“That’s My Husband, Bradley”
"It takes a devilishly handsome fella like that to make
personal finance so...exciting," I whispered to the woman sitting next to
me at a personal finance workshop.
"I agree," she whispered back. "I'd skip Christmas just to watch
him do my taxes -- but don't tell my husband."
"I won't tell yours if you won't tell mine," I replied, but what she
didn't know was that my husband was running the workshop.
Twice a year, once in January and once in September, Bradley's company sponsors
a free personal finance workshop in all areas where they have offices -- Seattle, Portland, Sacramento, Downtown Los Angeles, Albuquerque
(where he joined the company in 2000 before transferring to LA in 2002). The
workshop is aimed at acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones with
an end goal of taking them from being in debt or living paycheck-to-paycheck to
attaining enough financial freedom to make investments. Bradley created the
workshop ten years ago to help expand the company's scope from corporate
clients to individuals, families and small businesses -- which has now become
60% of its business.
Believe it or not, it was Bradley telling me about this workshop when we met
that piqued my interest in him -- mainly because he led with it.
At the time, Bradley spent much of January and September traveling to all these
places and setting up the workshops as the company didn't have the resources
(translation: the interest) to support this venture beyond letting him hire an
intern to help him launch it. But as the workshops grew over the next few years
and the company could tie growth and expansion directly to them, they naturally
changed their tune and many of Bradley's co-workers wanted to be a part of then
newly-created CA/CR (customer acquisition/customer retention) team.
Bradley continued this for the first five years we were together. It wasn't until
we got married in 2008 that he limited his travel to Sacramento
and his hometown of Tucson
-- handing off the other locations to the rest of his team. But once we
acquired Pierpont in 2009, he focused only on the LA workshop, which had grown
so large that it had to be expanded two, then three and then four sessions.
So instead of losing him for two months out of the year, I only lose him for
about two weeks out of those two months of the year. Three years ago, after I
was comfortable enough that Pierpont was comfortable enough being left with
friends of mine, I started attending these sessions as a show of support.
But I didn't tell him. I just registered under the pseudonym of "Erick
Davidson", showed up and sat in the back.
Now I knew about as much about personal finance as he did about media, which
was the business I was working in at the time. Still, I was impressed by his
big-picture knowledge (most people just know their particular job) and his
presentation of that knowledge in ways that were engaging and digestible to
those who had little or no such knowledge.
So I found myself moving up closer to the front so I could ask a couple of
questions. The hint of a smile he gave me prior to answering that first one was one of
surprise that I would show up and happiness that I did. At the end of the
session, I quickly and quietly ducked out and went home.
Bradley won't say it, but my presence at these workshop sessions is now more or
less required. He told me last year that he likes when I'm there because if no
one else enjoys the session, he knows that I'll at least pretend to.
"I'm so glad I came to this today," the woman said to me at the end
of the session. "This man really knows what he's talking about."
"I agree," I responded. "It's one of the reasons why I keep
coming to these workshops. This is my fourth year. And I go to every
"Really? Why?" she asked. "Isn't it just the same presentation
at each one?"
"Yeah, but he wears something different each time."
The woman examined me for a moment with an incredulous raised eyebrow. "My
guess is that you either know him personally or you're some groupie stalker who
follows him around the country."
"Well, the latter is how I got to the former. And then we got
"I thought so. You must be very proud of him."
"I am. Very much so. Believe it or not, his telling me about how he
created this workshop is what piqued my interest in him when we first met. He
actually led with this."
The woman smiled. "Well, congratulations to you both."
"But damn, I was going to bring my sister to one of these so she could
"She still can. We have a child now, so he could use another
I walked through the door to find Pierpont standing by it as
if waiting to tell me something he didn't want to tell me. I had just returned
from sitting in on Bradley's twice-yearly personal finance seminar.
"Where's Michelle?" I asked.
Pierpont shrugged. "She's not here."
"What do you mean she's not here?"
"She's not here."
"Where did she go?"
"She just left."
"I don't know."
"She didn't say anything to you?"
"She just left."
"Are you sure?"
I looked at Pierpont for a moment. "Ok. I'll give her a call and find out
I dialed Michelle's number. "So there's nothing I need to know
beforehand?" I asked Pierpont.
"Hi, Michelle. It's Mr. Moss. I came home to find Pierpont here all by
himself and I just wanted to find out what happened and to see if everything
was alright....ok....ok....I see....ok....hmmm....ok....well, that's
disgusting....Absolutely, I understand....well, feel free to list us as a
reference for any future jobs....And don't worry. We'll still pay you for today
-- with a little extra for the trouble. I'm terribly sorry again. Bye."
"What did she say?" Pierpont asked with all the unmitigated gall of a
"Really? You're going to feign innocence? Go upstairs to your room --
"But what happened?"
"The more questions you ask, the more trouble you're going to be in."
Pierpont walked upstairs while I fixed myself a cocktail -- which is my new way
of calming down before I have to deal with him after he's done something that
pisses me off. At this rate, I'm going to need to attend weekly meetings by the
time he's 15. I walked over to the window and stood by it waiting for Bradley
to come home. When he pulled the car into the driveway, I immediately walked
outside -- cocktail still in hand, opened up the passenger side door and got it.
"What happened?" Bradley asked.
"I came home from the workshop to find that Michelle had left Pierpont
home by himself. I asked Pierpont about it and he repeatedly denied any
knowledge of what happened -- even after I called Michelle and found out."
"What did he do?"
"He offered her some iced tea -- using cubes of urine for the ice."
Bradley scrunched his face. "That's disgusting. How did she find
"He kept laughing about it and then eventually told her."
