No Sugar Added: Putting the sexy back in taxes

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Recently, I reluctantly purchased something with accordion pleats, reinforced gussets, and elastic closures. No it was not, as one friend suggested, a corset. I bought folders. Legal-sized folders. If you are over the age of 21 and own anything beyond a toothbrush, tickets to a Lady Gaga concert and perhaps a winter jacket, you know precisely the folders of which I speak.

The tax folders.

The majority of the American adult population is clearly joined in tax-preparation-avoidance solidarity. We stand together in brother and sisterhood.

That said, and with the drudgery of taxes notwithstanding, many people love the actual purchasing of office supplies. I, dear reader, am one of those people. When it comes to pure pleasure, a trip to Staples is, for me, akin to a romp down Fifth Avenue. Or Rodeo Drive.

The pristine packages of No. 2 pencils. The reams of crisp, blindingly white paper. The envelopes with the string closures. The jet-black pens with .007 extra-fine points.

It’s enough to set my heart aflutter.

I am floating on a cloud nine of tax preparation supplies. Until I get them home. Then, those items sit perched on a tabletop, staring at me much the way a tiger stares at its prey.

I am in a continual state of both fear and awe. Procrastination is my friend.

The days between Jan. 1 and April 15 are the only ones during which I would like to see the women’s rights movement go back to, oh, 1848. I’d prefer to be completely non-liberated. Or, at the very least, repressed. In a cute 1950s or 1960s television sitcom sort of way.

Those 14 weeks are when I daydream of being The Beaver’s mother, or perhaps Laura Petrie. I bet Wilma Flintstone didn’t do the family taxes. And Zsa Zsa Gabor filling out IRS forms? Please.

I have fantasies of wearing a starched apron – perhaps in a cheery floral pattern – bringing cups of steaming hot coffee to a Hollywood husband, as he slaves over our taxes until the wee hours of the morning. Ironing his shirts would be much more palatable a chore than calculating the depreciation on our ’61 Oldsmobile.

Granted, there are people who attempt to lure me over to The Dark Side. By that I refer, of course, to computerized tax preparation software. I generally resist these people, unless they are doing my taxes for me, thereby leaving me out of the equation completely.

I admit to owning a version of QuickBooks. I felt cool, buying the little box with the little disk purported to solve all of my record-keeping woes.

All it has done is given me more work. Now I must translate my information to yet one more medium.

Granted, I am an artist. I am a writer. I have a fondness – OK, an obsession perhaps – with imported papers and watermarks and writing implements. And don’t get me started on those dreamy ledger books with the thick covers and the graph paper inside.

I am not completely anti-technology, but let’s just say that when I buy paper for my inkjet printer, it’s the heavyweight stuff, 28 pound. I admit it; I love the sound of the paper bending as I crease it with my fingernail.

So it distresses me greatly that people want me to input all manner of facts and figures onto a computer screen, hit the right buttons (this is where I screw up) and voila – a record of my financial life, emblazoned upon a hard drive.

How unromantic.

I mean, the only things that have ever made tax time tolerable for me are the sensory pleasures. The feel of the paper. The sound of the pencil sharpener. The scent of the white Staedtler Mars eraser.

Truth be told, I’ve always loved punching numbers into my calculator. It turns me on.

I say, it’s time to make tax-time sexy again. Tactile. Whatever does it for you. Graph paper. An abacus. Pretending you are June Cleaver for a couple of months.

Whip up a percolator pot of Maxwell House. I’ll see you on the other side of April 15.

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No Sugar Added is Cape Elizabeth resident Sandi Amorello’s biweekly take on life, love, death, dating and single parenting. Get more of Sandi at or contact her at [email protected]