There are people who treat budgeting like guys treat going to the doctor—it’s not serious until they slip in all the blood. My wife isn’t one of those people. She treats budgeting like she was the doctor, specifically, a proctologist.
Therefore our household runs successfully and happily—I stress that, happily—on 42 cents a month. That’s not what’s left over, the 42 cents is what our budget allows us to spend. It gets kind of tricky at the grocery store.
There is, she’s found, an inexpensive way to get through life. The occasional coupon is nice, as are yard sales, auctions, pawnshops, the 30-minute pizza delivery rule (especially if you’ve given your neighbor’s address then claim you didn’t), regifting, and watching movies by peeping through people’s windows.
OK, so she’s not like that at all, except the coupons, yard sales, auctions, pawnshops, and regifting. I won’t let her read the rest of this, she might get ideas.
But, as much money as she saves buying expired canned goods and bulk asparagus, I’m right now putting a stop to one of her money-saving practices—haircuts.
“I need a haircut,” I said one day—out loud, apparently after experiencing a head injury that made me forget Husband Rule No. 1: Don’t talk, ever—ever. Nodding and mumbling are good enough to get you through most situations in life. “You think you can do it?”
There are only four types of haircuts in our family:
1) My two-year-old daughter’s haircut, which is imaginary. My wife is content to allow my little girl to look like a Sasquatch when she wakes up because cutting her hair would be against some religious tenet I’m not familiar with. I can’t tell you what my daughter looks like, only that I’m sure she’s cute.
2) My four-year-old son’s, who goes to a stylist and gets the kind of haircut girls on The CW programs would squeal over.
3) My wife’s. I can’t complain. No, seriously, I can’t and won’t complain. I’m not that stupid.
“Sure. I can do it,” she said and, much like a teenage girl at a “Twilight” movie, I cried like a baby. And that was before she started. After the first cut, things got worse; I cried like a Frenchman.
At first glance, the sheep shears (picked up no doubt at a Mennonite garage sale, or barn sale, or wagon sale, or whatever) did a pretty nice job. Oh, sure, I don’t think I’d have gotten a blue ribbon at the fair, but the haircut was passable. My hair was short—really short—but that was fine. And … then I noticed the rest. Damn those mirrors.
“Aaaaaaaaaa,” I screamed.
The area around my ears looked a lot like a European map during a war, and not a particularly popular war at that.
“What’s wrong?” my wife asked in a way that sounded like she had no idea one side of my head was completely bald whereas the other side had a smiley face cut into it.
“Oh, yeah. I hoped you wouldn’t see that,” she said. “But it’s OK. Those spots are on the side of your head.”
Well, I thought. (I wasn’t going to say anything out loud. She was still holding a sharp object.) Some people are going to look at the side of my head and ask what punk band I’m in. Maybe I should tell them “The Screaming Wussies.”
Early in our relationship—before the marriage, before the kids, before the monthly 42-cent limit on spending—my wife wanted me to give her a nickname. Well, I did. From here on out, regardless of any improvement in hair-cutting skills, regardless of convincing me to ever let her approach me with something sharp ever again, regardless of how drunk I get, she’s not just my wife, she’s The Butcher.
At least my haircut fit into our budget. It was free.
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Jason Offutt is an award-winning humorist who also writes stuff scary enough you’ll wet your pants. You can order Jason’s books on the paranormal, “Darkness Walks: The Shadow People Among Us,” and “Haunted Missouri: A Ghostly Guide to Missouri’s Most Spirited Spots,” at jasonoffuttbooks.blogspot.com.