Peggy and I cashed $30,000 in government bonds this week. They looked good when we got them—secure, paid decent interest, added diversity to our portfolio—but the rate dropped so we converted them into a CD at a credit union. I would have bought stocks with the money, but Peggy insisted on a CD, and 5.5% is good right now.
The credit union lady was mischievous. When she got to the part of the application about how the account was to be listed—whether one of us could clean the other out, or we both would have to sign for the money—she looked from one to the other, as if to ask, “What’s it going to be—are you two gutsy enough to jump from the high board?”
Money represents ultimate trust. Some think ultimate trust is be represented by something like rope climbing with a partner, but it is not ordinarily in the self-interest of your climbing partner to kill you. Others might think ultimate trust would be represented by choosing a heart surgeon, but again, treachery would not serve the other party.
Peggy used to have a whole life policy on me. I never understood this since she could have carried on financially without undue burden, and because whole life is a lousy investment unless the insured party dies prematurely. I knew that her father had whole life policies on everyone in her family (he gave the policies to his daughters when they grew up), so I laid the decision off to her respect for his prudence. She has often encouraged me to take out life insurance on her, what with her being the breadwinner and me being barely employable. “What would you do without me?” she asks. “I would live frugally,” I answer.
So, no, there is no financial reason for either of us to murder the other unless we were so greedy as to want the house. Everything else could be had with a few clicks of the mouse. My trust in Peggy is such that if she cleaned me out, I would probably kill myself. But if I cleaned her out, I suspect she would kill me. I can just hear her talking to herself as she sat in front of a computerized spreadsheet with zeros at the bottom.
“I’ve put up with a lot from that son-of-a-bitch. He drank; he did drugs; he’s certifiably insane; twice he nearly went to jail; he never held a job for over four years; he not only womanized near home, he left me for months at a time so he could womanize in exotic places, all while I earned him a paycheck. But now this. Thirty-five years of hard work and savings gone. And for what—a new generation of whores? I’ve been kind, loyal, tolerant, and even loving for two generations, but, by god, this time I’m going to nail him.”
“Ah, trust, it’s a beautiful thing.” When I say these words to Peggy, she just looks at me. She’s never been much of a talker, and her silences are unsettling. “When you don’t talk, I don’t know what you’re thinking,” I say. “I’m not thinking anything,” she answers.
Yes, trust. Sometimes, in some situations, I think that one or both of two things must be true: Peggy’s lying (or doesn’t know her true feelings), or I’m crazy. I think this because I cannot make her words mesh with my reality. Since I know I’m crazy—regardless of whether or not she’s lying—I’m really only stumped about whether she’s lying in a given situation.