A few weeks ago, my metal dining chairs were recalled to Freedom, cos they were chopping toes off, or something. (BEAR WITH ME, there is a point to this apparently tedious story.) The chairs were, like, five years old or something – older than Frankie, anyway – and bore the fork marks of a pretty tough life, kinda like their owner. Anyway, we didn’t need telling twice, and that afternoon rocked up at our local Freedom store with six battered dining chairs and three children whom we were also quite keen to swap. Despite having no receipt, no knowledge of when they were bought, or even which store they were bought FROM (the chairs, not the children), the good lady at Freedom offered us a full refund (on the chairs, not the children).
“Oh yeah, that’d be cool,” I said, thinking that I’d go home via Dan Murphy’s, spend the proceeds on booze, and we could sit on cushions for the foreseeable.
“Do you know how much you paid for them?” the good lady at Freedom asked.
“Madame, I do not. Maybe like $20 each? That’s as much as I’d pay for a chair these days.”
She smiled, indulgently. “They were $160 each.”
“Fuck off. Did I buy them on sale?”
“Nope, full price.”
“Do you have, like, a record of that? Cos it’s possible I stole them.”
I called Paul over from the reclining sofas, where he and the three kids were settling in for the night. I told him how much we’d paid for the chairs. As he mentally tallied how many bottles of Pepperjack shiraz we could buy with the proceeds of the six chairs, he stated the obvious: “The children took our money.”
THE CHILDREN TOOK OUR MONEY.
We have the same jobs as we did in 2011. The same income. The same mortgage. Even the same CAR. But we have significantly less money. We have no money. BECAUSE THE CHILDREN TOOK OUR MONEY.
Which brings me to my next point: a guy at Paul’s work bought himself a life-sized mannequin this week. Paul showed me a photo of it, and asked what I thought his colleague had bought a life-sized mannequin for.
“To be his girlfriend?”
“He has a wife.”
“To be his mistress?”
“To stand at his window when he’s out at work?”
“Like Home Alone?”
“Exactly like Home Alone. He could make it wave.”
“I give up.”
“To wear his STORM TROOPER outfit.”
“Fuck. Fuck and fuck. He must be RICH. Neither mannequins nor Storm Trooper outfits come cheap.”
“He’s not rich. He works at my work.”
“He doesn’t have kids, does he?”
“He does not have kids.”
“He has money to spend on mannequins and Storm Trooper outfits because he does not have to spend his money on school excursions and Trombone insurance.”
“This is true.”
This led to a conversation on what we’d spend our pennies on if we didn’t have to spend our pennies on our penny-sucking children. Paul, without hesitation, said that he’d buy a gold statue of Biggie Smalls. Obviously.
I would buy a vintage Olivetti typewriter. Obviously.
We’d both quite like this Bush Heritage digi-wifi radio. Obviously.
And then – fuck me – how could we not spend our obligation-free pennies on this vintage VW camper van, and maybe a holiday?
We can dream, can’t we? As I make another direct debit to the primary school for PROFESSOR MATHS AND HIS BULLSHIT MATHS SHOW, and a second direct debit to the school photographer for RIDICULOUS AWKWARD PHOTOS OF MY RIDICULOUS AWKWARD CHILDREN, and a third credit card payment to Coles for a home delivery of CRUNCHY NUT CORNFLAKES and a COW'S WORTH OF MILK, I can dream, can’t I?
As an aside, do you think there’s a chance our children might be recalled at some point, too?