10 Things Everyone Says You Have To Have, But You Don't

by Michael Musto

Whenever someone starts screeching "How can you not have [so-and-so]? You have to get it!" I start yelling back, "No, I don't. But you have to get out of my face!" Here are the 10 supposed essentials that one could easily live without.

Premium channels
"You have to have HBO" sounded the cry in the 1990s and beyond, when life without Sex and the City or The Sopranos seemed absolutely unthinkable. But the more people screamed that into my ear, the more resolutely I stuck to my guns and simply stayed with basic cable. It helped that as a press person, I sometimes got invited to season premiere events for those shows, so I saw those episodes, complete with a free buffet. But there was also the chance to see them at friends' houses, or to not see them at all. Either way, I didn't see the urgency. And I lived!

Again, it is not at all essential to have this feature. I don't need to ask my set for everything with Sandra Bullock that will air and then proceed to obsessively tape every one of them. I can just play it by ear! And believe it or not, I have an old-school combination VCR/DVD payer, which can tape things off the tube when I feel the urge. It still works, and as a result, I save at least, um, six bucks a month.

An iPhone
I have no idea what features this thing is capable of, but I'm sure it's absolutely marvelous. I'm also certain, however, that I can keep going with my old flip cell phone and manage to get by! No, I don't even have Internet on it, but I can wait till I get home to get my emails--and besides, I can ultimately get Internet on it if I so decide. The result of my delightfully spare contraption is the cheapest cell phone bill in the world--in fact, the cheapest any kind of bill. And I'm fine, thank you.

Tickets to the latest interactive show
"You have to see Tony n' Tina's Wedding, Sleep No More, and Fuerza Bruta" drone the theater nightmares, as if it's illegal to avoid these "must-see" immersive experiences. The reality is, I like to just sit down and be entertained, OK? I don't want actors pulling me down a hallway to spout inanities, water-filled balloons dropping on me from the ceiling, or scenes moving around, forcing me to make a decision as to which way to go. Faced with that quandary, I will go to the exit. And funny, there's plenty of other theater I'm able to enjoy without submitting to the interactive-psychodrama tyranny. Leave me alone!

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Frequent flyer miles
I have no use for them! Because I don't travel!

Multiple credit cards
People that have a whole deck of these often have an abusive spirit towards them, like bad parents who insist on having more and more kids. They obviously need to pile on cards to distract from the rather unsavory debt they're building on the first few. One good credit card should suffice. Stick to it, enjoy it, don't overdo it, and make sure you pay it off.

An agent
These people can get you deals, but they want money for that! And sometimes they can't even get you deals -- they just want to mooch off the jobs you've gotten for yourself. One book agent once wanted me to sign something saying he'd get a percentage of all my earnings, whether he got the jobs for me or not. That sheet of paper got ripped up quickly, as I threatened to head elsewhere. By the time my last several books came around, I made the deals myself, finding I was savvy enough to work out the details (after doing some research) while clutching onto every penny instead of my pearls.

A pet
When my turtle turned to soup, I became a rather traumatized Brooklyn child. It took me many years before I could break down and buy a bowl of fish, but when they started transitioning too, I vowed to stay away from animal roommates. They're so disappointing! Besides, the upkeep can be expensive and intrusive, especially when you have an actual life. "But they love you unconditionally," sound the cries of people urging you to get a dog, cat, or hamster. Yeah, because they're waiting for you to feed them!

A vegan diet
In my family, people eat meatballs, sausage, ziti, mozzarella and chocolate eclairs 24 hours a day and they live well into their 90s. You want to eat kale? Fine, enjoy.

A spouse
With gay marriage approved in New York State, it's made me more and more of an outcast as a confirmed bachelor for life. But it's OK! It's legal to get married, but it's not illegal to not get married. Get hitched if you want to, but allow me the pleasure of my distinctly singular state. In fact, you're all invited to the noncommitment ceremony.

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