NPR logo TARP Wife Confessional

TARP Wife Confessional

It sells itself: From Portfolio, an anonymously-penned "Confessions of a TARP Wife." Sure, there's some delicious poor-rich-lady detail:

I've bought exactly two things this year — makeup and panty hose. If I buy a present for someone, I have the package sent to their home. I don't want to be spotted climbing into a taxi, laden with Bergdorf Goodman shopping bags.

Boo-hoo, Bergdorf bags. But more interesting, I think, is the balancing act she describes.

As you can see, being a TARP wife means, in short, making decisions according to a complex algorithm: balancing the need to look like your world hasn't crumbled beneath you — let's not alarm the investors! — with the need to appear duly repentant for your subprime sins.

Honestly, I clicked this headline looking forward to some good old-fashioned schadenfreude. But I really did end up feeling for this woman, whose husband apologizes constantly for their changed life, and who shivers when her daughter muses about going to business school. "I hope she didn't notice my instantly negative reaction, stemming completely from concern about the cost," she writes, "I cannot bring myself to shake her foundation." Now I'm guessing that's a sentiment shared by many — if not all — parents.

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