[NOTE: This is an edited version of an essay of mine from the past.]
Today is the last day to send in your taxes.
Ah, paying taxes. What fun! Along with close to 100% of Americans, I hate the process. It’s an attitude that unites us like almost nothing else. In recent years it’s even worse than usual, because the IRS has proven itself to be beneath contempt.
But to go back in time—tax day always reminds me of my father. He was both a lawyer and a certified public accountant, but it’s the latter profession that conjures up the April memories for me. He was not the Taxman (see video above) but the Taxmiddleman, the one who prepared tax forms—often of a very complex nature—and did it all by hand back in those pre-computer, pre-calculator, pre-Turbotax days. Actually, I suppose there were calculators back then—clunky mechanical ones, much like the calculator our neighbors had in their house to use for their business. But my father disdained and distrusted calculators, preferring to rely on his lightening-fast abilities with pencil and paper.
Every year starting around February—when my parents always went away to warmer climes for about ten days, in preparation for the long hard slog to come—until mid-April my father would come home from work every night, eat dinner, and go immediately to a small table in our living room. There he’d set up shop until bedtime, around midnight, and then repeat the entire process the next day. Weekends it started earlier. No TV for him, and almost no relaxation, just this quiet sitting in a chair, bending over papers and fiddling with small figures.
For those months, we kids were instructed to tiptoe around in the evenings and not disturb him. This was a tense time. We could see it in his exhausted face and bloodshot eyes.
And so in our house tax day was a very happy day. That’s probably true for all the Taxmiddlemen/women.
[NOTE: The video that appeared in the original version of this post is now unavailable. The one I inserted here instead—Indonesian titles and all—is the only one I could find right now that isn’t a cover version or a later solo by George Harrison. So in case you were wondering “why Indonesian?”, the answer is “because.”).