The license plate holder on her car reads, "Spoiled to Perfection." Ah, if only it were that simple. She told me when she decided to take up quilting that quilters had to be spoiled because they were special people and deserved it. "And besides," she reminds me now and then, "how do you put a price on something as invaluable as creativity and the quilt that results from that creativity?"
"People put a price on quilts all the time," I said. "Remember all the quilt auctions and the high prices? Remember all the quilt shops in Pennsylvania where we saw over a thousand quilts for sale. Every one had a high price."
"Well, you can't put a price on mine," she said.
"We already pay a price for yours," I said. "A very high price," I added. Occasionally, I try to remind her we are retired and living on a fixed income and her plan to spend more money than we have is not a good plan if we still want food, clothing, and shelter.
"We're not on welfare yet," she said each and every time.
"No, but we're not that far away," I said each and every time we came out of a quilt shop or another package came to our house from far-away quilt shops that had our number, at least our charge card number.
Today, as she planned another trip to another place (where hidden in the scenery she would find a quilt shop and someone willing to sell her her fix of fabric), I came up with an idea that I thought might work to save the remaining bits of our bank account. No, it wasn't to stop her from ever shopping again, nor was it a threatening letter to every quilting resource she had asking them to stop sending her catalogs, nor was it to take away her access to the Internet with all its quilting temptations. But it did require desperate measures.
"Quiltfare," I told her this morning as she gathered up a list of quilt shops anywhere within fifty miles of our daughter's home, that trip already planned.
"What?" she said as she put all the papers in her travel folder. She kept a folder of quilt shop locations arranged by trip. In her folder she also had a business card from every shop she had ever visited. The folder bulged.
"I'm going to write the leaders of our government," I said.
"And tell them I shop too much? You tell everybody in the world I shop too much. But you're the enabler. You tell me about the shops, you drive me to the shops, you order for me from the shops. You keep writing those stories about me and how much money I spend all the time. Now you're going to tell the government?"
"I'm not going to tell them anything about your quilt shop cravings and the fabric monkey on your back. I'm going to ask them for some forms." I didn't think they would have the necessary forms, but once I explained why they would need new forms, they would print them up rapidly, I was sure.
"I thought you hated forms," she said.
"Just income tax forms and insurance forms and medical forms," I said. I didn't mind the census form. It had been the short form, and since I am a good citizen, I had it filled out within ten minutes of receiving it.
"Does it have something to do with quilting?" she asked, but she seemed plainly puzzled as she wrinkled up her nose and squinted her eyes. She was obviously afraid I was cracking under some strain.
"The government gives out money to the needy," I said.
"We're not needy" she said. Her face relaxed.
"But we do need more money," I said.
"For your quilting needs," I said.
"You want the government to send us money for my quilting needs?" She seemed just a slight bit dubious.
"Absolutely," I said.
"And why would the government send us more money?"
"We need it ," I repeated. "And the more you quilt, the more we'll need it."
"I don't quilt that much," she said.
"It's not just the quilting. If that's all you did, everything would be fine. We might come in under budget." '
"But you have enough fabric in this house to last until the next millennium."
"A quilter needs a little extra," she said in her most serious tone of voice.
"I agree. So, I'm just going to ask the government for a little extra money."
"Just a little extra?"
"A little extra for quilters, their spouses and their families."
"You think someone in this government will take you seriously?"
"We'll get all the other quilters to support us. It will be the biggest public uprising the country has ever seen," I said.
"Quilters don't need welfare," she said.
"It's not welfare. It's quiltfare. After all, quilters work hard supporting our economy and pay sales taxes, and the shops make profits and put people to work. It's the American way," I said.
"Quiltfare?" It was still a question, but there was no longer disbelief in her voice.
"And if the government doesn't have enough money after paying all its other bills, it can print quilt stamps. You can get quilt stamps each week and use them to shop in quilt shops. You can get quilt MasterCards and quilt Visa Cards and quilt American Express cards, and whenever you buy something for quilting, your purchases can add up toward quilt stamp awards."
"So what do we have to do?" she asked. Obviously, she was warming to the idea.
"We write the government and tell all the quilters to write the government and then we get the new forms and we fill them out."
"But we'll have to prove we're really needy," she said, excitement in her voice now.
"Just show them all your bills and receipts and statements," I suggested.
"I have a lot of them," she said. "And I can get a lot more."
"More?" Uh, oh.
"I'll go shopping right now. I need some more batting anyway."
"You'll spend more money to prove we're really needy?"
"How else will we be able to get quiltfare and quilt stamps?"
How else, indeed!
Copyright 2000 by A.B. Silver
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