Bob lives in a world of checks and balances

Bob lives in a world of checks and balances By Bob Karolevitz In many households women keep the checkbooks, pay the bills and otherwise manage the pecuniary chores.

But not at our place!

Phyllis doesn't want to have anything to do with what she considers to be business minutia.

"You handle the finances, and I'll take care of the animals," she insisted a long time ago � and it's been that way ever since.

At first I protested.

"If I could do arithmetic, I wouldn't have to keep writing," I argued. But my plaint fell on deaf ears.

That's how I ended up with a ledger book, while she concentrated on livestock feed, gestation periods and breech births.

Actually it was a compromise achieved by a democratic vote of One-to-one. Hers was the big One.

Oh, she cooks the meals, buys the groceries and does other wifely things around the house, but the fiscal responsibility she leaves to me. That

isn't to say, though, that she doesn't know or care about what goes on in our treasury department.

She keeps an eagle eye on our bank account; she just doesn't want to get involved in the bookkeeping, that's all.

Of course, I use an obsolete system that went out with Bob Cratchit, all of which confuses our banker and the accountant. But you can't teach an old bulldog new tricks, I always say. I'd probably wear a green eye shade and use an ink well, if I could find them some place besides a museum.

While I don't play the stock market myself, I tried to interest Phyllis in the intriguing manipulation of Wall Street, but she couldn't care less about Nasdaq, Dow Jones or Standard & Poors. As for me, I'm sort of a piggy bank man.

There was a time when I was in Korea that Phyllis was forced to play a role she obviously didn't choose for herself. She didn't really mess things up, but she couldn't wait to dump the load on me when I came home.

That was almost half a century ago, and I've been stuck with the work ever since. It's not that ours is all that complicated; it's just tedium, like washing dishes or making the beds.

Sometimes I wish I were good at numbers so that I'd be eager to tackle the tax reports and balance the books instead of just sweating them out. Somebody's got to do it, though, and I guess I'm the lucky one.

I also wish I had Phyllis's laissez-faire attitude when I'm off a few cents in my addition or subtraction at the end of the month. "Don't worry about it," she says, kissing it off; but I fret and fuss until I find the missing pennies.

It's embarrassing when I finally have to take the checkbook to the bank to make it come out right. It's usually just a simple thing, like a transposition, which I should have seen all along. The gal at the bank spots it in an instant, and I mutter some kind of excuse and go my unmerry way.

We're not big enough to have a bookkeeping staff, so the job will probably be mine until they put me away. It's too late for me to be a multimillionaire quarterback. Instead I keep telling Phyllis she should win the lottery. Then we could hire somebody to keep track of our money.

She just shrugs and walks away, saying as she goes; "You're doing a good job. Keep it up!"

© 2000 Robert F. Karolevitz

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