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Paris vs. Sweet Potatoes

March 13, 2011

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
Humanity: 21.5

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6 Comments
  1. Oh. my. god. You just described me and my husband. I have daily panic attacks about his casual-and-constant stops for a soda and chips and one of those #1 fingers. His hourly suggestions that we just get sushi for dinner. His insistence that I get the more expensive jeans because they make it look like I have an ass. I get totally stressed out about my lack of control, since apparently this is something we have to share. Ugh. I would be the richest single person. Well, depending on how you measure your riches.

    • I hear you, Sister.

      I just hand over financial control and try to enjoy the ride. My last girlfriend and I used to discuss who paid the extra penny when bills were not evenly divisible by two and that didn’t work out either- when we broke up, I still got the shaft.

  2. elah permalink

    So…uh…..do you think I could have one of those toothbrushes? Mine fell in the cat box this morning. And I actually spent 10 minutes pondering which toxic substance I might use to wash it in where I would not obsess over a possible taste of cat waste while brushing my teeth while not poisoning myself either so as not to spend unnecessary funds on new toiletries I’m awarding 1 point to my personal apocalypse.

    • A new toothbrush has been set aside for you. Please step away from the cat box.

  3. Sounds like you two balance each other out pretty well! And how dare you throw away a sweet potato? Don’t you know you can make fries from that? Unless there were fuzzy alien life forms growing on it – then you are perfectly justified. 🙂

  4. Caro permalink

    I’m on team Brigitte on this one my dear best friend!! You are obsessed with debt. Always have been. I on the other hand am planning my fifth trip to Disney in as many years. I have no plans beyond my 70th birthday. Debt be damned.

    Oh my family is newly obsessed with the sweet potato.

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