Paris vs. Sweet Potatoes
Brigitte and I are an almost sickenly perfect couple. Until we have to talk about money, that is.
I entered the job market in the nineties knowing that I was never more than one substitute teaching gig away from indigence. I have always felt that I had to scrape to keep a roof over my head and to pay the bills, and that I had to put any leftover money aside so I could afford to eat the really good cat food when I was old. I am what you might call debtophobic.
Brigitte was raised in a family where everyone but her father had died by the time she was nine. There’s not much reason to accumulate and to prepare for old age when you are pretty sure you’re not going to live to be thirty. She learned to invest in the moment, to dream big, and to make things happen now. She is what you might call debtophilic.
In our relationship, my job is to make sure that we live within our means. Or, more realistically, to live within sight of our means. Or maybe have a general sense of the direction in which our means lie.
Brigitte’s job is to maintain the quality of our lives in the face of my general anxiety disorder. She makes most of the money, manages our finances, dreams big and makes things happen, and authorizes weekly take-out food when I come home tired from work.
Before it required childcare, we had all our discussions about money in coffee shops where no objects could be thrown. As it turned out, that would have been a good idea this week, when a talk about which conference Brigitte should attend resulted in me hinting that without my intervention, our daughter’s education would be squandered on trips to Paris and Brigitte observing that my real problem is spending money on anyone other than myself.
And then somehow the discussion turned to a near physical altercation we had last week over a sweet potato I was trying to scrape into the trash. She said something like, “You keep saying there’s not enough money to take our daughter to Paris but you are always throwing away good food and there are always three unnecessary new toothbrushes in the bathroom drawer!” I was literally stunned into silence, she looked at me, and then she threw her head back and laughed.
When you find someone able to laugh at herself in a moment like this, you go ahead and award one more point to Humanity on her behalf.
The Apocalypse: 26