Pain by numbers

Pain by numbers

It’s not that math in and of itself causes Sweet Cakes’ nerves to palpate with anxiety. Math—what is it? A bunch of dress sizes and inseam measurements thrown together in a big heap! Please. Sweet is not l’imbecile! She can handle math.

But taxes. That, dearest darlings, is another calculation entirely. And with the season upon us to paperclip all of last year’s receipts together and lament another year gone by without taking Papa Cakes’ advice to “save for life’s true frosting—retirement,” La Cake can just feel her heart racing. Pitter pitter pitter. Maybe you can hear it. The motor revs that loudly in her chest.

What, you ask, causes this stress? Sugaree thinks there may be some link to the past, specifically that time when Mama Cakes got first a letter, then a phone call, and finally a visit from the suited gentlemen whom everyone called Miserable Government Bloodsucker but truly was one Mr. Turnsworth from the IRS. Though but a wee cupcake, Sweet recalls the agitated bustle throughout the household as bank statements were summoned from boxes beneath the bed and so on. This flurry was something called An Audit. In later years, it was invoked each spring with this incantation: “Let’s try to avoid another G. D. audit.” This remark, Sweet hastens to note, was not uttered with calm.

But Honey-pie is a grown woman now, and surely she has nothing to fear from the Internal Revenue Service. Such is the sage advice dispensed by Melissa Kirsch in The Girl’s Guide to Absolutely Everything, which, believe it or not, is not as exaggerated a title as sounds. Sure, it’s missing the what-to-name-your-pet section, but the book has smart words on things like surviving a break-up (“think back on the lousy times”), cleaning a bathtub (“one must be naked”), and dealing with taxes. Fun fact to know on this subject: Last year the average American had a 1 in 107 chance of being audited. In other words, you are more likely to see John Grisham eating lunch at a Downtown restaurant than you are to be audited by the IRS.  And, should you happen to get that call, Kirsch advises, understand that the Feds “aren’t out to get you—they’re out to get the money you owe.”

Just reading these words gives Sweet the comfort she needs to complete the Form 1040.
Which leaves Cookie-baby with one all-important question: On what should she spend her refund? Papa Cakes might want her to save it in an IRA. Sigh. This is surely the right idea; Sweet knows it. Yet she hears the siren call of that cute flower print sleeveless top (in coral) from Orla Kiely not to mention the “Canna” slingback high heeled sandals from Donald J. Pliner. It’s at times like this (O.K., it’s at just this one time) that Sweetie asks herself, what would Melissa Kirsch do, being as how she seems to know everything (except, as mentioned, what to name Fido)? She’d probably suggest something wise like always carry condoms and don’t spend outside your means.

Suddenly Sweet finds herself disliking Know-it-all Melissa Kirsch.

Fine, then. Here is the compromise solution: As a reward for getting over her panic about filing her taxes, Sweet will grant herself one indulgence. Something decadent and entirely unnecessary that spells Luxury. Sweet will purchase a mocha latte with whipped cream and shaved chocolate and a palmier to go with it! She will savor the flavors and when she finishes she will open a retirement account. No point inviting high anxiety in the years to come.