I got audited by the IRS.
Long story short, in 2006 I was a full time student living with my parents and they claimed me as dependent. One thing my dear old dad didn’t do, however, was file my W2’s, so as the lady on the other end of the IRS phone bank explained, I have 2 options. Option 1 is that I can file my 2006 taxes now, claim myself as independent, and get the $51 refund I’m owed because I overpaid. This will royally fuck up my parents’ taxes, and they’ll be audited up the ass. Option 2 is that I can let the IRS handle everything on my end and get charged $109 to do it (normally $160, but this is less $51 thanks to that sweet ass return), and my parents will not be audited.
I picked the very aptly named number 2, and tossed away some more money I can’t afford to lose.
And so, as I bask in the joy that is unemployment (on the couch in my underwear, scruffy, eating children’s cereal and watching daytime TV), I’ve stopped to think about money. No, not about the lack of it, but about the last time I physically had it, which probably goes far beyond the summer of 2006 when I was a naïve student, studying my lessons, writing my first and admittedly crappy novel, and cooking the books behind Uncle Sam’s back.
So where the hell is my money?
Let’s face it; my wallet hasn’t contained anything of value for years. It’s got a few plastic cards with a disappointing credit limit, a health insurance card that means nothing now that I’m unemployed, and a driver’s license that means I’m more likely to get in an auto accident now that I don’t have said health insurance.
But when was the last time it held paper money? Truth be told, I don’t know. I haven’t had paper money since the days it was handed out to me in singles by my grandparents for my birthday or Christmas. And even then I just blew it on toys, or a Happy Meal, or something idiotic. Man, I was a stupid child. Didn’t anyone tell me about 401ks or stock options or mutual funds?
Regardless, I’ve made a couple more dollars since childhood (thanks to gainful employment), but now that I stop and think about it, I’ve never actually seen any of it. Never held any of it in my hands. Therefore, using my powers of deduction and almost no feasible knowledge of modern day science, I’ve come to a conclusion: my money is invisible.
Think about it; I’ve worked for the past 5 years, getting paid via direct deposit, in which I’ve been assured money is put into my bank account. In 5 years, I’ve never actually ‘seen’ anything except a digital number on my computer screen when I log into my bank’s website. And yet, at the same time, I have direct debit for almost everything—rent, utilities, cable, phone bill, etc—and so all of those invisible numbers that were pumped into my bank account are sucked out the same way they came in. Money goes in, money comes out, and I’ve never seen a single green shred of it. So long as the number isn’t negative, everything’s fine. If the number’s negative, well, time to panic and find some more invisible money. Or hit up the local pawn shop and hope my fiancé can't tell the difference between diamond and cubic zirconia.
So does money exist? I don't know. The government says it does, but then again they also say that aliens *don’t* exist, and I’ve seen some pug-fugly motherfuckers browsing the local Wal-mart that couldn’t possibly be classified as humans, so who knows what I believe anymore. All I know is that it throws me off. It skews my perception of success.
When I think ‘rich’, I think of a guy in an oversized bathtub taking a bath in hundred dollar bills (the beer is optional). But, question: who of us uses only cash anymore? Answer: not a single person I know. We’ve all been converted to invisible dollars, unless your only source of income is buried in the backyard, in a brand of coffee can that hasn't been marketed since nineteen-dickety-two, when the president at the time was famous for being too fat and getting stuck in his own bathtub. Then again, maybe it was hard to fit in there with all that invisible money.
So how do I measure success? By bragging that the number displayed on my bank account's login page is higher than the number displayed on *your* bank account's login page? Who knows. Maybe success is no longer taking a bath in paper money. Maybe it's taking a bath in invisible money, which I have a modest amount of. Or maybe it's taking a real bath, which I forgot to do yesterday.
On that note, I'm out, but you're welcome to join me. There's a lot of wading room in this tub of invisible money, so grab a towel, your favorite beer, and hop in. This one’s to success.