My husband is a simple man. This comes as a surprise to folks because of the high-profile family from which he comes and the job which he does.
If it weren’t for me, he’d never spend a dime on himself. Except, of course, for all the soap and toothpaste he uses. I buy clothes he claims he doesn’t need and after a wintery outside funeral, I promptly came home and ordered him a dressy overcoat. Coming from California, he probably hasn’t had one in 40 years, if ever.
For three years now, he has flung around the Rondarosa and town in a Chevrolet truck that is so bare that it has manual locks and windows that use a handle to roll them up and down. It does have an FM radio and air conditioning. It is white and so plain that it looks like a service truck with the water department, which gets him teased a bit.
We have a “Sunday” car and a 12-year-old one of mine that we use for the airport. That is, until recently when Tink said, “I’m driving my truck to the airport. I don’t trust that car anymore to get me there and back.”
We had been talking for a bit about getting rid of the old car and replacing it with an SUV. This is a major undertaking for me. Whenever I’m buying something new, I have to research extensively in order to make the best decision. In an unusual turn of events, Tink and I decided separately on the same SUV. Normally, one of us has to talk the other into our way of thinking.
After a month of research, we arrived at the dealership to look at the one we planned to buy. It was a small SUV, but then Tink decided he wanted to drive the bigger one. I knew I was sunk when he got behind the wheel. I wanted the smaller one because I thought it’d be easier to drive. I sat in the back seat as Tink and the salesman talked.
Of course, the salesman was talking us up to the bigger SUV. I knew, actually, it was a better deal because it was several months old with a few thousand miles on it. We got back to the dealership.
“OK,” I said. “Give us the best price for the brand-new, small one and the best price for the used, bigger one.”
“Let’s go in my office,” he said.
At that point, Tink turned back toward the lot, saying, “I’ll just wait out here.”
Tink comes from a family where it’s gauche to discuss money.
The salesman continued to insist and Tink continued to desist. “No,” he said. “This is going to get ugly. I’ll just wait out here.”
He has learned that it is difficult to separate a Scotch-Irish woman from a hard-earned dollar. It makes him uncomfortable to watch the process.
We sat down and began to negotiate. The salesman insisted my husband wanted the bigger car.
I shrugged. “He can have whatever he wants.” I’m comfortable in saying this because I know he doesn’t want much.
“He wants you to say it’s the one you want.”
“My husband and I both have a little bit of OCD,” I replied. “And it bothers us that the gear shifter is scratched.”
He held out his hands, palms up. “It’s a used car!”
I mimicked his gesture. “It bothers us.”
And so we were off. A while later, Tink stuck only his head around the corner. “Are you through yet?”
The salesman rolled his eyes and shook his head in mock exasperation.
“I’ll come back,” Tink said.
He never returned. I had to hunt him down to give him the keys.
“I’m glad that’s over,” he said.
I laughed. “If you’d actually been there, you’d be even gladder.”
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “What Southern Women Know.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column publishes Tuesdays.