Fiscal Voo-Doo

I don’t think that there has ever been a case of fiscal voo-doo that I have ever experienced (except when Congress is in session), and nobody but a father can understand these things.

Most dads can sympathize with me. There is a bond we share. This bond is nurtured from the roles we play in the family hierarchy. Forget about this “Man-of-the- House” nonsense, that stuff is for history books and the fiction sections of the library. We all know that our only roles in the house is to turn down the thermostats, (when nobody is looking), finance braces, listen attentively when told what to wear by wives and how to drive by a teen in the backseat who has had a learner permit for 2 weeks.

But, I digress. Allow me to get back to the original example of why I was just a natural fall-guy-putz in the budgetary debacle.

It started in the summer before my natural daughter was going off to college. What she needed was a car and not just any old heap for my daughter, After all, we’re talking about a father with his only natural daughter. We are talking about a car that starts in the cold winter and gets her safely where she needs to go and free from harm. So we shopped and shopped again, and then shopped some more. She wanted something sporty and I wanted something reliable.

We finally found the car that we both agreed upon. For her, it was a sporty little red, two-door with buckets, air, and cruise. For Dad, it was a reliable, economical, not too old transportation with good tires, Dad bought it. It cost $4000.

The car did was it was intended to do. It took her through the and 3 three years of college. By that time she was able to make an upgrade to her mother’s company car which was newer and better and Mother practically gave it to her. And she said of the little red car, she had made a deal to sell the car to her brother. (Which was my son.)

My son was tickled to get a car so reliable and knew that her sister had taken good care of it. The only problem was, my son was still in college and couldn’t afford the car. He asked: “Can you help me out Dad?’ (Translation: Will you buy for me?”)

I didn’t want my kids out on the streets or without a car on the frigid highways without reliable transportation but it also occurred to me that I had bought the car FOR my daughter, and then it FROM her. In other words, I paid for it twice. When I initially paid $4000 to someone for that car, I wanted to do the right thing, and paid her $4000 that she put on mom’s company car and she turned the car over to her brother. (A spending disaster that could get me elected to Congress.) I was now in for $8000 dollars for a car that wasn’t even parked in my driveway.

Now let us fast forward a couple of years. The car has shown some wear and tear and my son was gainfully employed and figures that he too is entitled to a better, newer car befitting his station in life. The one he had his eyes on the one parked in my very own garage.

“Dad,” he said, “your car is exactly what I need and want. I will buy it from you.”

I replied, “I am not sure I want to sell, I like that car. If you like this car so much why don’t you search the car lots for one to buy.”

“Yeah, I know, but your car is in good shape, it hasn’t been abused and you don’t know what you’re getting at a used car lot.”

“Well, that’s true . . . “

“I’ll buy from you, but I will have have to pay you over time. Can you help me out with that?”

“Well, I suppose, but since you are working and having an income, I would need a down payment. Are you prepared to give me a down payment?”

“Well, I figured you could take the little red two-door from me as a down payment.”

“But I gave that car to you in the first place . . .”

“Thanks a lot, Dad! You’re a lifesaver and I knew you would understand. Gotta go, Bye.”

OK, so now I figure I have bought the same car 3 times already. I allowed him $2500 trade in on my car. (The value at the time was about $1400, but  what can you do, he is my own kid?”) When my son drove off with my car I did the math. So far I have invested a total of $10,500 in that car. But at least it is setting in my driveway now.

Bathsheba now needs a car. I pointed to the little red two-door in the driveway. She inspected and walked around the car and acted like I had handed her a plate of dog vomit. Bathsheba said that is dented, faded, old and has a standard transmission. Bathsheba has no threshold for inconvenience. But now I was scared to let it go. I had $10,500 invested in a $1400 car. It came coming back to me and each time it cost me money.

So, I made a deal with Bathsheba, I would teach her how to drive a standard transmission and in return, I would take it to a body shop and have all the dents taken care of and would spring for a new paint job. Reluctantly she agreed.

Teaching Bathsheba to drive a standard transmission was as much fun as sticking flaming toothpicks in my eyes. Bathsheba has the ability to dispense what I call “creative misery” and her outrage and anger for almost anything are nearly gymnastic. I didn’t want to risk the car that I had $10,500 in already for her lessons, besides that car was in the body shop costing me even more money. So, I brought my old pickup truck for her lesson. Bathsheba insisted on a piece of abandoned road where no one could see her. She was as embarrassed as if I had shown up in her classroom wearing nothing but a diaper.

But I kept my part of the bargain. I had the car all sanded, all the dents pounded out, and three coats of bright red paint. It looked like a new car! Total body work: 1257.77. So now my total is $11,757.77. (And for about 8 years, I kept it insured too.)

Well, there you have it folks. That is just one of the reasons why my financial condition is a stable and a unicycle on a high wire during an earthquake. My wife says that have the financial I.Q. of egg whites. I figure I have bought and paid for that same car three times over and now I have a 13 year old car for $11,757.77.

And I got called away from a nice dinner at a great restaurant to take a phone call. Bathsheba wrapped it around a telephone pole. I am too scared to fix it.

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