Tax-Related Sorrows, Drowning of

At long, long last, I've finished my taxes. Not having quite twigged to the wisdom of handing that horrifically odious task off to someone who actually knows what he or she is doing, I spent a truly phenomenal amount of time over the past week dealing with QuickBooks, TurboTax, and hundreds of pieces of paper (albeit very organized pieces of paper). And though I'm happy to be done now, I'm not happy to have discovered just how much the US Treasury will suck out of me within the next ten days. Where that significant sum will come from is something of a puzzle.

It's good, then, that I have people like Erfert around to make me laugh hard enough to snort, and thus to make me forget for at least a while that I owe the government approximately the cost of a secondary human organ. (What does a spleen go for these days, anyway?)

We went out last evening for cocktails, catching up, and a gigantic mound of fried (or baked--but really, same diff) cheese. As always, we copiously toasted Our Good Friend Booze, and at some point decided that it was time to rewrite "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" as a paean to the soothing effects of a good cocktail. (Yes, yes: I realize that tomorrow is Easter, and that this verges on--if is not blatantly--blasphemy, but hey, lighten up.)

As we parted ways, Erfert promised she would put her wordsmithing powers to the task of creating a hymn. And damn if she didn't do precisely that, with aplomb, elan, and other en-vowelled adjectives. I can't keep this to myself, and so, with no further ado, please enjoy the fruits of her labor:

(Note: In case you've forgotten the tune, you can refresh your memory -- and sing along -- at the following site: http://www.hymnsite.com/lyrics/umh526.sht -- and don't ask me what a ".sht" file is -- I only work here. Another note: I am pleased to report that this site lets you play the tune using a piano, organ, or bells. Check it out!)

1. What a friend we have in Boozes:
ale and wine and gin and beer!
What a priv-i-lege to drink them
And know unmitigated cheer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
all because we do not carry
the proverbial dog's hair.

2. Have we tri-als and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
For we can always have a beer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Boozes know our every weakness;
And like true friends they're always there.

3. Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
(If we're saying things like “cumbered”
you know we're really on a tear!)
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Do they mock your Christmas shoes?
O, take heart poor lonely tippler;
You'll always find a friend in Booze!


(About the Christmas shoes: don't ask.)


I blame Windows

Or QuickBooks. Or the fact that my mind had gone numb from the lack of intellectual rigor involved in entering expense info into the aforementioned financial program. Or my innate clumsiness.

Whatever the cause, all I know is that as I slogged through the process of reconciling my 2006 expenses last night (yes, I still have not done my taxes, and yes, I'm supposed to be organized and shit), I managed to tip the glass of water next to me on the desk directly onto my laptop. I was, of course, out of my chair in a moment to move the dear little MacBook to dry ground, to pour the liquid from the keyboard, to grab handfuls of towels from the kitchen so I could mop up the water spreading rapidly across the desk and cascading onto the floor.

And in the midst of all of this--again, blame it on any of the factors above--I somehow managed not to think, Hmm, perhaps I should shut this little sucker down. Because even though there was a flare of unusual brightness ebbing and flowing in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, I had been in the QuickBooks zone, dammit, and once I'm out, forget it. So I thought I'd try to stay.

But I called Isaac and left a message seeking advice, and his reply via voicemail was unmistakeable: "Em, turn it off NOW, unplug it, take out the battery, and make sure everything is absolutely dry or you could fry the motherboard." I like my motherboard as is, thanks, so I took his advice and wound up spending the better part of an hour ministering to this little machine with a hairdryer set on low.

That gave me time to think. So I thought, hey, it's sort of like taking tender care of someone you love who's sick, like that passage from Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye I always find so striking. Then I thought, God help me that I can even compare blowdrying my laptop to caring for the sick--my interpersonal skills can't be that much in decline.

But they're not, of course. I think it's just that what bubbled up last night, hard on the heels of the desire not to see an expensive piece of electronic equipment give up the ghost because I can't drink and enter data at the same time, was a sort of innate desire to care. And at that moment, what could I care for but my wet laptop?

Damn if that doesn't sound like perhaps the most dorkwad and socially inept thing I could say, though I don't mean it to be. What I mean is actually something much sappier: that there's something in me (and, yes, allow me to extrapolate wildly: in most of us) that's just hard-wired to nurture someone, something, somehow. Take a Someone out of that equation and you're left to put your energies elsewhere--which is how you start to ooze down the slippery slope of emotional investment in your laptop screen's well-being.

I hope I can slow that fall, at least, lest I start expressing serious concern about the smudges on my once lily white wrist pad.