Finer Than Frog Hair

Finer Than Frog Hair

The dating advice I’m going to give you is simple. Don’t date your accountant. You may covet the way his nimble fingers clack the calculator keys, and you could kiss his face when he says, “The federal government owes you $2,317,” but the sad truth is there are only three conceivable endings to what you are contemplating:
1. You hook up and live happily ever after. Unlikely.
2. He breaks up with you, in which case you don’t trust him to do your taxes correctly thereafter. Likely.
3. You break up with him. You don’t trust him to do your taxes or anything else. Probable.

My mother. She liked these sayings:
1. Hindsight is 20-20.
2. You must be going for a degree in the school of hard knocks.

You go out with him anyway. It starts as a flirtation between your federal and state returns. He has questions. His voice sounds cute on the phone. You go to dinner, and dinner is good. Accountants, in button-down shirts, thrive on dark nights in fancy restaurants. They talk and laugh and wave their gold alma mater rings over the fine Bordeaux. You both drink too much and end up at your place.

After dinner is what they’re not good at. There’s no calculator to prop them up. In the morning light, they are too thin and their fingers are too narrow. They drink coffee for breakfast and leave. When they call, they sound strange on the phone.

“I had a nice time,” he says. “How ’bout you?”

You pause too long, and then answer, “The shrimp were fresh,” cementing the feeling everything past dinner wasn’t good, and wasn’t good for anyone. You remind yourself he’s an accountant, accustomed to making nice with the federal government.

“How about golf at the club?” he tries, but you don’t play golf so you both compromise on a driving range.

The driving range pledges hope with its sunlight, open field, flailing golf clubs, and flying balls. You see The Face from high school.

“Hey, Face,” you yell.

“Hey, Chicken Wing,” he yells back.

The accountant drives his ball past the 300-yard marker. “It’s not my real name,” you explain, as if he might fill in “Chicken Wing” on your next return. A dilapidated picker truck scurries around the range, collecting loose balls. You and the Face start trying to hit it. You miss by a mile, but The Face nails the vehicle’s passenger side door, leaving a pockmark, like a tiny crater on the moon.

“You’ll get us kicked out,” the accountant says.

“Right on,” The Face says.

The accountant deals with complicated rules and regulations from government bodies. There will be no kicking of his ass to the curb by the senior citizen in a porkpie hat who claims to manage the driving range, but mostly sells buckets of balls from the caddy shack. The accountant decides it’s time to leave. You poke The Face with your loaner driver as you walk by.

The Face’s saying from high school: “That’s a pot calling the kettle black.”

The accountant will not call you back. You worry about your state return and the fact you have slipped from ending one to ending two. To prevent further slippage, you have to call him.

“I was wondering . . .” you stammer, but can’t bring yourself to mention what you really called about. Instead you ask, “How ’bout some ice cream?”

The accountant pauses. You hear him shuffling papers. “Okay,” he says, with just enough encouragement in his voice that you ask, “My return, is it ready?” The accountant shuffles more papers, puts you on hold, but in the end, promises nothing.

You meet at Roy’s Ice Cream Shoppe in the strip mall by the Mega Mart. You get chocolate mint; he orders something complicated called chunky monkey road rock. The ice cream is cold and tasty. He smiles. You smile, too, until you notice he’s chewing too vigorously on his road rocks. His face screws up and he pulls a wad from his mouth. “What’s this?” he says.

You look at it. “Your gum,” you say.

“I wasn’t chewing any,” he says.

The accountant takes the twice-chewed gum and the decapitated ice cream cone to the high school girl at the counter wearing the pink-and-white striped hat.

“Is this yours?” he shouts, pointing at her with his gum-covered index finger.

She neither confirms nor denies. Instead, she stares.

Uncle Mort, visiting from Little Rock: “Cat’s got your tongue.”

The accountant slings the used gum and the chewed cone on the clear plastic counter top. You put $2 in the tip jar as he charges out the door. He sits in his BMW, engine running, window down.

My father. He practiced these sayings:
1. Bless your little pea-picking heart.
2. Blind in one eye and can’t see out of the other.

“This isn’t exactly working,” you say. The accountant stuffs your completed tax returns out his open car window. You grab them. He reverses out of the parking spot so quickly he accidentally rams an empty grocery cart, and sends it skittering across the asphalt. You have slipped into ending three. Next year, you’ll have to find another accountant. You think maybe you should look now. After all, no telling what this accountant did this year.

Your favorite sayings:
1. “Do as I say, not as I do.”
2. “He’s finer than frog hair.”

Wichita Sims is the pseudonym of a writer living in Oakland. She developed her simple dating advice only after she dated, married, and divorced her accountant.

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