For as long as I can remember, I’ve hungered after a black American Express card. The Centurion. You know, the one you DEFINITELY don’t leave home without. The ultimate symbol of prestige; acknowledgement of your worth and financial might; an inarguable physical demonstration that You’ve. Made. It. Well, today I got one. Actually, two. Two brand new matt black American Express cards, sleek, smug and sexy, landed in my letter box and then sat inscrutably on my kitchen bench.
We weren’t expecting them, these dusky, seductive harbingers of luxury. They arrived, unsolicited and unannounced, from our bank. We had been, they said, such good customers over the years that they wanted to reward us (“Reward us” was the very term they used) for our loyalty and willingness to spend large sums of their money every month. No matter we always paid it back in full. No matter we hadn’t paid interest on our credit cards for more than 15 years. “Take them”, they said. “Your time is now”. No additional fees, they enticed. Same PIN number. “Too easy”, they said. Your time is NOW.
We were tempted; I admit it. Just sign the backs and activate the cards, then slip them into our wallets and feel the power. Why, we could activate them on the laptop. No need even to ring the bank. And the fees were the same, and we would get triple points for every dollar we spent, and a concierge would handle our every outrageous request without batting a well-bred eyelid. And those sleek black babies would look so damn sexy when we handed them to uninterested, eye-rolling waiters and snooty girls behind dress shop counters. Yes, we were sorely tempted.
We cut them up. Both of them. We cut them into tiny, sexy, matt black pieces. And then we flicked them into the kitchen bin to mingle with the detritus of the kids’ morning cereal.
We didn’t need them, and that was the absolute truth. Our faithful shiny silver companions had served us well for many years. Quietly and unobtrusively they fronted up at Coles four times a week; paid for the toilet paper and dog food, and made sure we had petrol and the papers when we needed them. They took us to San Francisco and Alaska last year; uncomplainingly put up with that funny, dingy, boring American money and never once refused to come out of the ATM machine as required. Those well-used and unpretentious silver cards spoke volumes about the people we had become, we realised. We didn’t need a sliver of black plastic to be important in the lives of those who loved us, or to feel a part of the community we loved living in. Those little silver guys suited us, we realised, just fine.
But I did take a photo of the sleek, sexy black babies first. Just, you might say, for the record……
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