by Scott Hollifield
The fat tax return check sat on the kitchen table holding so many possibilities.
“We can put this money toward something that benefits the whole family, such as a state-of-the-art digital sound system for my truck or one of those singing fish to hang on the wall of my office or a tribute to the immortal Hank Williams tattooed on my left bicep,” I told my wife, “or we can just blow it on bills and shoes for the kid.”
With summer coming up and the need for shoes diminishing, I felt fairly confident I could wrangle at least a singing fish out the deal.
“Let’s use part of it to get away,” my wife said. “Then we’ll talk about the fish.”
I have wisely structured our finances in such a way that the government, or “guv-munt” as we say out here where the New Deal never really caught on, takes roughly two-thirds of our money throughout the year, then returns some of it in one lump sum, making us feel as rich as a Texas Republican for a week and a half.
During the other fifty-and-a-half weeks, when Uncle Sam’s hand is deep in my pocket, the stress level can sometimes run high. That, in turn, can lead to family discussions that end with “…and the horse you rode in on.”
My wife and I sometimes try to “get away,” leave our daily stresses behind for a day or two, rejuvenate and reconnect in a spiritual way that will, perhaps, lessen the chance that one of us will stab the other with a steak knife.
“I found this beautiful bed and breakfast on the Internet,” my wife said, which surprised me because I can’t seem to find anything but naked people on the Internet. Maybe I should stop typing in “naked people.”
“It’s a turn-of-the-century Victorian home,” she said. “And it has blah, blah, blah …”
By that time, I had stopped listening and was instead wondering if I would ever get a talking fish. Perhaps I could find one on the Internet. There is apparently more there than I thought.
“…blah, blah, so we’ll do that, OK?”
“OK. Sounds like a plan,” I said, not exactly sure what I had agreed to do.
I soon found out. I would go to a stranger’s house, sleep in a stranger’s bed and eat at a stranger’s table. That is what a bed and breakfast is – a sleepover at a friend’s home, but you have no idea who your friend is.
“Hi, welcome to the Manson family home. Go on upstairs and Charles will be right up to tuck you in.”
I am accustomed to a different kind of lodging on those rare occasions when I stray from home – an ice machine down the hall, towels that smell of industrial-strength chlorine and an unobstructed view of the interstate off ramp.
The bed and breakfast, less than an hour’s drive from our house, was more personal and intimate. On the doors of the upstairs bedrooms were the names of the family members who had once occupied the rooms. Ours had belonged to a daughter, now apparently away at college, and her books and knickknacks lined the shelves above the bed.
Unfortunately, she had not left a singing fish behind.
My wife and I relaxed – which I found a bit difficult to do in a teen-age girl’s bedroom – unwound and forgot about the daily grind for a while. Neither of us pulled a steak knife or even threatened to.
The innkeepers were friendly folks, the home beautiful and the town picture-postcard quaint, but I never felt fully comfortable, mainly because I didn’t have a remote control and I couldn’t walk around in my underwear.
Still, it was a good way to spend Uncle Sam’s rebate, especially since there’s enough money left over to buy a singing fish.
The McDowell News Front Page
Media General Community Publishing
Reprinted with permission
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