Friday Mental Massage: Tax this

Of life’s two certainties, I faced one head-on this week.

“You had a good year,” Billie said to me from across her desk.

“I’m not going to complain,” I said. “Of course, this year likely won’t be nearly so good.”

She looked at me with a look akin to how a dog looks at a squirrel wearing a marching band outfit. The look said, unequivocally, “Huh?”

I started trying to explain the ups and downs of life and finances in my world. About two sentences in, I could see she drifted off to how much work she had to do before the March 15 corporate filing deadline. I shut up and wondered if I had time to get my hair cut.

As we finished up, I asked her about a couple of itemized places on my personal return.

“That’s the child tax credit,” she said. “I wonder why it’s only $50?”

I wondered the same. Fifty bucks? I feed, clothe, pre-school, and provide healthy play experiences for my son, and the government is only crediting me fifty dollars for my efforts and money spent? Has the IRS ever purchased diapers? Better yet, has the IRS ever changed a diaper? I should get a $1000 credit just for that.

“Ah, yes,” she said. “You don’t qualify for the full amount.”

She pointed in eight different directions, at some flow charts, pictographs, and some sort of Nordic runes to explain how I wasn’t eligible for the $1,000 child tax credit.

“Well,” I said. I composed myself. “Well, at least I’ll have the deduction for my health insurance.”

A little more than a year ago, when the wife came home to play police woman to my kid’s Babyface Nelson, we lost our Big Time Corporate Health Insurance. While never great insurance, it was always there.

“Well, sure,” Billie said. She sounded like I did the other night when I tried to convince my son that one green blanket was as good as the other and that he could go to sleep while his favorite was in the dryer. [Note to Cincinnati Sara: Your gift to my boy is one of his most prized possessions.]

A few clicks on the keyboard and Billie looked at me and shook her head. Despite the fact I spend $600 a month on health insurance for my family, I don’t meet the minimum threshold for deducting the cost.

So, I’m not allowed to take the tax credit for my kid and I don’t get the deduction for having insurance to keep my him in doctor’s visits and cough medicine.

Remind me to find a candidate who is in favor of tax reform.


In other news, I got my hair cut on the same day. As I sat under the scissors, I occupied myself by looking at the posters on the wall (anything to avoid looking in the mirror at the stylist’s bulging crotch on my shoulder). One of the marketing posters was of a blonde woman in what was surely anticipatory glee. You could see behind her, out of focus, a man with a sly look on his face. My eyes were drawn to the woman’s unique belt. It was orange and didn’t go through the belt loops of her tight jeans. I looked closer. Then I looked at her hands. She was holding two large alligator clamps.

Jumper cables. The woman was tied up in jumper cables.

“That woman is tied up in jumper cables,” I said, eyes in line with the crotch.

“Hmmm,” my stylist said. “Most people just say they like her hair.”

I come from the Midwest, where the vernacular usually calls for a person with a dead battery to inquire, “Can you give me a jump?” Growing up, that never seemed dirty. However, when I moved to the South ten years ago, I started hearing a new phrase.

“Can you jump me off?”

Now, sitting in a franchise hair cuttery populated by crotch-shoulder massagers, I felt like this message was less than subliminal. And I swear on all that’s holy, the caption on the jumper cable S&M poster read: Lifestyles.


I was up late last night. From 8pm until around 3am, I had one of those periods in which everything…just…worked. Every decision I made was the right one. Every risk I took paid off. I didn’t use luck when I didn’t need it. In return, luck rewarded me by showing up when I was, indeed, in need. The result was being able to go to bed with a foreign sense of calm and accomplishment. I feel asleep much faster than normal.


Finally, some pimping:

My wife is on a roll over at her blog.

A good friend of mine recently started blogging. One of his recent posts touched me. Check it out.

Absinthe, my boy in the ‘wood (did I just type that?), is in the final stages of baby-waiting. He’s also enduring one of the ugliest realities of baby-prep. Check him out at Absinthetics.

Pauly publishes a monthly online literary mag based largely on people’s travels, either around the world or around life. The March issue of Truckin’ features some hella writers.

The Friday Mental Massage is a brain dump. Herein, you’ll find no attempt at what some people call “writing.” Of course, some people would say they don’t normally find capital “W” writing here, anyway.

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Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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