My husband occasionally sends me articles that he thinks I might enjoy, and yesterday he sent a doozie. If you have a couple of minutes, click here and read "Confessions of a TARP Wife" from Portfolio.com.
It's a very funny look at this new life many are learning to live in our current economic times. The author, "Anonymous" (and who can blame her?), pokes fun at the life of opulence she used to live and teases a bit about the life she finds herself now living.
She is a TARP wife--the wife of a banker. Which, I guess, makes me a TARP wife too.
I never really thought I would have much in common with a Wall Street banker's wife. After all, my husband doesn't exactly work on Wall Street; he works on River Road. But, you know, after reading this article I've come to realize that the similarities between "Anonymous" and me are absolutely remarkable.
TARP wives carry deep concerns for their husbands. Unlike "Anonymous," my husband isn't CEO of his bank (thank goodness, because who really wants that kind of pressure these days?), but he does help his employer make some pretty important decisions, so I can completely relate to this woman's concern for her husband's health and hair color.
TARP wives' shopping habits have changed. "Anonymous" has stopped buying clothes and only buys gifts at Bergdorf's under the cover of darkness. I, as well, have changed some of my shopping habits. I have taken to buying milk at Costco, despite the terrible packaging design of their milk carton, because Costco milk costs $1.79; at the "regular" grocery store milk can cost as much as $2.99.
TARP wives have to make difficult choices as well. "Anonymous" struggles with whether she should throw her husband the usual type of extravagant birthday party (you know, to cheer him up) or whether she should settle for something a little quieter this year. I've got some choices to make too. Should I pay someone $400 to fix the fence I broke last week or should B and I use a little elbow grease and try to fix it ourselves? (Home Depot, here we come!)
TARP wives' wonder how to explain our new financial situation to our children. "Anonymous" probably hasn't had as much practice saying "no" to her kids as I have. She'll get used to it.
We TARP wives are a sisterhood of sorts, sharing many concerns, fears, and emotions. We have begun to grasp the reality that retirement is now elusive, as is the reputation our husbands used to enjoy. Bankers used to be known as helpful folk, but today, as "Anonymous" points out, they have "replaced the Mob as the most despised group in the country." (I would actually replace "Mob" with "Lawyers," but that's just my personal bias coming through.)
We'll survive, we TARP wives. We'll survive because we'll have to. We'll survive because, like everyone, we can look around and see that someone else has it just a little worse than we do.
And that kind of perspective is just too painful to laugh about.