"That was dumb on his part. You're not supposed to tell the person unless
there are other people around to laugh about it with you," he said
somewhat to himself as if he had taught Pierpont the finer points of pulling
practical jokes on people but neglected to tell him that one key component.
"But is Michelle okay?"
"Yes. Naturally she quit. I told her she could use us as a reference. And
that we'd give her a little extra pay for the trouble."
"What was Pierpont thinking?"
"I'm not sure. I sent him up to his room until June so we could talk about
it and figure out how to punish him. But I want you to go up and talk to him
because I'm not finished with this cocktail yet and with his continued
mouthiness he might wind up being thrown out the window. Then we'd have to deal
with the neighbors and Child Protective Services and the news media and I'm just not in the mood to
entertain guests right now."
Bradley looked at me with furrowed confusion. "You've really thought this
through, haven't you?"
"I stood by the front window for forty-five minutes waiting for you to get
Bradley pat me on the thigh as he got out of the car. I watched him walk into
the house and close the door. Ten minutes later, Bradley came back out of the
house. He open the driver's side door, closed it, took a deep breath, looked
over at my cocktail, grabbed it and finished it off.
"So what happened?"
"That little kid is a piece of work."
"What did he say?"
"He told me he didn't know they were urine cubes. So then I told him he
can stay in there until September. With his summer on the line, he finally
offered up some truth and told me that he got the idea from his best buddy Jake
-- who recently played the same joke on some visiting relatives. So then I
added another two months."
"Good. I'll give Jake's mother a call. I'm sure he'd like to share in this
With an assist from Scott Cerulli.
#33 – “The Jake Side of Things”
"That's disgusting," Jake's mother said.
Bradley, Pierpont and I were at Jake's house speaking to his
mother about an ill-advised practical joke executed rather poorly by Pierpont
-- the idea for which he told us he got from his best buddy Jake. It cost us a
babysitter, who understandably didn't particularly care for the type of humor
where you offer someone iced tea but use urine cubes for the ice instead of
"Ordinarily we wouldn't bring you into this because
even if Jake had given him the idea, Pierpont still made the choice to carry it
out," Bradley stated.
"And trust us, Pierpont will be punished for
this," I added.
"But according to Pierpont, Jake pulled this same prank
on some relatives who recently visited," Bradley continued.
"And if that's true, then we wanted to bring it to your
attention," I concluded.
Jake's mother looked over at Jake. "Is this true?"
"No," Jake responded, glaring rather menacingly at
Jake's mother raised an eyebrow at him. "You get one
shot at this."
Jake crossed his arms and looked his mother in the eye.
"I said, 'no'. Now leave me the fuck alone."
"Excuse me?" Jake's mother replied.
"Excuse us?" I added.
Jake's mother pointed a finger at Jake. "I am not one
of your friend's at school. You do NOT talk to me that way!"
"I already answered your question, so why the fuck are
we still talking about this?"
"Why don't you try telling the truth this time and then
we'll talk about 'leaving you the fuck alone'," I said to Jake.
"I'm beginning to see where some of Pierpont's
mouthiness has been coming from of late," Bradley observed.
"Why would you tell your babysitter what you did to
her? That was just dumb," Jake said to Pierpont.
"Why would you make urine cubes in the first place?
That's even dumber," I countered.
"Because it was funny," Jake said.
"No. Shit pie in a movie set in 1960s Mississippi is funny. Urine cubes in iced
tea is not," I retorted.
"Jake, go up to your room," Jake's mother said
Jake sat that for a moment, contemplating defiance.
"NOW," I commanded.
"Pierpont, go up to Jake's room," Bradley
Pierpont and Jake walked slowly toward Jake's room,
periodically looking back at us as if we were just kidding and were going to
invite them back down to watch The Hunger Games on DVD. We watched as
they walked down the hall and into Jake's bedroom.
"Close the door," Jake's mother said.
"You've got your hands full with that one," I
"More like a mouthful," Jake's mother replied.
"It's been getting worse as he gets taller. He's under this misguided
notion that height is going to make him a man -- and a man doesn't have to
listen to his mommy. He's going to surpass me within the next couple of years. That'll
"My mother is five-foot-two. My brother and I thought
we were home free when we grew taller than her as teenagers. She had other
ideas," I told her.
"My mother just started throwing things," Bradley
"I'm really sorry about all this," Jake's mother
said shakily as if on the verge of tears.
I walked over and sat next to Jake's mother, putting an arm
around her shoulder. "We really like Jake," I said.
"And Pierpont does too," Bradley stated. "So
we'd never even suggest that Jake not come over to our house anymore or that
Pierpont not come over here."
"He doesn't talk like that to you guys when he's over
at your house, does he?" Jake's mother asked.
"Not at all," I answered.
"I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing,"
Jake's mother said.
"Does Pierpont ever mouth off to you over here?" I
"Never. He's very polite," Jake's mother
"I'm glad for that," Bradley replied.
"If you ever need to send Jake over to us when he gets
like this, that would be perfectly fine," I offered.
"Or if you need us to come over here, we'd be more than
happy to," Bradley added.
"His grandmother is so much more old school than I am.
He doesn't talk like that to her either because he knows she wouldn't put up
with it. She set a different tone with him than I did. I wanted to be a lot
more patient with him than my mother was with me. But I'm certain a lot of this
is anger at having lost his dad at such a young age. I don't think he's
even aware of it. I guess he somehow blames me for it as if I had a choice in
the matter. Or would even want that for either of us."
"We would never try to take his father's place, but
we're right down the street. For both of you. Whatever you need. Whenever you
need it," Bradley assured her.
"Well, the needs we can actually meet," I
joked -- to a giggle from Jake's mother and an eye roll from Bradley.