Husband Blames Debt Crisis on Wife’s Thriftiness [story by Geoff, updated by Vern!]


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Suffering a huge blow to their finances, Gabriel and Michelle Johnson learned today that the banks had cut their credit rating instantly increasing the interest rate on all of the Johnson’s debt.   According to the banks, the Johnson’s had been spending beyond their means for years and it finally caught up with them.  “It is simple economics,” stated bank officer Stan Poors, “you spend more than you take in and eventually it catches up with you.”

The Johnson’s reacted strongly with Gabriel blaming Michelle’s tea parties and Michelle pointing to the couple’s overspending habits. Gabriel Johnson was furious over the bank move, “this is all Michelle’s fault, if she had just allowed me to double our credit line I could have used that to pay off some bills – and we would have had a little left over for a new car and a nice vacation.  Its those idiotic tea parties that she throws, they all sit there and cluck like chickens about ‘how much the Porsche costs and how much we spend on our houses.  We argued over increasing our debt so long that we gave the bank time to jack up our interest.”

Michelle had a slightly different take, “we have been spending ourselves into oblivion, we either cut back now or we get to a place where we eventually couldn’t even pay our basic bills.  Gabriel is a good guy, but we support everyone of his family that decides that they ‘need a break from work.’  They expect us to pay for their health care, retirement and everything else.  I try to talk to them about supporting themselves and they just tell me ‘well, you can afford it.’  I just wanted Gabriel to take a realistic look at what we could really afford and he told me that I should go out an make more money.”

Sequel by Vern Nelson, Aug. 11

That night at dinner, just like every evening the previous few weeks, Michelle was “This is all your fault” and Gabriel was all, “No, dear, it’s actually mostly your fault.”  Finally, having had enough, 14-year-old Brandon shouted, “Will you two shut up!”  His parents sat up in shock, eyes wide open.  “Why don’t you listen to what Mr. Poor actually wrote?  Sally, do you have that letter?”

His little sister pulled a couple of pages out of her purse, as her father stammered, “Where did you find that?”  She handed it to her brother, who recited, “We regretfully downgrade this family because of MRS. Johnson’s refusal to consider adding any REVENUE to her family’s budget, and her constant threats to default on the debt.”

Eleven-year-old Joshua chimed in, “Yeah mom, all the Wagner kids heard you at that party Friday night laughing and saying ‘Maybe it’s not such a big deal if our family defaults!’  They said you sounded drunk.”

Michelle sat with her head held high, proudly.  “What I discovered was that this family’s finances are a hostage that’s worth holding for ransom.  And look what happened, I got 98% of what I wanted, didn’t I?”

Chaos broke out at the dinner table.  Seventeen-year-old Charlene was loudest.   “Great, mom.  98% of what you wanted.  Now we’re down to two meals a day, you’ve liquidated the savings account for our college educations, YOU won’t get a job…”

“If I got a damn job, I couldn’t stay home and make sure YOU don’t get an abortion!” snapped Michelle.

“Yeah, that’s just wonderful,” Charlene muttered with her head down.  “Another mouth we can’t afford to feed.”

Nine-year-old Randy broke the awkward silence, “And why do we have to keep paying for armed guards for half the houses on the street?  How much does THAT cost us??”

All the other children joined in, “Yeah, Mom, why all the armed guards?  Can’t some of the neighbors chip in for that?”

“Randy, dear, this is a dangerous, dangerous street, and we need to keep our friends close and our enemies closer.  We are the special family the other families look up to for protection, the shining house on the hill.  I know you’re too young to remember, Randy.  But have the rest of you forgotten what happened here ten years ago?  Do I need to tell you the story again???”

Gabriel quietly observed, “You know, the kids are right, Michelle.  We COULD let a FEW of those armed guards go, and save a LOT.”

“Why do all you people hate this family?”  Tears began to well up in Michelle’s eyes.  “I’m walking out of here!”  She slammed down her silverware and stomped out of the dining room into her bedroom.

Gabriel sat there shaking his head.  “Real piece of work, that mother of yours.”  Chuckling, he began, “Can’t live with ‘em, can’t – ”

“You haven’t exactly covered yourself in glory either, Dad” interrupted 12-year-old Chelsea.

“WHAT?”

“Jeffery, do you have that tape we made?  Of Mom and Dad’s so-called negotiations?”  Six-year-old Jeffery grinned from ear to ear, showing a missing front tooth, and pulled out some kind of little iPod.  “No!  Please don’t play that Jeffrey!” Gabriel pleaded, “I can’t go through all that again.”

“Suffice it to say, Dad, you gave Mom EVERYTHING she wanted.  Our college educations – gone.  Our health insurance gone.  This house is falling apart for lack of repair.  No new income at all.”

“Where are those jobs you promised us, Dad?” snapped sixteen-year-old Greg, and his fellow quintuplet brothers joined in a cacophony, “Yeah!  If we had work, we could help out here.  That’s all we want to do…  You’re the employer of last resort, Dad!”

“Your Mother…”

“Wait – is that her on the phone now?  Is she drunk again?”

The family suddenly hushed, and they could hear Michelle clearly yelling on the phone – she was yelling loud enough for them to hear, on purpose.  “Mr. Poor?  I just want you to know that next month I am going to shut the Johnson family down.  We – ”

Gabriel jumped out of his chair and picked up the extension.  “I’m sorry, Mr. Poor.  Please ignore this call.  Michelle – GET OFF THE PHONE.  Mr. Poor, I am going to have her committed first thing in the morning.  Don’t worry, this family will always pay its debts and we are NOT SHUTTING DOWN.”

Gabriel hung up, sat down at the table and wiped the sweat off his forehead with a handkerchief.  “Children, there is really only so much I can do.  If I were a government I could create jobs, fixing up our crumbling infrastructure.  If I were a government, and not just the head of a family, I could briefly run up a deficit to get the economy cranked up again.  If I were a government – ”

“Wait a second,” puzzled eight-year old Chutney.  “IF you were a government?  But I thought…”

“So you’re saying there’s only so far this whole metaphor can be taken?” one-year-old Biff piped up from his high chair through a mouthful of Gerber’s.  The whole family stared – those were the first words they had ever heard him utter.  They looked down at their hands…which began to dissolve into formless stumps.  Limb by limb, face by face, they slowly dissolved;  they tried to speak but their very thoughts were inchoate.  Finally it was just we Americans left sitting here, trying to figure out what to do next.


About Geoff Willis