I hate working on my taxes. I’m fine with paying them. Here’s how I think it should go down: I tell the IRS how much money I have and they tell me how much of a slice they want out of it, and we’re done. We make the deal, and you won’t hear me whining about it on some reactionary blog where people clutch their pennies to their chests as though it was their very freedom. I also hate paying someone to do something I could theoretically do myself. Theoretically, for instance, I could clean my own house. I totally theoretically could. Anyway, I don’t have an accountant.

So I signed on with the fancy tax software that I picked up for practically free from the dude down the alley a few years back. The next year I thought I might try it one more time, even though it cost a little more, not that I needed it or anything, and by now they’ve got me but good. I’d pay anything for it, and they seem to be aware of that.

They sort of lull you into the whole process by asking some nice easy questions at the beginning, just to get you to relax. They want your name, your spouse’s name, a brief description of yourselves, real chummy-like, and then once you’ve dropped your guard, they lower the boom.

“Do any of the following utterly incomprehensible situations apply to you?” A list follows.

Well, I’m not sure. Yes? Maybe? Is “maybe” an option? No? All right, I’ll drop a “yes” into the little form. Pandora’s box flies open. When did you acquire this asset? What was your cost basis? Did you ever settle with Guido or are you still hiding in your house with the lights out? Eventually I end up skulking back through the labyrinth of forms till I can get to the screen where I can check the “no” box and that makes everything go away. Solved.

Working in this manner, I end up whacking my way through the brush to the end of the questions with relief but no real self-assurance, and then the software chirps “you’re almost finished! Now let’s check for errors.”

They locate some.

“In 2009, you reported interest income from the First Amalgamated Opaque Securities, Wealth Transferal And Small Arms Sales Corporation. We don’t see anything about that this year. Would you like to delete the First Amalgamated Opaque Securities, Wealth Transferal And Small Arms Sales Corporation?”

Yeah, I sorta would. I don’t rightly remember that outfit. I don’t see any 1099s here. Could I just delete it? Will something blow up? Something’s going to blow up, isn’t it? At this point I need to walk away and consult the beer refrigerator, and after giving it about twelve ounces of thought, I decide to click the “yes” button. I do so while wincing, with my shoulders crunched up to my ears. Nothing happens.

Now I have the “all clear” signal from my fancy tax software, which wants to know if I want to shoot this whole business through the tubes to the IRS. Here comes the most crucial part of the tax preparation process: dithering.

I do not, as yet, have that sheen of confidence that I have really and truly answered all the questions right. Some of my answers may have been a little evasive, like the little shrug I used to give Mom when she wanted to know if anyone could explain the presence of glue and toothpicks on the good table. It is only prudent to wait a few days before sending this turkey flapping into the air. Something may occur to me, after all.

Nothing ever does, because I quit thinking about it. After the night terrors have subsided for a good three or four days, I go back to the software and click that last “yes” button. And off she goes.

As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.