The minute my husband and I start doing it, I realize it’s a very bad idea.
But that doesn’t mean we stop. Oh, no. We just keep on dumping receipts and forms and bank statements all over every surface in our tiny rented living room. We are participating in an annual drill we both loathe — getting our tax materials together. Neither of us is what you would call a detail person. No, siree, we go for the broad brush, the grand sweep, the outsized gesture. Details and decimal points make us catatonic.
Tax season is traditionally the low point of our marital satisfaction index every year. If neither of us commits a violent felony against the other at tax time, we call it a raging success.
This year is even more fraught, though, since we have complications because of our temporary tenure in New York. Not only that — but we are attempting to sort through the annual detritus of our lives during the Super Bowl. There’s a reason for this: I like the Saints a lot, but I’m sure they won’t win. Peyton Manning is invincible, I’ve read. So is the Indianapolis coach, who told one of the sports anchors he is even calmer than he appears; since he has done his work, he said, there won’t be any surprises. Oh barf. If there’s anything I hate, it’s that kind of cocky self-assurance. I prefer people with low self-esteem. Like me, say.
I have no idea who’s even rooting for the Colts. I don’t think I even know anybody from Indiana, for God’s sake. The whole world, as far as I can tell, is rooting for New Orleans. Why not? New Orleans has the glamour, the tragedy, the intoxicating accents, the succulent food, the spirit, the music, Confederacy of Dunces, and a quarterback named Drew Brees, who’s from Austin. The Colts, in contrast, have no bluesy back story, no hilarious novel, no epic natural disasters. All they have is invincibility and cocky self-assurance — and I know enough about football and life to realize that’s almost always a winning combination.
So, no wonder we’re trying to start our taxes at the same time; it’s going to be a miserable rout, anyway. Why not go ahead and suffer it full throttle in one hideous night.
We thrash through papers and snap at each other, with the TV blaring in the background. I get irritated by how good the Colts look and by all the repugnant, sexist beer commercials (to make beer look good, evidently, you have to make women look bad). My husband says some of the beer commercials make men look like idiots, too, but I don’t buy it. I announce I am going to boycott Budweiser, even though I never drank it in the first place. I have principles. I won’t drink beer brewed by assholes.
Second half comes and our living room looks like a blizzard of white papers — but who cares about that? We forget our taxes and watch a thrilling game. For once, the team with soul and spirit and bum luck, steeped in floodwaters and wailing saxophones and the blues, wins. We see footage of Bourbon Street erupting in joy and for one instant, I could swear my husband and I are surrounded by sheets of dazzling white confetti streaming through the air. Tomorrow, they’ll be depressing W-4 forms once again, but tonight, they’re practically festive.
(Copyright 2010 by Ruth Pennebaker)
Read one of my favorite posts about how to pick a quarterback