ALL THE TALK these days is of recession and belt-tightening, and it's no different in my house, maybe worse, as I make the kind of salary one would expect from a seventh-grader with a declining paper route.
We held a family meeting (two adults, two young kids) recently to discuss ways of cutting back expenses. As they say in diplomatic circles, the talks were far-ranging and productive, and the consensus arrived at was: What recession? Let's buy a pony.
Actually, this was a secondary theme of the discussion, the primary theme being: Could the Ninja Turtles beat a lion AND a gorilla in a fair fight?
My own opinion on the matter is this: The Turtles would have an overwhelming advantage, no question.
Oh, don't get me wrong, the lion is indeed the King of the Jungle and an angry 460-pound African gorilla is nothing to sneeze at either. But if you held this fight in an alley or (ideally) a sewer, the Turtles would kick some tail, if for no other reason than their superior knowledge of the terrain and advanced weaponry (chukka sticks, garbage can lids, etc.)
At least that's the way I see it. On the other hand . . . my God, I can't believe I'm babbling on and on about the Ninja Turtles.
(That's odd. Suddenly I . . . feel weak and feverish. And the room is starting to spin. Could be time for that check-up.)
Getting back to the family meeting, however, it began on a promising note, as you can no doubt discern from the partial transcript below:
"Ahem. The reason I called you all together is . . ."
"Daddy, will this take long?"
". . . to see if we can't figure out . . ."
"Because 'Cosby's' on in 10 minutes."
" . . . a few ways to save a little money around here and . . ."
"(Muffled noise) He hit me! OWWWW!"
" . . . possibly cut back on expenses so we . . ."
"LIAR!! I didn't hit you! I just touched your arm!"
" . . . get through this recession OK."
"Would anyone like some dessert?"
"Just coffee for me, thanks. Anyway, it seems to me . . ."
"No apple pie? It's home-made."
". . . that we have to . . . just a small slice, no half that . . . cut back on our trips to McDonald's and not eat out as often . . ."
"Sugar or Sweet 'N Low? in the coffee?"
". . . not that we eat out that much, but . . . sugar's fine . . .that might save a few bucks, especially when . . ."
"She's making faces at me! STOP MAKING FACES!"
". . . the price of unleaded gas is what, $1.39 a gallon?"
"I'M NOT MAKING FACES!"
"More coffee, dear?"
"As far as at home is concerned . . . no, I'm fine . . . make sure you turn out the lights when you leave a room and . . .tell you what, make it half a cup . . .make sure the doors and windows are closed so . . ."
"There's ice cream for the pie, if anyone wants it."
". . . the heat doesn't get out and our fuel bills don't go through the roof this winter."
"What kind of ice cream?"
"Pecan swirl, sweetie. It's very good."
"CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE FREAKING ICE CREAM SOME OTHER TIME? HUH? I'M TRYING TO TALK ABOUT THE FREAKING RECESSION!"
L "Do you have to use that language in front of the children?"
"If we can continue, I know Christmas is two months away but . . ."
"Santa Claus is bringing me a pony!''
" . . . we really have to scale back on the presents this year and . . ."
"We don't have enough room for a pony, sweetie. A pony needs a big field to run in and lots of grass to eat."
" . . . just be sensible about how we spend our money, OK? Well, that's it."
"I'm watching 'Cosby'"!
"No, we're watching 'The Simpsons!' OWWWW!! HE HIT ME!"
"I did NOT hit her! I just touched her arm!"
"Thank you for your kind attention."
As you can see, there was a marked difference of opinion in my house on just how to tackle the belt-tightening.
My wife apparently favors the consumption of great quantities of sweets until one drifts into a logy stupor and forgets one's financial woes, while the kids lean toward the tactic championed by more and more economists, which is to smack the person next to you on a whim.
Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I think we're gonna whip this recession.