I will never understand money.
It comes and goes like the Cheshire Cat and when it dissolves, it does so with a mocking grin.
Well before the end of every month, I get these calls.
“Do NOT write any checks,” my wife tells me.
“Why not?” I ask.
“We are broke.”
“How did that happen?”
“How do you think?”
“Okay, I will use my credit card instead.”
“Do NOT use your credit card!”
“Credit cards have limits,” she says, “and you do not.”
It is incomprehensible to me that I could hit something as astronomically high as a credit card limit. I never buy yachts nor sport cars nor vacation in Davos. It has been years since my last major purchase – and that was socks.
“Okay, I will use cash,” I tell her.
“Do you have any?”
I open my wallet to find two limp dollar bills trying their best to hide from me.
“A little,” I say.
“Well, it will have to last until the end of the month.”
“Uh, it is only the fifteenth.”
“Makes for a long month. doesn’t it?” she says.
It never used to be this way. I never overran the financial calendar because I knew how to manage my money. Well, that is not exactly true. It wasn’t so much managing money as it was managing temptation. I would agonize for weeks over the most modest of purchases.
So how did I come to have such extravagant debt?
For this I blame the little desires – the ones that sneak up and overwhelm you.
I blame Starbucks for their Ventis.
I blame Chipotle for their steak burritos.
I blame Walgreens for the Hershey bars near the cash register.
But mostly I blame our local bar for their craft brews.
As I lament the loss of my fortune, I grieve over how nickels and dimes have leaked from my fingertips and it is this regret that suddenly leads me realize to where my cash has gone.
It went to satisfy the insatiable desires of The Porcelain Pig. The ravenous beast who lurks in our laundry and grazes upon the change that falls freely from my pockets.
I rush into the laundry and grasp the little fiend by its throat. He thrashes about, squirming to slip free but I get the better of the fight and flip him upside down to retrieve my fortune.
An hour later, there I am at the bar driving an unruly herd of dimes, nickels and pennies toward the bartender. She sullenly accepts my offering then mutters while she pours my beer.
“What?” I ask.
“I hate the last half of the month,” she says.
Her arm unfolds in an expansive gesture that covers the line of bar stools – and there all along the bar, old retired men like myself carefully hoard their change.