Petulant Frenzy

Zappa fans will of course remember those words: petulant frenzy. In case you didn’t know the allusion, you can just click the link.

The petulant frenzy to which I refer right now, however, is different.

They say that, when karma comes to fruition, it can often be unpleasant. However, there are times at which fruitional karma can put a smile on your face.

I arrived home from work yesterday quite exhausted. I was expecting some things to have arrived by mail, so I eagerly checked the mailbox. They weren’t there; instead, however, I found a letter from the IRS. I thought perhaps this might have something to do with my wife’s recent tax filing; she filed on her own and without reference to my income, and in a community property state like ours, that will not pass the IRS sniff test. So I quickly opened the letter.

What I found was even more of a surprise: they were questioning our 2011 tax return. In particular, the assertion was that my wife underreported her income to the tune of thousands of dollars, and as a result we now owed additional tax. They cited no fewer than four documents that had been furnished by employers to the IRS, none of which had been reported by us.

In April 2012, we filed our taxes jointly for the previous year. My wife was putting up a big stink about even doing this with me, however she did come over to the house with some receipts for various and sundry things that I could report against her various self-employment earnings. The problem, however, was that she did not have any documentation of those earnings. I do not recall why she did not bring them; she just forgot about them or something, but she did not have them. She never furnished them later, either. As a result, I took an extension on our taxes, in the hopes that she would come to her senses before six months had passed. No such luck. It was quite an ordeal just to get her to meet me to sign the tax return, but she did. This was about 2 weeks before she totally withdrew from me, starting the stonewalling that has persisted to this day. This failure to furnish required data has finally caught with her—or us.

Thus, I looked at this letter as a sort of manna from heaven. I immediately reached out to her and asked her to contact me regarding our taxes. Late that night (this timing has significance; I’ll get to that later) she responded, and I read that response early this morning. In her response, she petulantly remarked that she would not call me, and that I had to email the information to her. So, I gave her a synopsis and said that we did need to sit down to talk about this. A few hours later, the petulant frenzy spun out some more. She claimed it was all my fault, that I should just send the document to her colleague’s house, and that she refused to sit down with me to discuss this matter. My response was very measured: I told her that I did not have any of the data, that it was all information she needed to furnish, and that I did not appreciate her tone, or some of the things she said. In fact, I used the word “threat,” because that’s essentially what she was doing; I asked her to refrain from using any such further language, as I found it disturbing. This was not an ultimatum, but rather a statement of emotional transparency. I’ve yet to hear a peep back.

A bit later, I went out to run some errands, and stopped by the post office. My wife had sent me a letter by certified mail that I was not home to receive, and so I figured I should go pick it up. It was nothing other than her amended petition that she resent to me, and at considerable cost. This document was filed in violation of applicable court rules, and as such is essentially legally invalid. I already have a copy of it, and so I just disposed of it. However, in the envelope, she also included some small gifts I had given her; a couple of these were things I had made for her that she had specifically thanked me for just a few months ago. So now, she is trying to rid herself of these things. However, they are things that I can actually use, so my response will be to thank her for being so thoughtful as to giving me those things, as I could really make use of them.

You may have sensed by now that the behavior of the obstinate spouse often functions on the emotional level of a five-year-old. That’s pretty much where she’s at. As for me, I just looked at this whole situation with a smile on my face, and went out to buy a nice card that I’d put in to the letter in which I’ll be sending the tax documents. I won’t be returning those gifts to her—not yet, anyway—but I will begin sending things that I would certainly like to receive. I’ve got the next one lined up already, in fact.

When I got home from my errands, the mailman arrived, and, lo and behold, there was more manna from heaven: mail for my wife. So, I get yet another reason to send her this stuff.

They say that, in these “lone ranger” (to borrow a phrase from Mort Fertel) situations that things always get worse before they get better. I guess I haven’t yet seen rock bottom. My wife does seem very, very unhappy. Her whole life seems to have become one giant sham, and she is apparently working overtime to convince others, and especially herself, that it isn’t. She will likely soon see that a sham is a sham; there’s just no hiding from that fact.