Mrs C lifted a glass bottle, motioned toward me, and said “It’s been hundreds of months since I could truly say I’m happy like I can now.”
And it’s not because she has a new car. She does, by the way. 16 years after she bought her first-ever new car – a black 2004 Honda Civic EX Sedan – she bought her second-ever new car – a black 2020 Honda Civic EX Sedan. Don’t laugh; Tom benefits greatly from the idea that Mrs C has a consistency in her partialities. And, to be honest, she didn’t even really want a new car. I wanted one for her. “But you’ve only had the Limited Edition Star Wars Nissan Rogue One for three years,” she said, “You deserve the next new car!”
No, Mrs C. It’s your turn.
I want her in something newer, more reliable. Truth be told I wanted the Limited Edition Star Wars Nissan Rogue One for her, too. I figured I’d drive it a bit, she’d see all the new gadgets and features of newer cars, she’d get imperial-army envy, and she’d drive the Limited Edition Star Wars Nissan Rogue One for 15 years. Nope. She likes small, supery-maneuverable autos, like the 2004 Honda Civic EX Sedan she was used to.
The Limited Edition Star Wars Nissan Rogue One goes back to the dealer at the end of the lease, in two weeks or sooner. We bought the 2020 Honda Civic EX Sedan on Wednesday. This is Saturday. In three days, Mrs C has driven the 2004 Honda Civic EX Sedan 5 times and the 2020 Honda Civic EX Sedan a total of none. Change is hard.
She loves the new car. I am fully confident that in the coming days, weeks and decades she’ll get used to it, it will not intimidate her, and I will finally have my dream car – a 2004 Honda Civic EX Sedan with 145,000 miles on it and a hella bumpin’ stereo. Kidding, not my dream car. But I am inheriting it once she gets her gumptions up about the new one. Take your time, Mrs C. Take your time.
What’s that? Yes, I could buy the Limited Edition Star Wars Nissan Rogue One from the dealer instead of turning it back in, and yes we could afford a second new(er) car if we really wanted one. But why? In 36 months I put a total of 15,000 miles on the Limited Edition Star Wars Nissan Rogue One. What?! Yes. I don’t drive that much. We don’t drive that much. We love home. A lot. So, the only reason to ever have two car payments is to decorate the garage. It does look pretty, by the way, having two new cars in the garage. But is it $700/month pretty? It’s barely $350/month pretty, to be honest, but I like to have at least one set of supery-reliable wheels. And I do like that new rubber smell in there.
But I don’t need two new cars. One will do just fine. And it’s for Mrs C.
But that isn’t why Mrs C raised her glass to me and told me she was, finally, happy. And it’s not because we are finally a bazillion dollars ahead in our finances, or that we just got further ahead by refinancing the greatest house on earth (saving $500/month, or about 1 ½ new car payments). She doesn’t pay attention to our finances. Never has. I handle all the money because she doesn’t want to be bothered, which I’m good with. I’m a numbers guy. Some mornings I’ll spend an hour, hour-and-a-half perfecting my nearly perfect budget spreadsheet (again) because it’s fun. And you all thought I was just a geeky wordsmith. I’m also a geeky math guy. Von Wowern would call me a polymath. I’d call him “Yo.”
No, the reason Mrs C is so happy these days is because she has been, this month, one year at the bank. Mrs C has been in jewelry sales, warehouse, casino, motorcycle sales, appliance sales, electronic sales, furniture sales, sales management and even, briefly, worked in a bookstore. Except for that summer at the college bookstore and the warehouse work – and maybe the casino for a while – she’s hated every single job. Hate is such a strong word, but I’m gonna use it, because she has hated every single job. Not the job itself, I should say, but the people and the ridiculous pressure. If you’ve ever worked retail sales for a corporate entity you know what I mean:
“Mrs C, you just broke 7 different company records for sales in a quarter! However, the 8th category we rate every salesperson on was mediocre, so your entire quarter was crap. No raise. In fact, you’re lucky we don’t dock you pay for failing to be as outstanding in 12.5% of your job as you are in the other 87.5%. Also, we believe you practice witchcraft.”
Don’t laugh. The last place she worked actually believed she practiced witchcraft. She likes the color black, they said. Wears crystals. Doesn’t believe in God. And all the customers really, really like her so she must be casting charm spells on them. This. Came. Up.
She even considered retaliatory litigation, to be honest.
But she let that water flow under the bridge when she got her new job, a year ago this week. At a bank, but not a branch. Working in the hub, with numbers, in finance stuff with computers, amidst a group of extremely friendly people who all scream “Mrs C!” when she walks in a room, like Norm on Cheers. It turns out she’s really good with numbers, too, as well as being good with people, an incredible cook, smart as a whip, honest to a fault, and extraordinarily beautiful. During the Renaissance they would have called her a polymath. In the Medieval days she would have been considered a witch.
“Fuck ‘em,” she would have said.
“I’m happy now.” 🖕🍻