Thursday, September 29, 2011

In which Primo and I argue about whose parents have the right attitude about money

This is why pre-marital counseling is important. Because they make you TALK ABOUT THE MONEY. When you don't talk about the money, you marry someone and then find out that she hasn't filed a tax return for years. Or that she has never gotten a social security number for her younger daughter. Who is ten. Or that she really doesn't make any money at her allegedly fancy job. But now it's too late. You're married and you're stuck with her, even though if you had known these things, you might not have married her.

I'm not talking about Primo and me, by the way.

But you probably figured that out.

Well anyway. I don't remember exactly when this happened, but Sly and Doris' CD player breaks. Fortunately, for them, we have an abundance of CD/DVD players at our house. More CD/DVD players than we have TVs or stereos (but not as many as we have remotes) so Primo mails the extra player to them.

"Are they going to pay for the shipping?" I ask.

"Why does it matter?" Primo responds.

"Because it cost twenty dollars to send that thing."

"That's nothing," he says.

"It's not nothing to me," I say. I, who paid for my own college through scholarships, loans, and working 60 hours a week in the summer and 20 hours a week during the school year because my parents did not have the money. I, who took my lunch to work most of my career because spending $5 or $7 or $10 to go out was wasteful when I could spend $1 to make my own.

Primo says I was poor when I was a kid, but I disagree. We lived just fine, but just didn't have luxuries, like going out to eat. His parents had the money to pay for his college. He worked, but he worked for beer money.

Consequently, we have very different ideas about money.

When my mom and Dr J were here for our wedding, Dr J forgot some clothes in the guest room closet. My mom asked me to send them to her house. When she sent me money for my birthday a month later, she included $6.73 to cover the shipping for Dr J's stuff.

"That's just silly," Primo said.

"Perhaps," I answered, "but my mother would never presume to spend our money."

My mother is the not penniless but needs to be careful widow on a very fixed income and Sly and Doris are the comfortable pensioned retirees who can afford cable, a gardener, a maid, booze*, frequent eating out, and the private school tuition** for one of their grandchildren.

It is my mother to whom it occurs that perhaps Primo and I are not made of money.

And it is Sly and Doris who assume that of course we have money to throw at them.

Which we do not.

And even if we did, that is not how I would want to spend my money.

* A lot.

** OK, they are helping with the tuition.