Spending some money on some stuff

By Mir
July 26, 2004

Apparently today was my day to spend money on things.

First of all, this morning as the children were eating breakfast from our endless supply of poptarts (because when I run out of poptarts there is much gnashing of teeth and roaring), I realized that we had No Food. Poptarts are not food. They would work for breakfast, but I had been staring down the barrel of a grocery run for about a week. My first clue was when I offered Blue Box for lunch yesterday and Chickadee started to cry, “Not macaroni and cheese again!” My six-year-old. Said she was sick. Of mac and cheese. That’s dire straits, right there.

So I did a quick run-down of the area. No milk. No bread. No yogurt. One egg. No fresh fruit. No cheese. No ham. No turkey. No salad. No goldfish. If anyone was wanting ketchup and mayo on a Ritz cracker for lunch, I was all set; but other than that… not so much.

Off to the grocery store, where I filled my cart with various goodies that either the kids won’t eat or I wouldn’t be buying if I was a better mother. Ha! Just kidding! It’s not like I was buying bags of sugar, for crying out loud. Did you know that many popular sugar cereals are now coming in reduced sugar versions? It’s great. There are reduced sugar Froot Loops and Cinnamon Toast Crunch (both favorites around here), and they make me feel all warm and fuzzy until I remember that it’s probably the artificial color I should be worrying about rather than the sugar, and then I feel so conflicted that I have to say, “Oh LOOK! It’s Spiderman on the box!” And then Monkey commences with the Little Boy Elation Death Grip on the box and I know that despite my most wholesome intentions I could never get out of the store without purchasing that cereal, so I may as well stop worrying about it.

I bought bananas, to hide in fruit smoothies… and veggie medley, to garnish dinner plates and allow me to pretend that my children eat vegetables. It turns out that I spend a lot of money on food that I either throw in the garbage or try to pretend doesn’t exist. What a wonder that I don’t enjoy my forays to the supermarket more.

I also fell hook, line and sinker for the enormous display of “Buy 1 get 2 FREE!” on Coca-Cola six-packs. It seemed like a great way to try out the new C2. It’s gooooood. Damn them and their half-sugar soda. I already regret having tried it. I’d finally made my peace with diet soda, alternating between Pepsi One and Diet Coke with Lime. Sure, neither one is as good as a traditional Coke, but I was at peace with them and–more importantly–I wasn’t adding any calories to my life. Now they come along with their regular-Coke-tasting soda, the bastards. I will have to horde my stash and only drink them under the most severe circumstances. Like when I have a migraine. Or when I’m out of chocolate. Or if my TV breaks (for real, this time).

My grocery store also does this very amusing thing that I like to refer to as the Meat Lottery. There are regular prices on items, then there are “Shopper’s Club” discounts that change each week that you get with the little thingamabobby you keep on your keychain, then there are these random instant coupons on meat. To play Meat Lottery, you walk down the butcher’s case and look for the large red “Manager’s Special” stickers on a package of something that isn’t tripe or tongue. These coupons start at $.50 and go up to about $4.00. On a good day, a jackpot in the Meat Lottery will yield me half a deep-freeze full of supplies. Today? $2.00 off on ground beef. Good enough. Burgers for dinner!

Eventually I was done shopping, and came home and filled my fridge and my fruit basket and my pantry. Then I balled up the eleventy hundred plastic bags I’d brought my stuff home in and tried to stuff them behind the kitchen trash can where the other eleventy zillion plastic grocery bags live. The trash can jutted out of its normal spot from the force of all those plastic bags, and for the millionth time I considered throwing the extras away (no! bad for the environment!) or bringing some of them back to the store to recycle (no! too complicated and requiring of advance planning!). Oh well.

That was this morning. This afternoon, the sitter showed up, and I went out to browse clearance at a large department store. I found an adorable little necklace with Chickadee’s initial for a pendant on clearance for $4. It was surrounded by gigantic bling-bling rhinestone intial pendants roughly the size of Chickadee’s head, and I nearly missed it, sitting there all unassuming and tiny and cute. That goes into the stocking-stuffer pile for Christmas.

After some debate I also treated myself to a pair of sparkly, strappy, come hither black heels. They were 85% off. I will probably never wear them, because such shoes would be a bit of overkill for playing Meat Lottery or driving the kids to the pediatrician, I think. But they were a perfect match for a sparkly, strappy, sexy outfit I got at that same store, also at 85% off, two years ago. (That outfit? Still in my closet with the tags on. But trust me, it’s killer.) It occurs to me that I may not miss having a mate quite so much as I mourn the retirement of all the really fabulous clothing in my closet. I mean, the ex never took me anywhere, but at least I got to get dolled up for the company Christmas party once a year. The grand total between shoes and necklace? $15ish. And if you saw the shoes–and the outfit–you would totally agree that I needed them.

I picked up the mail when I returned home, and I had a package! Oh boy, a package! Wait, I don’t remember ordering anything. I don’t recognize the return address (EI Inc.?). Maybe I won something! I shook the box a little. It rattled. Hmmm. I was halfway through opening it when I remembered that I’d called in refills for all of our prescriptions to the mail-in service. That rattling would be the sound of antihistamines and other medications. Not so very exciting. And while I love the convenience and reduced cost of the mail-in service, it tends to mean a large bill all at once. Three months worth of medication for three people who are all on at least one daily med. My family is the reason drug company moguls drive fancy cars. It didn’t help that I’d used up my previous three months of migraine medication during the Week Of Migraine Hell, as my chosen migraine prescription costs about the same as cocaine.

This evening, as I was throwing about twenty burgers on the grill (oops… guess that was a bigger package of ground beef than I’d realized), I wasn’t fretting over the money I’d spent today. I was enjoying watching the kids play in the yard, practicing walking in my 4″ heels (just in case), and calling friends to beg them to please come over for dinner.


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