I’ll bet you can’t think of how I spent my Friday evening. It was the most fun I’ve had in a while. Now, I know you must be picturing certain scenarios –
- The Big Guy decides to surprise me with a romantic dinner, complete with roses and copious amounts of my favourite wine
- Hanging out with my besties at the local pub, attacking the killer crab cakes and swishing them down with cold margaritas
- Having the Daughters come down and spend quality family time with us empty-nesters.
Well, you’d be wrong on all fronts. None of these happened. Yes, it did involve the Big Guy arranging for something, but alas, it was not what I was expecting in my wildest dreams.
Friday morning before leaving for work, he pecked me on the cheek and announced, “I’ve invited the best Financial Planner in the city to come tonight. Be ready at 7!”
To say that I was a bit stunned would be understating it. I positively reeled with shock.
“A Financial Planner? On a Friday night? How delightful!”
I grumbled through the entire day, but knew there was no escape. In case you are wondering why I was so upset, let me tell you a few things about myself.
Since childhood, I have this dread of numbers. Guess what, they have a fancy scientific name for my condition as well. It’s called Numerophobia. I’m not making this up, go check on Google.
So anything to do with numbers activates the pain centre in my brain and the consequences include sweaty palms, rapid heart rate and dry throat. When percentage points begin their complicated routines, stress hormones rivalling Usain Bolt, race through my body. Tears wait impatiently under my eyes. When the calculations start to unravel, the dam bursts easily. Hey, I have a condition – some sympathy would be nice!
When I finished school and was out of the clutches of those strict nuns, I felt only a great relief. Angry-looking Sister Placidia (irony personified in her name, you notice) with her red pen, had haunted my waking hours and dreams all through school. But in college, I began to really enjoy learning. I discovered what I was good at, and performed very well. Language, literature, history – they opened up a garden of intellectual pleasures for me.
So, numbers and I don’t get along even today. Talk about money embarrasses me. Taxes, investments and mutual funds leave me shivering. Early on in our courtship, the Big Guy and I had recognized our strengths and weaknesses. Just as I did not expect him to appreciate James Joyce’s stream of consciousness, he would not expect me to trade currencies on the market.
But now, we are in this ‘middle age’ stage of life, and he gets all sanctimonious at times. Apparently I should be taking an interest in financial matters now. Meet with a lawyer, draw up a will etc. You get the picture. Thus the Financial Planner.
The tall bespectacled person turns up with a bursting briefcase and though I attempt to sidle away, in the interests of civility I am forced to offer him tea. Actually, I did have an ulterior motive here. My thinking was, “If I offer him a cup of my precious Lopchu tea, he may excuse me from sitting at the table!”
He fixed me with a glare when I attempted to explain, “My husband does all the financial planning. So I’m…”
“What happens if he dies? Do you know what to do?”
I felt like a sledge hammer had hit me in the stomach.
Charming talk on a Friday evening. Miserably, I sat down at the table without another word. He handed me a questionnaire.
“Fill this in, please. I’ll have to make some kind of plan on how to tackle this…. situation,” he sighed weightily. I grew more and more conscious of my wicked ways. With a shrill ringing in my ears, I attempted to answer. With mounting horror I saw that all my questions would be answered with ‘No’ or ‘Unsure’. The questions were such, what could I do?
The next part was worse. I handed him the questionnaire with a trembling hand. His lips tightened as he flicked through the pages. His brows lowered in a frown. At last, he sighed and shook his head while I cowered in my chair.
“The only thing is to educate you. From the beginning. I see that your husband has been negligent. Luckily, we can now work together to understand the way this works. It’s not too difficult, you just have to apply yourself,” he continued.
And I was back in pigtails, hurtling screaming through the years backward into Sister Placidia’s classroom….