It’s a sad but true, but "Neither a borrower nor a lender be…"
Like many of you good people – I know you’re out there – I’ve suffered from this lifestyle forever. Being the LENDER 99% of the time. I’ve been on the other end a couple times. Both have not been good, except with banks.
Hard to say why I’ve always been such a soft touch, as they say. Maybe I felt, ‘There but for the grace of God go I." Or, "Gee if I don’t help so and so out, one day nobody will help me when I’m in need."
Or maybe it’s a combination of both.
Seems like I’ve always been the guy who could get things or who had a few extra bucks.
Even back in the college days. Nobody gave them to me, but that never mattered. Somehow I always had a nice ride, nice clothes, a decent pad and so on. Not crazy nice, just better than average. Like many of you do and maybe did. And my "friends" or better said, acquaintances, would seem to always need that $20.
"I’ll pay you back next Friday," they’d say. But Friday never came, and most of the time I just let it go. One day maybe that guy will help me out. But that almost never happened.
It was a bad habit I got into.
I know, there some of you out there whjo have lived or are living this life, too. As time marched on, I guess the word got out to my other so-called friends, and the loans – gifts, really – got bigger and more frequent.
When I lived my "sting life" everyone I knew was borrowing dough from me. Even my partner Don Woodbeck. Hell, he got a bigger share than I usually did but was still always broke.
"Don, you went through 10 grand in five weeks!" I’d say. Some poeple just never save a dime. Sure, I ‘d get a portion of the money back. Or something like, "Hey, let me get that lunch check."
Big deal, I still never learned my lesson.
Know what, that’s when people started to dislike me the most. I was seen as the guy who had stuff they needed – not dope – but money. My part time pals hated to ask for hand outs, but they did and often. Without so much as even a thank-you.
Ever hear this one; "Hey, he won’t miss it, big deal." Or, "He can afford it."
The most horrible part of it all was, as time marched on, most of those friends went away.
When I needed help, nobody was there, except my grandpa Benny. Funny, he did more for me than anyone and never asked me for a damn thing, except my love. Boy, do I miss that old man. I think about him every day. Bennie flew to LA to bail me out of jail – big bucks. He helped pay my lawyer bills and sent me money in prison.
That sounds bad, but he was a true friend. See, Bennie was not even my real grandfather. He married my Mom’s mom and on her death bed swore he would look after me and my two younger brothers. He sure did, God bless his soul.
When things got good for me out in LA, the late 80’s early 90’s, I helped my girlfriends pay rent and loaned my down-on-their luck actor pals money. One day when I was walking the track near my gym, my pal and kinda dutch uncle Aaron Binder (now deceased), gave me a great piece of advice. He said, "I see you doing way too many handouts to people, Craig. They’re just using you. They don’t even know it, but at first they appreciate it – then they expect it. Then they resent you.
"You wanna see hate? Next time one of these friends asks for money, say NO. You’ll never hear from them again."
So a childhood friend, Rob called me from San Fran. I’d always helped him out – the guy was always down on his luck – $50 here, $100 there. I’d buy his meals when he was in town. It occured to me that Rob had offered me almost nothing ever. Sure, he was a voice on the phone that was always in my corner. Always happy to see me and he seemed to mean well. He just could never catch a break.
So like Aaron told me, I finally said, "No. Rob. I have to stop giving you money because it will never end."
Didn’t hear from Rob for four years. We knew each other since third grade, lived close when we were boys, played ball on the same teams, his parents were good friends of mine. I even invited him to my wedding – never heard from him. All because I was no longer an ATM.
Aaron was right.
I’d like to tell you all that your humble scribe is much better now, but that’s not true.
I still give out concert tickets (not just Stanford’s but to rock shows, theater comedy shows, Las Vegas – you name it., And I’ve loaned out or given out way too much money. I just feel bad for all these people. It never went away. Sure, I know 99% of them would never help me out if the situations were reversed.
I also know people want to think I’m a jerk and only care about myself.
That’s not true in many big ways. Some of my true friends like Billy, Hearne and others know I do this and try and stop me from continuing. Oh, it’s ok to buy a girl a gift or help her out with a bill or two if she’s your gal. But all these others? NO.
And there are almost no thank-yous. They all feel I owe them somehow. I have buddies that I’ve given thousands of dollars in Chiefs, Royals and college ball tickets. And almost none of them have bought me even a lunch. It’s so weird.
And some of them have more bucks than me!
"Hey Craig, can you get me four tickets to the KU/MU bastketball game?" I say, "No, I’m not connected to that." Or my comp tix come from radio or producers or agents and there are none to be had. Then I hear, "Oh, if you’re such a big deal you’d think you know someone who could get them." And I go, "Dude, I’ve gotten you tickets to a ton of stuff before, I can’t always do it." And they come back with, "That was a while ago." For the love of God.
SO NO GOOD DEED GOES UNPUNISHED.
I bring this all up, because it just happened again recently with a close girl friend who wanted free tickets for her dying parents. Contrary to what you want to believe about me, I do like to help out when I can. But there’s no magic Free Ticket Button. Often you have to call several people to try and get the tickets and it’s major pain in the ass. The other bad news is, the person I’m asking usually doesn’t even know my friend. They know me and now I owe them a favor.
Meanwhile, my friends could care less.
In 2004, I had lost a major club I owned, Johnny Dare’s. I was coming out of an expensive court case (my indictment from 2001), my mom had become quite ill and money was very tight. I had to make my Overland Park club nearly double its output to cover me and my family’s bills – even my brothers. Those were tough times. Nationwide my friends knew I was hurting. Only a handful called about it, and few offered any REAL help. Even the ones I’d helped before who were doing great now.
Some enjoyed seeing me twist in the wind, I’m sure of that.
A rich guy I met in prison loaned me 25 g’s when I got out. He was worth over $500 milliion. He was a good guy. I didn’t get on my feet for maybe two years and hadn’t paid him back. I did sign a note to him and a few years later I got in a lawsuit over it, and he got paid. So in effect, I had done to him what hundreds were doing to me; "Hey, he can afford it. I can’t"
I had tried to stay pals with him, but we didn’t. I always felt bad about that, because he did help me out. And I knew how it felt a thousand times over.
In the end we sink or swim on our own. YOU have to make it happen. A helping hand can’t be there forever.
So when you need a true friend, they will be there, behind you. Money doesn’t always matter but friendship always does.
I am blessed. I have several good friends. You can’t buy them, you have to earn them.