By Sugar Mama
My husband and I hunkered down the other morning to work on The Annual Budget, which is just foreplay for The Annual Fight. Why we do this every year when our fixed costs never change, I’ll never know. But if it makes Joe happy to put “groceries” and “brake pads” into tiny little boxes, it’s a small price to pay to get my hair budget set in stone.
The rub usually comes when we assess the year prior. How much did we spend at the vet? What is microdermabrasion, exactly? These expenses were justifiable, I assured him. After all, our dog had accidently eaten ahypodermic needle filled with heroin and overdosed. I, who stayed up all night manning the IV to flush her into sobriety, needed a series of three or four pigment pick-me-ups, and she, a spa day after such a harrowing ordeal.
We deserved it, I told him.
“Kids in Africa deserve an education … fresh water … vaccines,” Joe retorted. “Wanting and needing are two different things.”
This is what happens when you marry a monk. I discovered this many years ago while at a party playing The Newlywed Game. One of our questions was, “Describe your mate’s ideal date with you: dinner and a movie, or a night in Paris?” I crossed out both and wrote, “In the desert somewhere with an empty canvas and a can of beans.”
We laugh at our differences today, aw-shucks’ing those goofy laws of opposite attraction. But on The Annual Budget days, not so much.
“I will not be denied my sushi nights!” I’ll fire across the table. “If we need to cut back,” I’ll add, “Why don’t you dump the brake pads and take the bus for a change!”
And every year, we end up the same spreadsheet that looks nothing like the year we’re going to have. Not once have we dedicated a column to the kids’ inevitable ER visits for broken limbs or ticks in their eyeballs. Ne’er one box has been reserved for my mail-order diet scams. And that allowance for my gross overpayment of babysitters after coming home too wobbly to add correctly? Not a dime.
Yet these costs are per annum, guaranteed.
“Budgets are like looking in a mirror,” my CPA mother mused, when I presented her with our conundrum. “And most people simply put lipstick on a pig.”
So why do we lie to ourselves about what it costs to be us?
“To establish an ideal,” Joe says.
Which I guess is true. But ideally, our kids wouldn’t fall and break their arms. Ideally, our dog wouldn’t have a taste for narcotics. And I, in effort to save money, ideally wouldn’t dye my own roots for $9 only to pay $300 more for a professional to fix.
But like any good pig, I do my best to pretend I don’t stink every year. And like any good farmer, he reaps what he sows. LBM
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