It doesn't surprise me a bit that one out of every five married women squirrels away money her husband doesn't know she has. Although the majority of married women pledge that what's his is mine and what's mine is his, there are a few who subscribe to what's his is mine and what's mine is none of his business.
Who are these women who have this clandestine, seedy, back-alley love affair with their own money?One is little Suzie Sandbox, who lines up every week with her kids to receive an allowance from her husband to run the house. Anything she can cut back on and save is hers. For years, Suzie ate worms and held her breath until she turned blue. Now she is trying to save enough to run away from home.
Another is Paula Grovel, who must extract money from her husband as if it were a wisdom tooth with roots in his feet. Paula could buy Eastern Airlines more easily than she can get money for a bedroom carpet. She yearns for the day when she can roll over her Christmas savings account and split.
Then there's Maria Meaculpa. She started a money stash of her own because with every dime she spends, she has to discuss it in detail with her husband. Maria has made enough confessions to rival St. Augustine.
Sibyl Pink has the perfect financial setup. She and her husband have joint bank accounts, and he never questions her expenditures. So why does Sibyl hide her mad money in an empty Alka Seltzer box in the back of the linen closet behind the heating pad? She's a closet sinner. Her life is an open book and she has never had a mystique. Chances are she will use the money to buy her husband a fishing reel for his birthday, but it will be her "own money."
Debbie Dubious seemingly has no reason to redeem soap coupons for cash and buy toilet tissue at Discount City. Hers is a marriage made in heaven. Her husband worships the quicksand she walks on. But Debbie is suspicious of her husband, who has had a dental appointment three times a week for the past eight years. She is insecure about her future and is putting a little aside.
For the rest of us, it's hard to explain. Our husbands are generous and don't make us feel like "kept women." But there is a popular myth that to be worth something, you get paid for something. I got $3 for the first column I wrote. I would have gone to each of the subscribers of the newspaper and read it aloud for the same price. I had done something that not only carried a price tag, but was actually bought by someone.
For years, my mother has saved all of her loose change in a three-pound Folger's coffee can. She's like a woman of mystery out of an Agatha Christie novel. She never talks about it, and no one knows how much she has until one day she changes from a mild-mannered, retiring housewife into a Donald Trump. "I'm off to Vegas," she declares, "with my own money."