The Lighter Side: Memories of their middle class membership

I spent so much time recently stewing about all the banking bigwigs’ multi-million dollar bonuses, that I neglected to notice my own depleted finances. Had they been siphoning money from my account to help pay for their golden parachutes?

No, I guess I should have figured that if both my husband and I have been home everyday, no one was out earning a paycheck. Apparently, we weren’t on vacation.

So, for the third time this year, we were in need of our own financial bailout.

Most of our middle class luxuries had already been cruelly axed when the recession, oops, I mean, economic slowdown first began. Iced mochas, weekly car washes and monthly visits to the dog groomer were already distant memories.

The prolonged WGA-studio squabble brought even harsher cuts — gone were exotic trips to the dry cleaner, canceled were our premium channels of cable. A moratorium was placed on post softball game take-out dinners. Instead we were forced, like pioneers, to make meals out of the scraps of food found in our kitchen. Oh, how I pine for a pizza.

“What’s left?” I asked my husband in despair. “What else can we possibly cut?”

My husband scanned the bills and muttered, “I don’t know, I just don’t know,” over and over again. Frankly, he hasn’t been the same since he had to sell off his Dodgers season tickets.

“Here’s one,” I said with naive enthusiasm. “We could cut out Netflix. We never watch the movies we order.”

“Great. That will save us $9.73. Should we lock that up in a CD or invest it in the kids’ 529s?”

This was no time for sarcasm. “Let me see that!” I examined a bill, eyeing charge after charge for groceries and gas until finally my eyes fixed on an unusual entry.

“Wait, what’s this ‘Vin.Club Ship August’? It’s for $140! What is that?”

Sharing my shock, my husband grabbed the statement.

“What could that...Oh, I know. That’s our wine club shipment. You know, from the winery owned by that sweet couple up in Paso Robles, on our anniversary trip?”

“We enrolled in a wine club?”

“Yes, it was actually your idea. Remember? It was such a bargain with the discounted case prices and free shipping, plus they offered invitations to special events at the winery located only four hours from our home.”

I remembered. I believe it was the fourth winery we had visited that day and apparently my judgment on financial issues was a little fuzzy.

“Well, we have to cancel it, right?” I offered half-heartedly, remembering the lovely bottle of 100% cabernet we enjoyed with our baked ziti last weekend.

He nodded in agreement, but I could tell, he too was in mourning, lamenting the loss of the last vestige of our middle class lifestyle.

“Maybe we could save somewhere else? “ I brightened. “Yes. I’m sure we could — on groceries. We could grow our own food, or start hunting even. Those annoying deer, the ones who eat our roses — I bet there’s a lot of meat on those big bucks.”

I frantically scanned my house for more clever ways to save. “ These statements from our broker are meaningless now, let’s burn them for heat! The Pottery Barn catalogs — we could put them in the bathroom and stop throwing our money down the drain on two ply softness.”

I could tell my husband was not entirely convinced.

“Honey, look at it this way: If we cancel our membership, and other people do the same, then that poor couple will have to close their winery. Then, they and their employees will be out of work and they won’t be able to shop at Walmart and then Walmarts will start closing, then those people will be out of work.”

“It’s a big domino effect that would only hurt our economy in the end. I think, as patriotic Americans, we have to keep our wine club membership. It’s the right thing to do.”

My husband silently walked out of the room. I worried he wasn’t on board with my private economic bailout plan. When he returned opening a bottle of wine, I realized he had come around.

“To healing America,” we toasted.

Now if we could convince these ousted execs to invest their millions in patriotic wine club memberships, we’d really be on the road to recovery.

KRISTEN HANSEN BRAKEMAN is a resident of La Cañada Flintridge. E-mail her at


Copyright © 2019, La Cañada Valley Sun
EDITION: California | U.S. & World