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Tax season is well into it’s swing upon us.  I mean, it’s not as if we swing too high then we’re gonna’ flip over and piss our pants, or something equally dramatic.  This time of year can be very stressful to some in ways that may induce nightmares, or even recollections of memories at the most inappropriate of times.  Maybe you’re just trying to be your best self at work, but really end up in your head reliving the horror of finding out that a new friend when you changed schools in 4th grade has an odd habit of urinating himself.   You stayed friends, because you were sad and alone too, but then you met his parents and it kinda’ started to make sense.  So, you started playing the tuba and hanging out with skaters instead.  Those tubas and skate parks cost tax dollars though!  I mean, c’mon!  Aren’t we trying to make ‘merica great again?!

These are problems.  Aren’t they?  I mean, I could go full on Karen with this shit!  No, I can’t, just kidding.  I’m a white guy who has really only met one Karen, and she was a really good person.  What one considers a problem varies so much, depending on who you talk to or who you are.  Does having to choose between going without electricity or water each month for a year compare to not having internet connection for 3 days?  How?!  Does loosing your parents at 10 compare to loosing your parents at 50?   Does eating at Fogo de Chao compare with dining at a combination Pizza Hut/Taco Bell?  How could such comparisons of apples and oranges be measured?  Is this a question for humans, or AI?  Or both?  Perhaps neither.  But we’re probably gonna’ ask ourselves such shit anyway, and try to enlist the power of terminators to try to fucking figure it out, aren’t we? 

So, let’s begin with “prom=problem”.  My sister and I were talking about taxes and prom tonight, and it got all mixed up.   Neither of us were from means to politely say so, meaning we grew up poor.  Some hate that, some love that.  Hate the haters, love the lovers… (inuendo absolutely intended!)   Basically, we’re both waiting for our refunds this year, and both grateful that our survival isn’t dependent upon it (been there, done that, opposite of a pleasant experience).  Our conversation started out as texts then we started actually talking, which works well for adults who live in different time zones. 

I recalled my senior year of high school when I somehow managed to arrange prom dates at 2 different schools.  My plan impinged upon receiving my tax return at just the right time.  Like many teens not from means I worked during high school to buy fly threads, CDs, and hair products (dorkus maximus class of ’97, nice to meet you!)   But that year my corsages, tux, limo, and reasonably priced chain restaurant meal was withheld!  Oh, fuck!  (feel free to replace with ‘oh, snap!’)   Prom was never meant to be for me.   My date moved on quickly to some better-looking guy but ended up having her own story which is none of my business to tell.  Sis texted back something about how she could relate, but instead of “prom” her text read “problem”.   That felt about right!

Well, I ended up being gay and had a real nice sweet slow dance with a guy for the first time at a formal event that my university’s LGBT student group sponsored, and it kinda’ made up for that bullshit a couple years ago.   A few years later than that in my mid-20s I found myself riding in a car with a wealthy friend of a friend who laughed at me for recalling this very story.   I felt both pride and shame in that moment.  Part of me wanted to say fuck it, but part of me wanted to delve into it.   What do we call that?

I love that there’s an internet-based moniker for the type of person who would laugh at someone who ended up not being able to afford going to the prom, but let’s not call her Karen.  I could think of a bazillion dozen other names for adult poople who throw tantrums over trivial problems, but here is neither the time nor the place, or is it?  Like I said, the only person I knew named Karen was a truly good person (and no, she wasn’t the prom date).  Maybe my problem is with people who label Karen?   Or, maybe it’s talk to text translator algorithms that equate prom with problem?  I think it’s both, and a lot more.   

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