Saturday, September 4, 2010
Yesterday I entertained the tax man. We'd had this thing going on, a misunderstanding. A clerical error, really. One of those situations that resulted from me entering some seemingly insignificant, yet erroneous, information on an online form which, according to the IRS is a stone tablet, so we're all going to hell. You get that this has happened before. It was basically a typo gone horribly wrong, except the more I tried to correct the mistake, the more my explanations seemed like the pathological ramblings of a woman about to be carried away on a stretcher, calling out for her 27 cats and Elvis. After months of letters and phone calls, though, the situation came to a head and the wolf was at the door.
In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit I was given a five-minute warning from my husband who called to say that Tax Man was at the greenhouse, needed to speak with me, and was on HIS WAY RIGHT NOW.
If my life were a movie, this is when the hilariously touching music montage would begin, complete with scenes of me frowning in the mirror at my bedraggled bed-head, stowing dirty dishes in the oven, shoving the children's toys in the closet and leaning up against the door to keep it shut--an act which would later result in an equally hilariously touching avalanche upon Tax Man himself, an archetypal Obstructive Bureaucrat I'd later win over with my Girl Next Door Charm.
Instead, I did what felt right at the time, which was leave the house alone and work on the bod. I took the stairs two-at-a-time and in five minutes, emerged from the bathroom with a full face of makeup. Don't judge me, I applied a Daytime Look.
I made it downstairs in time to greet them, my husband and TM, and I was quite nervous, even though I felt confident we'd be able to put this whole misunderstanding behind us. The first thing I did was offer him a place to sit, along with a glass of strawberry lemonade; then made a comment about the weather, which we could all agree on was positively disgusting. Next, I explained the reason for the kitchen being a little disheveled, how I'd been in the middle of making cookies, etc. And then, because I'm Special, I proceeded to lapse into Oversharing Mode, something I do when I'm either a) nervous or b)afraid I'm going to die, which I guess we could just lump in with the "nervous" category. I don't know why this happens, but I've learned I can't fight it. So, with the three of us in the kitchen, smack dab in the middle of a pause, I asked Mr. Tax if he'd ever seen Stranger Than Fiction, and promised that even though I was baking and he was a Tax Professional, that he shouldn't worry about me trying to win him over since I was already married.
At this point, my husband left the room to engage in some silent screaming in the loo, and the Tax Man looked like he was about to, as one author puts it, burp up a baby chick.
We sat down and dug into a pile of papers from which I was able (miraculously!) to produce the needed paperwork, letting my previous comment go untouched. My better half emerged from the bathroom, on his face a look of resignation. He married an Oversharer who loves to have company, who wants you to have cake and coffee and really anything you want in her house, but who also needs you to know that once, in second grade, she threw up all over her cake, just as she was passing it out to her classmates on her birthday. And speaking of cake, she'll say, I once bought a piece of cake from a man in the shoe department of Goodwill and you know it was just incredible--do you want his number? Poor, sweet husband. But isn't that why you fell in love with me? My human-ness, right out there for the world to see?
In the end, it was so easy: he was really gracious, and understanding, and helpful. He was the polar opposite of who I thought the Tax Man would be: fully human. Before he left, he reassured me that all would be well, and the error would be corrected as early as the next day. Then he shook my hand. I was reminded of the time I learned how certain passport agencies are able to "rush" passports through processing. Aside from the several hundred extra dollars it costs, the upgrade is really just a gesture. "You go like this", the owner of one such shop told me, and she took a file from the bottom of the stack and placed it on the top. "That's all."
One gesture. After all my paperwork ramblings, this face-to face welcome was all it took. And, of course the fact that I really didn't owe anybody anything. That always helps. Along with a couple coats of mascara. Thank you, Maybelline and thank you, Tax Man.