The other night, I was planning a dinner with my girlfriend when we ran through the ingredients for her favorite pasta before realizing that we had everything but the mozzarella cheese.
“Oh, let’s just go to the store and grab some,” she said.
“Alright, yeah, let’s go,” I hesitantly responded thinking about the ringer I was about to go through.
Upon leaving the grocery store where we intended to buy a singular amount of cheese intended for one single meal that was to be split between two people, I peered down and saw four grocery bags full of $90 worth of vegetables, three different kinds of hummus, sparking rosé, flat rosé, and enough organic bullshit to last Gwyneth Paltrow until 2017.
“Should we just split this?” she inquired at the register, where you could find me panic sweating because crying wasn’t acceptable.
“Sure, babe, let’s just split it,” I say with a fake smile while handing over my debit card for a bunch of groceries that I’d never purchase alone.
$45 later, I sat at our dining room table wondering why we hadn’t just gone to the five-star Italian restaurant that had just opened in that up-and-coming part of town. After all, at least there I would have gotten complimentary bread, olive oil, and the meal cooked for me by a trained chef. Instead, I overcooked our garlic bread (that she won’t eat because, you know, carbs) and had to spend the rest of the night scrubbing the pan that had dried tomato sauce caked onto it because I stupidly left the stove on while we conversed about her friend’s weddings over dinner. And while she was essentially laying my life out in front of me, all I could think about was that damn $45 that I didn’t need to spend.
See, I’m convinced that if this broad never walked into my life, I’d be disgustingly rich. No longer would I be the guy who has to turn down bachelor parties because I’m budgeting myself, and I wouldn’t be fervently scrolling the Golf Now app because I’d have a membership at a noted country club. I’d have my student loans paid off, a designer label wardrobe, and a luxury vehicle with a sunroof and satellite radio. But, instead, I find myself putting down my card for six $12 craft cocktails at bars at restaurants I never imagined I’d find myself at had it not been for this girl who I’m now financially obligated to marry because I’m so fiscally invested in her.
My life is a series of, “No, I’ll get this one,” mixed with, “Of course I don’t mind paying!” while I look up personal loans in my Chase app. “I don’t mind paying, because I love you,” comes out of my mouth when all I really want to say is, “I’m paying because I’m afraid of you.”
So instead of buying tickets to the National Championship last year, I was putting my bank account into overdraft by purchasing two tickets to some gala in New York City to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bunch of people I’d never met before. On top of the tuxedo I rented, the champagne she demanded after midnight, and the hotel room, I was wondering why I didn’t just take this money and become the king of Greece.
But no. Every Sunday, she gets a text from Jennifer that leads to me going on a mid-week double date where I’m spending $110 instead of sitting at home eating some a pre-made meal from the supermarket while watching the free game of the day on MLB TV.
Sure, she thinks picking up a meal here and there helps, but it doesn’t. She thinks a round of drinks at happy hour covers the cooking class she forced me to go to last April, but no, they don’t. She thinks a Lyft ride equals out of the cost of her $10 gluten-free noodles I picked up from the store for her on my way home from work each of the last four consecutive weeks.
So here I am, the guy who has “Track Your Spending” alerts set up to keep track of all of his three-figure meals and $50 grocery store trips, when all I really want is a French Bread oven-baked pizza and nosebleed tickets to a ballgame. But on the horizon is an engagement ring instead of a second vehicle, a four bedroom suburban home instead of a penthouse studio and a lake house, and a series of college tuitions instead of early retirement.
They say, “Love is not about how much you say, ‘I love you,’ but how much you can prove it’s true.” But I’m starting to think it’s not about how much you say, “I love you,” and about how much you can spend before you have to declare chapter 13 bankruptcy. .
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