It’s taken me about 50 years, but my bracing brand of juvenile candor is finally beginning to resonate with responsible adults.
I know this because this week I had successful outcomes at three potentially stressful meetings involving accountants, bankers and school officials.
I think a part of it is because I’m no longer even tempted to respond to difficult questions with bedrock lies like, “I didn’t do it,” “It’s not my fault,” “And, no, I’m not Chris Rodell. I’m Tris Rodell.”
Now, I just blurt out whatever the hell I think is at that very moment my version of the truth.
It’s how I got into an argument with my accountant about why my new pillow should count as a legitimate business deduction. My taxes looked to her like so much baroque art — vibrant, grand, but lacking elemental focus — she had us apply for an extension.
“You can’t as a business expense deduct a pillow!”
If I wrote about the pillow, and I did, then it is indeed a business expense. And I may one day write a book about the the history of pillows. So it’s research.
“Okay, but I’m not letting you deduct mileage for driving your kids to their swim meets. There’s no way anyone would consider that a business expense.”
Clearly, she’d been too busy tallying doctored receipts to read my blog.
I’ve written many angry screeds about how much I despise attending my daughters’ swim meets.
“In fact,” I said, “I might call my very next book, ‘What I Hate about Swim Meets & How a Really Good Pillow Helps Get Me Through ‘em.’”
Brace yourself, Uncle Sam. She eventually agreed.
It was the same way with the school official who I misheard when she asked if I’d ever abused boys.
“Oh, sure,” I admitted. “I used to do it all the time. Never alone. That’s no fun. It was always with a bunch of giggle buddies.”
My answer left her aghast. She asked where I’d done it.
“Usually, right there on my bar stool, but sometimes on a golf course or at a Pirate game. Really, I’d do it any place I thought I could get away with it. It goes back to Ohio University where that kind of abuse was a big part of college life.”
Her face grew pale and I sensed we were talking about different topics. Turns out I’d had misheard her.
I thought she’d asked if I’d ever abused booze.
I assured her I’d never abuse boys. Or girls. I adore and nurture children, even ones whose parents I know are either mean or moronic.
It’s that time of year when me and my worms are again summoned to the local elementary school to talk about recycling, and there was a question of whether I’d need a document proving I’d never been convicted of abuse.
After she’d resumed breathing, I told the woman she had it backwards. I shouldn’t need a document stating I wouldn’t abuse their 3rd graders.
She should present me a document stating 3rd graders wouldn’t abuse my worms.
It all got cleared up. Turns out procedural documents for wormy visits like mine are unnecessary.
It’s not that way at the bank. I’d gone there to apply for a home equity loan.
I think many blog readers believe my incessant whining about being broke — being “Eight Days To Amish” — is schtick. It is not.
My belief that better days are about to dawn is coinciding with some of the darkest realities of my entire career.
I believe this indomitable spirit in the face of real adversity is one of my greatest attributes. I understand this while simultaneously recognizing that’s the very reason you should rejoice I’m not your spouse.
So why should the bank loan me money?
Due to youthful responsibility, diligence and some fondly remembered real income, Val and I do own our home. That’s a considerable asset.
And the lucrative success I’ve had at speaking engagements over the past year isn’t a fluke.
It’s just a beginning.
But I think the reason approval is pending is because I blurted out a line that’s probably never been uttered in any bank office where a near-destitute applicant was seeking a loan.
Why should they loan me money?
“Because I simply can’t believe it’s all part of God’s plan for me to be broke forever.”
The loan officer smiled and she began to nod.
He may not have much money but, man, the kid’s got balls.
It’s just how I roll.
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