By Real Simple
Updated January 30, 2009
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Man Sitting in a Tree
Credit: Maira Kalman

The day starts well. I do not proceed to the nearest Dunkin’ Donuts to purchase hot liquid crack. I do not buy the morning paper. Instead, I meditate on the contents of my soul. (This does not take long.)

My afternoon plan is to watch the finals of the European soccer championships at my friend Karl’s, but his wife has just had a baby so supposedly they’re “tired.” We don’t have a TV, so I end up at an Irish pub, where the bartender stares at me for 20 minutes, waiting for my drink order. I slink out at halftime.

Monday

Erin and I are on our way back from running an errand with our two-year-old daughter, Josephine. It’s rush hour in Boston, and traffic is barely moving.

“Hey,” Erin says. “Let’s go to a restaurant.”


“Very funny. No spending means no spending.”


“Gnocchi in vodka sauce,” she says. “Mmm. Shrimp scampi. Lobster ravioli.”


“Please shut up,” I say.

We dine on day-old sandwich wraps at home.

Tuesday

Getting a haircut has become increasingly disconcerting as I’ve entered my slow but inexorable march toward Captain Picarditude. Still, it has become essential that I visit my stylist, Linda, at least once a month, lest my remaining follicles pouf in a manner recalling Robby Benson during his Ice Castles phase. Complicating matters is the fact that Josephine will be coming along for her debut haircut.

As I ease into the chair, I explain to Linda that I plan to pay her for both haircuts...next week. “Two baldies coming up!” she shrieks, brandishing her clippers like a Ginsu knife. She’s kidding. I think.

Heading home, I pull up at a stoplight. A 10-year-old kid walks up to my window, holding a bucket with the name of a homeless children’s shelter.

“I’m sorry,” I say. “I can’t spend money this week.”

Erin digs a handful of quarters from her purse and reaches across my lap. “Here,” she says to the kid. “Take this. I apologize. My husband is an idiot.”

At this point, three things occur to me, more or less simultaneously: 1. I am an idiot. 2. I spend a lot more money than I ever realized or would admit. 3. While I enjoy having an excuse not to spend money, I do not enjoy feeling like an idiot.