Sunday, February 6, 2011

THE BONUS GIFT GAVE ME STRESS

The last time I had my income taxes done at one of those places that does taxes, all the woman did was sit there and read questions to me from a computer screen. She charged me $350.

I remember thinking, after I was revived from fainting over the price, that I probably should buy one of those computer tax programs similar to the one the woman had used, and do my taxes myself. I figured I had enough intelligence to answer a few questions on my computer screen…and I could save myself a bundle of money.

Well, a couple weeks ago, it just so happened that one of the big electronics stores advertised a sale on income-tax computer programs. To make the sale even more inviting, the store also was giving away a free DVD movie with each program sold. So I headed over to check out the sale.

I selected my tax program, which cost under $50, then asked one of the clerks which free DVD came with it. I figured it would be something pretty obscure, like “1001 Elvis Impersonators Unleashed,” but to my surprise, the clerk said, “Pick out any DVD we have in stock…as long as it’s under $20.”

The store must have had 10,000 movies. I immediately felt panicky. How on earth was I going to pick just one?

I searched through acres of Mel Gibson movies, Tom Cruise movies, Sylvester Stallone movies and John Travolta movies. I studied the covers of concert movies of every band from Abba to Frank Zappa. An hour passed, and still I hadn’t selected a free movie. It was sheer torture.

That’s when I recalled my husband recently mentioning some new movie starring Angelina Jolie he really wanted to see. I couldn’t remember the exact title of the film, only that it had something to do with cooking.

I managed to track down another clerk. “Do you have that new Angelina Jolie movie?” I asked him. “The title has something to do with cooking, I think.”

He just stared blankly at me.

Then I remembered something else my husband had mentioned about it. “I think she plays a spy in it.”

A look of realization suddenly crossed the clerk’s face. “Oh, you must mean ‘Salt,’” he said, smiling. “It’s right over there on the end cap.”

As I headed back toward the DVDs, the clerk called out to me, “By the way, Salt is her name in the movie, not a condiment!”

As it turned out, the movie was $19.99, so Angelina fell within the “free DVD” range by the skin of her pearly-white teeth. I breathed a sigh of relief. When I brought “Salt” home and handed it to my husband, he was thrilled…perhaps a little too much so.

That’s when I started thinking that maybe I should have selected a “Shrek” movie instead. I mean, I’d rather have my husband staring at a giant green ogre for two hours than at a sexy, shapely, pouty-lipped vixen who probably would be wearing very little and doing a lot of running in the movie…and not one of her body parts would be bouncing.

The free movie obviously turned out to be everything my husband had hoped it would be…endless scenes of Angelina sprinting, jumping, climbing, karate chopping, dangling by her heels and blowing up things. His eyeballs practically bulged out of their sockets as he stared, seemingly hypnotized, at the screen.

I thought I heard one of the dogs panting while my husband was watching the movie, but now that I think about it, I’m not certain if it was the dog or my husband. Had he agreed to wear the heart monitor his doctor had tried to talk him into wearing just a few days before, the paramedics probably would have been breaking down our door.

Immediately after my husband finished watching the DVD, I sold it on eBay for a high bid of $7.25.

The next night, I gathered all of my paperwork, sat down in front of my computer and started to use the tax program.

How did I make out?

If I’m not being audited, I’ll tell you all about it next week.

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