Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Wrong Kind of Lie

The loan officer called me today and asked me a bunch of questions, starting with “What kind of car do you own?” I figured that since I’m applying for a loan I should make it seem like I don’t have very much money, like when my mom and I filled out FAFSA forms for student aide in college. Back then, if everything came out on the low end on our side, the government put me on the high end of loan recipients, and I got lots of money.

That’s why even though I own a 1997 Dodge Intrepid, I told the loan officer I own a ’78 Pinto – so that she and her friends would want to loan me money enough to buy my trailer. “A ’78 Pinto?” she asked. “Really?”

I couldn’t resist. “Really,” I said. “It has a unicorn engraved in the window.”

Then she asked me to estimate the sum total of my possessions. I looked around my underground apartment: handmade clothes from Costa Rica, a collection of My so-called Life VHS tapes, four bluegrass-concert posters, several books of poetry by Wendell Berry, a lamp from a rummage sale, a mug full of beer caps.

“Um, $2,000,” I said.

“Count all of your electronics,” she said, “and all of your clothes and furniture. Count your chairs and tables. Count everything.”

“Um, $4,000?”

“We’ll round up to twenty,” she said.

Wait, what? Why would she round up?

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