"We've got twelve hundred dollars! We've got twelve hundred dollars! We've got twelve hundred dollars ..." I sing, as I skip gaily around the room, my arms flailing above my head.
OK, we haven't actually RECEIVED our tax rebate. Not yet. But my government assures me that the check is in the mail, so it's happy happy, joy joy time, baby!
Until we have to decide what to do with it, of course.
As solid as my marriage seems most of the time, financial windfalls - large or small - can shake its foundation to the core.
Why? Because my husband is a spender and I am a saver. Unless you catch us on a day where I am the spender and HE is the saver.
Therein lies the rub.
They say opposites attract and - trust me - we have no problem in the yin and yang department. I'm the messy one; he is neat. I drink wine; he prefers beer. He fills his idle time by puttering around the house; I'm content to veg out with Bravo. I replace my wardrobe every three to five years; he still wears shirts he's had since 1985. I get positively tingly when there's a free gift at the Clinique counter; he flips out over 10-cent chicken wings.
We are firmly set in our roles, our differences as predictable as tornado warnings in May.
But when it comes to unanticipated money, we meld inexplicably into "good cop/bad cop" mode. And there's no telling who's good and who's bad at any given moment. Consider, for example, our recent "what to do with our rebate money" exchange:
"Let's just sock it away for a rainy day," I said.
"OK, but AFTER we go out for a nice meal," he replied. "Then we can go look at that new mower I told you about."
"No, it all goes in the bank," I countered. "UNLESS we want to revisit the new washer-dryer discussion ..."
"Maybe you're right, let's sock it away," he answered, defensively. And then, "But the whole point of the rebate is to put the money back into the economy, right?"
"Exactly. Which is why a new patio set would be the patriotic thing to do," I suggested while visualizing our first al fresco dinner of the season.
"But our old patio set is fine," he snapped back. "Let's just put the money in a CD."
Spend, save, spend, save, spend, save? Is this the conversation that will be played out across the country this summer? Will millions of rebate dollars end up in the eager hands of America's marriage counselors? I'm fairly sure this is not what President Bush had in mind.
"All right. I guess it's just as patriotic to save for the future," I relented.
"Yeah, but think of how patriotic AND eco-responsible it would be to buy those new golf clubs I've been wanting."
"Wha---?? How in the world would golf clubs be eco-responsible?!?" I asked.
"Because I always walk and take a pull cart. And if I had new clubs, I'd play more golf, thus allowing less carbon into the air because I'd be replacing the guy that plays with a gas-powered cart." He sat back in his chair, blissfully ignorant of the illogicality of his reasoning. (Or was it the most brilliant argument ever?)
"I KNOW!" I squealed. "Let's put the whole wad down on Powerball tickets!"
"Are you NUTS!?" he cried.
"No, really! Do the math: Twelve hundred tickets with twelve hundred different number combinations. We'll at least win our money back, right?" The possibilities were too much to bear. I flew to the computer and looked up the official Powerball odds.
Unfortunately, the math proved to reduce the odds of winning a significant jackpot by only a fraction.
"OK, bad idea," I admitted, reluctantly.
I was starting to visualize that $1,200 check, pinned by a fuzzy magnet to our refrigerator door for the next two years.
"When are we supposed to get the money, anyway?" he asked.
"Probably not until June. They're mailing them out according to the last two numbers of your social, which is in the 60s."
"So we've got some time to decide then," he said.
"Yeah," I sighed. "We've got time."
A hush fell over the room as we contemplated another month of the great rebate debate.
"It's wing night at that place downtown," he said, brightly.
"OK, but let's stop by the Clinique counter on the way."