July 25, 2003
Snipped


David thinks I might be getting carried away with the scissors.

"It doesn't have to be molecularized," he says ... his voice a mixture of amusement and concern. He is less worried about me veering into off into obsessive-compulsive territory, I think, than he is with the whole emotional-female-holding-a-sharp-implement thing. (I notice that he's remaining pretty firmly entrenched over there on *his* side of the bed, as I'm cutting.)

"I'm having fun," I grimly reply. And I give the credit card another satisfying snip.

I've never cut up a credit card before. At least, I've never cut up a still-active credit card before. I've cut up expired cards, and cards with my old married name on them, and cards from companies that have moved on to that Great Trendy Overpriced Marketplace in the Sky. Last year I accidentally cut up a brand-new Mervyn's California card before the ink was even dry on the signature block: I'd inadvertently confused it with the expired card it was supposed to be replacing. But this is the first time I've ever sat down, of my own volition, and voluntarily taken a pair of shears to a credit card that was still registering a pulse.

It feels good.

In fact, I'd say it feels AMAZINGLY good, especially when you consider that this was my very first credit card ever. Actually, this is a direct descendent of my very first credit card. The original card expired a year after I got it, and has been replaced two or three times since.  But this was my first credit card account -- something I considered nothing less than a miracle at the time -- and for that reason alone you'd think there would be some residual emotional attachment here, as I reduce the card now to a pile of plastic confetti. This is the card that funded my wedding. This card has flown me and assorted loved ones back and forth between TicTac and California at least a dozen times. This card has seen me through the past three Christmases ... the last ten or twenty Critically Important Birthdays ... gods know how many Tot emergencies and computer emergencies and First Day on the New Job wardrobe emergencies. I should be feeling sad here, shouldn't I? Or at least ever-so-slightly sentimental? But I don't. Mostly what I feel is a lovely calm sense of empowerment, flowing through my veins like liquid determination.

I should have done this two years ago is what I'm thinking as I snip.

It's like every other crappy dysfunctional non-David relationship I've ever been involved in. In the beginning it was all sweet-talk and flattery and impossible promises made on both sides. I was so stoopidly grateful for the attention that I ignored all the warning signs. Even when things started going sour -- and they didn't start going sour right away: that happened gradually, over the course of years -- I still didn't immediately understand that I'd aligned myself with the devil until I was in so deep there didn't seem any way out. I didn't see the balance of power shifting until it was too late. Towards the end of the relationship, we weren't even speaking to each other. Once a month we would do our business, quickly and dispassionately, and then we would go right back to ignoring each other for the rest of the month.

It was sort of like my first marriage. 

"I guess that's probably good enough," I say to David, giving the card one last snip, right through the stoopid little Providian logo. I haven't even used the card in over a year: this overdue snipping is purely ceremonial at this point. Sometime in the next week or two, I am going to be officially closing this ridiculous excuse for a credit card account, once and for all. It's taken me months of financial and emotional maneuvering to get to this point -- it's going to cost me an arm and a leg and another arm to end the relationship -- but it'll be worth it, in terms of debt relief alone. I've got another credit card company now: one that treats me well ... one that doesn't change the rules in mid-relationship, just for fun ... one that doesn't entice and overload me with more of a credit line than I can handle.

(One that doesn't charge me 29 fudking per cent interest.)

Satisfied that the pieces are too microscopic for even the most skilled dumpster-diving identity thief to reassemble, I scoop up the whole mess and head into the next room. For a long moment I stand there and look at the little puddle of cut-up credit card pieces in my hand: thinking about how much my life has changed in the past three years, and about how much I've learned about money in general (and credit cards in particular), and about how much smarter and better and more efficient I'm going to be about these things, from now on. And with that, I sprinkle the pieces of credit card into the swirling water, ceremoniously, like the ashes of a former loved one distributed over a tidal pool. And with that I reach out and grasp the handle firmly, give it a quick decisive tug ...

... and bury my credit card at sea.

Ohh. the storm of protest this entry created!  But I learned a lesson, and I have never EVER flushed a decimated credit card down the toilet, not even once in the years since this was written.



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does kfc issue credit cards?