20 levels of knowing just how broke you are

A few weeks ago an ex-Facebook friend told me she was she was super broke and about to be homeless. I sent her 200 dollars and asked if she was broke enough to sleep with a stranger for money. She said not quite but close. That got me to thinking about different levels of broke. Think you could fill in the missing categories,

I liked this idea so I found 20 levels in all.

Level 20: “Little Kid Broke”
An underrated broke, because little kids can’t pay for anything, and they know this, though when you bring it up to them, they react like you just gave them a cheap shot. I’ve had at least 10 moments with my daughter the past year when she wanted something — a DVD, an ice cream, a pretzel at a game, whatever — when I said no, and she kept pushing it, and we always have this exchange:
— Me: “Why don’t you pay for it with your money?”
— Her (slightly pissed): “Daddy, I don’t HAVE any money.”

Level 19: “‘Real World’ Broke”
Every couple of seasons, one of the cast members pretends to be broke and MTV makes it either a storyline or the main focus of an episode. We feel bad for them. Two episodes later, they’re buying rounds of shots or joining the crew for dinner at some upscale sushi place. Wait, I thought you were broke? And how have we made it through 20 years of “Real World” seasons without seeing a cast member working three jobs to make ends meet and basically not being involved in any storyline because they can’t ever go out? MTV gives these kids extra cash during the season so they party more. I’m convinced.

Level 18: “College Kid Broke”
The best kind of broke, because you’re sharing the experience with your peers, and somehow it always seems to work out. You can go out with $15 and somehow end up having 15 drinks, two shots and splitting a pizza at 3 in the morning, then you wake up the next day and you have $12 in your wallet. Huh? College is like the island in “Lost” — things happen that can’t be explained, there are different ethnic groups of people with whom you uneasily co-exist, you’re living in close quarters with a bunch of people who eventually drive you crazy, you can’t find a good toilet, you don’t appreciate being there until you’re gone (then you want to go back), and there might even be some time-traveling.

Level 17: “Vegas Broke”
This can go one of two ways. In version one, you had a self-imposed worst-case scenario for losing money (say, $700) that you already hit, only it’s Saturday night and all your buddies are going to be gambling for a few more hours, so you either have to hover behind them at a blackjack table and live vicariously through them In version two, you run out of money and want to keep gambling but you can’t take out more money until midnight because you already maxed out your $500 ATM limit. Vegas Broke is temporary but uber-cruel.

Level 16: “Wedding Cash Bar Broke”
The cousin of Vegas Broke: If you have a cash bar at your wedding, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re broke, but at the very least it means that the wedding practically bankrupted you. I wish there was a rule that all weddings had to have a cash bar — this way people who have to have a cash bar don’t feel bad about it.

Level 15: “Chasing Your Dream Broke”
You graduated from college, you’re on your own, you’re still idealistic, you don’t have any money, but you’re convinced you’re working toward something great … so everything’s going to be OK. HBO’s “How To Make It In America” does a nice job of capturing this level. That’s the main reason I like the show.

Level 14: “Moving Back Home Broke”
The main reason they make shows like “How To Make It In America” and not “They Didn’t Make It In America and Now They’re Living in Their Old Bedrooms Again.”

Level 13: “Celebrity Reality Show Broke”
Now we’re starting to hit rock-bottom. It like the elephant graveyard where old entertainers go to die.

Level 12: “Leaking Your Own Celebrity Sex Tape Broke.”
Yup, we’ve fallen off a cliff didn’t we

Level 11: “Bogus Lawsuit Broke” and “Insurance Fraud Broke” (tie)
For instance, you get rear-ended in your car, then you fake a neck injury for the insurance claim because you’re broke. You know it’s gonna lead to bad karma. You know it. You do it, anyway. You need the money. You’re broke lENNY dYKSTRA .

Level 10: “Scratch Card Broke”
You’re broke, yet that doesn’t stop you from buying $50 worth of scratch cards twice a week.

Level 9: “Pawn Shop Broke”
Not quite as bad as …

Level 8: “Putting a Championship Ring, Emmy or Oscar on eBay Broke”
Is there a more depressing thing you can do?

Level 7: “Hollywood Broke”
Same as the previous level, except everyone is trying to figure out how you went broke when you made more than $100 million.

Level 6: “Going Into Porn Broke”
Although it’s not as bad as …

Level 5: “Coming Back To Porn Even Though You Already Retired Broke”
Or …

Level 4: “John Holmes Going Into Gay Porn Broke”
I never knew about this until his “E! True Hollywood Story.” Basically, John Holmes was the Babe Ruth of porn actors. During the early 1980s, he developed a bad coke habit, went to jail for contempt of court during the Wonderland murders investigation, lost his career and ended up dabbling in gay porn to make ends meet. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But this was like MJ playing for the Wizards multiplied by a million.

Level 3: “Sleep With a Stranger for Money Broke”
As explained above. Although it’s not quite as bad as …

Level 2: “Robbing a Liquor Store Broke or a Macdonalds”
Or …

Level 1: “Robbing a Drug Dealer Broke”
Like robbing a liquor store, but with more danger and desperation. It just can’t get worse


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