Okay, we're back with the next installment on my selfish journey...where we learn a little more about our protagonist Curtis, and a little more why he dreads his financial statements.
Speedbumps and Snowballs
By most measures, Curtis Stanfield was rich. Not obnoxious Trump-esque, Russian Oligarchy "my-shit-doesn't-just-not-stink but-it's-considered-a-lip-smacking-delicacy-by-epicureans" rich, but “just-enough-money-to-not-have-to-work-if-I-didn't-kinda-enjoy-working” rich.
He wasn't born rich and hadn’t been living rich for too long, either. A clever, personable sales/marketing type, Curtis had enjoyed—truly enjoyed—a career bouncing around the somewhat disparate fields of fashion, consumer electronics and cosmetics. Fifteen years after taking his first job, he was rapidly approaching his professional Peter Principle pinnacle as VP Marketing of Speedbump, a small, family-run snowboard accessory company that made white-label helmets, gloves and neck-warmers for big boys like Burton and Ride to brand.
Curtis dressed and groomed and presented well, well enough to be noticed in a crowd, and knew how to draw a sizable one with his good-natured schmoozing; schmoozing that spilled out of his mouth effortlessly in a breathless, punctuation-be-damned clip. While women didn’t mind him, he was far from what one would complimentary call a ladies’ man; he was a guy’s guy, equally at home with the suits and the bums and every other guy category in between.
It was at Speedbump where he opportunistically intersected with a trio of these in-betweens, three uber-cool, tattooed, baggy-panted geeks in the company’s design department who turned him onto things like hardcore social networking and granular web analytics. Knowing every major mountain and board shop owner in America made Curtis the perfect evangelist for their stealth, after-hours high-tech adventure, an invisible wireless app that not only read a radio chip in practically every new ski pass issued, but could use this info to track one's every move on any snow-covered hill. This tracking led to fascinating “hey, look at me!” statistics—number of runs taken, amount of vertical feet plunged, top speed reached, and so on—which led to friendly one-upmanship competitions, mountainside bar encounters and a way to market to everybody who chose to first consult their stats and status, and then broadcast them to the world on Facebook and Twitter.
At 32, he was about a decade older than his three Speedbump cohorts when—out of boredom and on a stick-out-your-tongue dare from one of them—he decided to join their start-up venture, cheekily called SnowBalls, as adult supervision…and for a full partner’s share.
Three years later, at 35, with Snowballs swallowed up by the nation's largest winter resort operator, this share was worth a cool $4,250,000.
Oh yes, he did well. To his somewhat befuddled middle-class family, to his concentric circles of friends, to his somewhat jealous former co-workers, to the fawning local media, even to Miranda, he was seen as a shining success story. Not just any success, but a multi-millionaire.
Which he indeed was. Low multiples, but multiples of millions nonetheless. The literal descriptor of his financial status was no comfort to him, though.
Curtis considered his wealth as somewhat stifling; not enough to be classified as freedom-giving “Fuck You” money, and just enough to give him headaches.
“Fuck Me” money, he called it, because those two words, delivered in an a exasperated sigh, quite contrary to his usual demeanor, greeted his financial statements when he begrudgingly sat down to review them at this most dreaded time of the month again.
To be continued next week...