day would not exactly put me in the shopping mood. It would put me in the showering mood.
Now, 15 years later, and back in college, I’m once again staring at a credit card application. But, for me, just being in college is chasing my American Dream. Besides—and consider the source here—I already have two Popsicle sticks to rub together.
Bye for now.