Playing God on a Budget

While some of us may have been born into wealth and power, and even fewer of us may claw our way up the ladder to it, the rest of us have to get by with what little material success we’ve scraped together. So, how does one feel better about their station? By applying their arbitrary rules to some self-made underling, usually children.

But, children are expensive. They eat, they break things and they refuse to get a job to pay for either. And of those who do work? Even renting children as actors costs millions of dollars once they get their SAG card.

That’s why I’ve come up with this list of non-children to homeschool into your own slightly-less-than-divine image.


Pets are like children, only they eat from the floor and keep their dating casual.

And, the more advanced they are, the more like children they become, whether it’s avoiding bath time, vomiting on your best stuff or crying way more than necessary during annual shots.

That’s not to say that pets don’t have their costs. Dogs and cats still eat like children with their heavily processed foods that resemble baby food or Kids’ Cuisine. And the only ones that work usually do jobs like help blind people or find landmines, so they have that to lord over you.

But, there’s one pet that’s cheap and never leaves its playpen, not even to poop: fish.

Just about everything about fish is cheap: them, their food, their home. And the best part? You shape their entire world.

You decide who lives in your shiny aquarium on an obsolete (thanks to flat panel) TV stand. And if their world turns to shit? You can add non-union sanitation workers like algae-eaters and catfish. Even their environment is all up to you. Tired of looking at them? Add some rocks and fake plants. Suffering from crippling abandonment issues and need someone constant in your life? Leave the tank bare so they can never hide from your love.


Gardening is sort of like having an aquarium, only you don’t have to lure strangers into your home with pornography to show it off.

And, talk about child-replacements: gardening was practically invented by barren uteruses for barren uteruses. Just take a gander at your typical gardening magazine:

Like a Bob Ross painting, you make all the big decisions in your little world. Happy trees, happy ferns, clinically-depressed tomatoes that are happy again thanks to medication – it’s all happy, happy, happy! They even give you an excuse to talk to yourself because the carbon dioxide is good for them.

Picture Frames

Picture frame manufacturers found themselves in a pickle because only people with actual families and friends had pictures to frame. (Except photographers, but they have all those stolen souls to keep them company between feedings.) Fortunately, marketing saved the day.

Now when you buy a frame, it already comes with a picture of an imaginary friend who happens to look like the model from the L.L. Bean catalog. Even if you have pictures of loved ones, they’re likely unable to compete with that Kennedy-esque level of handsomeness.

Spread them around and invent their lives. You can even make yourself the Mary Sue of their stories without resorting to embarrassing details like how you were the first time traveler admitted into Starfleet or New Jerseyan at Hogwarts.

And, unlike children, pets, or gardens, nobody is the wiser to your loneliness … unless they happen to own the same frame, and admitting that would out themselves.

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2 thoughts on “Playing God on a Budget”

  1. And I thought my dog humped anything that moved! If you are really budget conscious skip the dogs and cats as their medical bills and/or insurance is still up there. Fish are good and no mess when it comes time to say goodbye. A simple flush will do it. Always liked the neat tie up of loose ends with them.

    1. A little butter and garlic works, too, when it comes to disposing of dead fish. Aquarium fish are small enough that you don’t even have to de-bone them.

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