dictionary with letter A

Arrears: (n) money that is owed and should have been paid earlier.

I was twenty years old, married and had two children–and also had no business living in an apartment of my own.

The option was to be homeless.

Since this was frowned upon (and a bit chilly) my family helped me to acquire a lodging space which only cost fifty dollars a month, but might as well have been five thousand. At that point I had no funds whatsoever.

So the landlord was very nice to us as we moved in a few sticks of donated furniture. He answered all of our questions about the abode, and even continued to be understanding when the first month passed and we had no finance to contribute to our situation.

Yes. It only took thirty-one days for us to be in arrears.

He even avoided bothering us in the next twenty-nine days, out of some inclination to be magnanimous and hopeful.

When he arrived at our door on day sixty to collect his rent, which had now accumulated to the king’s ransom of one hundred dollars, my wife and I decided to hide behind the couch and pretend we were not home, so as to avoid our “fears of the arrears.”

Periodically after that, he would visit. In order to not appear repetitious, we occasionally even hid in the closet.

After four months of arrears, he saw me one day in the local grocery store, and still trying to maintain a bit of dignity but also embarrass me, he confronted me in front of a few ladies perched near produce.

“Are you ever going to pay your rent?” he asked.

In a moment of surprising veracity, I said, “No, sir. Matter of fact, I don’t even know if I can afford this pack of bologna I have in my hand.”

Surprisingly, he laughed and so did the ladies who had paused to stare at what were certainly unwanted radishes.

After that moment of glee, he explained that I needed to move out.

I was not disappointed, nor offended, and I certainly was not surprised.

After all, being in arrears does mean that you should be prepared … to move to the rear.

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Thank you for enjoying Words from Dic(tionary) —  J.R. Practix


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