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). 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 bucket seats, air, and cruise. For Dad, it was a reliable, economical, not too old transportation with good tires. I bought it for her.
The car did was it was intended to do. It took her through the first 3 three years of college. She got in a collision on a trip to take in a concert 250 miles away. A band that I would cross the street to see. The damage wasn’t TOO bad, although nothing that happens to a car is cheap. I knew the car was good otherwise, so I sent it to a body shop car for repairs. She drove it for a year after that. So my initial investment in the car was $4000, and I had just put another $1200 to the body man. Total so far was $5200.
By that time, daughter 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, that she had made a deal to sell the car to her brother. (My son.) Now I had to buy the car that I had paid for in the first place. Nobody but Dads can understand this.
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 it 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 FROM her.
When I initially paid $4000 to a private owner for that car, I wanted to do the right thing, so I paid her $2500. Wouldn’t you know it, that was the exact amount that Mom had to get for her company car. With the two cars (that I paid for twice), and let’s not forget the $1200 for the repairs for the body man, I was now in for $7700 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 it 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 $10,200 in that car. But at least it is setting in my driveway now.
Bathsheba, my stepdaughter, now needs a car. Reluctantly, 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 it is dented, faded, old, and has a standard transmission. (My, how times have changed.)
Bathsheba has no threshold for inconvenience. I didn’t need an extra car in my driveway, but now I was scared to let it go. By that time I had $10,200 invested in a $1400 car. Each came it came back to me it cost me money. (But the car ran like a top.)
The man I bought from said that it was his wife’s car and his daughter got it when the wife bought a new car. So by that time, it had gone thru four owners, and cosmetically it needed a “facelift.” 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 that much money in already for her lessons. Besides that car was in the body shop and the meter was running again. So, Bathsheba had to use an 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 wholehearted agree with her, on any given road where was traffic, Bathsheba would be danger.
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 $11,457.00 (And I am not counting the insurance that I paid for eight years.)
Well, there you have it folks. That is just one of the reasons why my financial condition is as stable and a unicycle on a high wire during an earthquake. My wife says that I 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.
I got called away from a nice dinner at a great restaurant to take a phone call. It was from Bathsheba and she was in tears. She had wrapped the little red car around a telephone pole. I am too scared to fix it.