Kathie GibboneyBy Kathie Gibboney

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Money Honey
When departing from home, whether the Beleaguered Husband is on a quest for surf, groceries, cool shoes or heading to his gig as Guardian of The Malibu Pier, I do not send him off with the appropriately tender, “I love you.” Oh no, I do not. These days I provide instead a practical, albeit mercenary adage, “Don’t forget to look for money on the ground.” Odd to think if these were the very last words I ever said to him, I might rightly experience a twinge of regret. What has happened to me? I never cared about money before, could take it or leave it, see it come and go (mostly go, especially if you open a restaurant). For as long as the family and cat were well and happy, so was I. We live in Topanga! We had food and wine and shoes, a library and Christmas presents, and I was grateful every day. But there has been some paradigm shift, a sea change, an alteration, and suddenly I am enamored with money. Thrilled with the thought of it! And, mind you, I’m not talking about working for it. I want it free and clear, as a surprise, maybe a gift or something owed me, and plenty of it. I did recently receive an unexpected check from a gracious employer, but it has only whet my appetite for more. Maybe some alignment of the stars is influencing my astrological house of money, which has always seemed as if no one was home. Checking this month’s horoscope, I’m assured Saturn and Jupiter are working well together to send other people’s money my way. Now that’s what I’m talking about! The phrase, “entitled to substantial financial compensation,” has become a favorite of mine and I speak it aloud, rolling it trippingly off the tongue. In fact, let’s all say it together, “Substantial Financial Compensation.” Ahh, nice. I also like the word, annuity. I’m not sure exactly what that is, but I suspect one would need to have something called (God help me), a financial portfolio. The extent of our portfolio is a few bills in a cigar box under the bed and a gift card to the El Paso Restaurant in Santa Barbara. Another popular axiom is, “earned income tax credit,” yet credit doesn’t excite me as much as actual cash and for some reason, I am deemed too old to qualify anyway. What kind of ageism is at work there? So, I have begun to pursue another road to riches, which I like to call “Found Money.” Evidently there are people who don’t even know that they may have money or even property belonging to them just waiting in some dusty, government account for them to scoop up. Perhaps someone, a long-ago suitor, or distant relative, or a child, now grown, who fondly recalls how influential I was in shaping them into the successful, generous, rich citizen they are now, has left me a goldmine, or real estate in Pacific Grove. I try to negotiate the online, Unclaimed Property or Funds, sites but many appear to be sketchy businesses charging you money to find you money, and who would be a better victim to scam than someone who’s online desperately searching for cash. I did try one seemingly legitimate, government site, but upon entering my name and address in hopes of a big reward, the response was a lamentable, “No matches.” Heck, I’d take a few old residual checks, anything. I hear on the news that Bank of America is being fined millions for overcharging customers. Hopefully they will send an apology for all those pesky insufficient funds fees I was wrongfully charged in my youth and a nice substantial refund for their careless business practices. I shall watch the mail. Now, there is actual real estate, a condo inherited by my husband and his brother, but it is hopelessly tied up in probate and carries a hefty reverse mortgage debt that will have to be repaid before selling, and attorney fees. So, I see that cache slipping away faster than a leprechaun’s gold when he’s tricked you into looking away, leaving only the sound of his laughter behind. I fear options for a big payday are dwindling. Gambling takes money, although I’ve always felt I might have an aptitude for Bingo but I hear the games can get ugly, what with some of the competing old ladies becoming vicious to the point of hair pulling and spitting on each other’s cards. There’s always crime, but doesn’t one have to be pretty damn agile to steal a catalytic converter? Even if the old man and I might somehow manage to crawl under a vehicle, we would no doubt never get back up and would be stuck there calling out, “Help” to passersby, claiming we’d just been looking for a lost cat. No, way, too much effort. It occurs that this monetary obsession may have something to do with reaching, let us say, a certain age. That having an uncertain future, walking way up there on that tightrope, hoping for the best, with but a smile and a dream, trusting in things falling into place, might just lead to a fall. And it’s not as if I don’t have some skills, but I’ve always been more of the happy go lucky, lazy Grasshopper than the industrious ant. I have a book, a good book. And a published collection, (thanks to the Topanga Messenger and The Canyon Chronicle), of what it’s been like to be a family growing and living in this Topanga community for 30 years. Yes, the commitment, effort and labor involved with attempting to publish and market my writing is overwhelming. But imagine my joy, peace of mind and spirt if I were ever graced to earn a living by my own honest work. “Don’t forget to buy a lottery ticket!,” I call after Michael as he drives away.
Kathie Gibboney

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