Nagging, Part 2
-- See Nagging, Part 1 here
Very frankly, two things have nearly wrecked our marriage: a home freezer and the checking account.
As for the checking account, it's simply a little thing about being "neat." The first year we were married, we opened our first checking account. My first entries looked like the work of a monastery monk. They were bold and black, lettered evenly, and stood out in complete legibility.
As the months wore on, I began to scribble, abbreviate, and write notes in the margin. Then I would rearrange deposits and dates with bent arrows. Finally, my husband said one day, "I am going to start you in a nice new bank tomorrow. Would you like that? Your checks will start with No. 1 again and your ledger will be spanking clean."
The next bank was the same story, only they had no sense of humor for my notes attached to the checks. ("Luvie, hang on to this one until Monday. Our new money isn't dry yet.") We pushed on to another bank and another account.
In time, I began to shop for banks like a new home owner. I can tell you in a flash which banks have dry inkwells, which ones sell bookends, and which ones flaunt lollipop trees and pastel checks. At one establishment I received a nasty note advising me to sign my name the way I signed it on the records. My husband was visibly annoyed with me. "How did you sign your name originally?" he queried.
"Alf Landon," I said. He collapsed in a chair and it served him right for doubting me.
Another time they became quite oral about the omission of my account number. There followed another inquisition. "Well, what number did you use?" I tried to remember. "I think it was my social security number . . . or my oil company number . . . or my swimming club number . . . or was it my record club?"
Things did go a little better when my husband figured out my checkbook abbreviations. For example, NS beside an entry meant "No Stamp" to mail the check. Thus that check would be re-entered as a deposit and added on to the total. An OOB meant "Out of Balance" and was the amount the bank and I differed. Thus, a subtraction and we began even again.
FB was entered when the item was so frivolous and ridiculous I knew he'd raise the roof if he knew. It stood for "Fringe Benefits." Others took some explanation. "What's this entry for Nursery - seventy-one dollars? We haven't had a baby in eight years," he growled.
"Geraniums," I said.
"Seventy-one dollars worth of geraniums!"
"Oh, of course not, ninny, that bill was for seventeen dollars. I made a mistake and transposed the numbers and I had to record the check like I wrote it. I only subtracted seventeen dollars though because the nursery wouldn't cash a check for seventy-one dollars. No one buys that many geraniums." We were overdrawn and moved on to another bank.
To date, I have been in more banks than Jesse James. But I figure if my husband wanted a financial giant, he should have shopped a little longer and not snatched the first skirt to come down the pike.
- Erma Bombeck, At Wit's End, Nelson Doubleday, Inc., 1965