3.24.2008

Tales of the Cheap


There’s cheap and then there’s my childhood. One of my first encounters with “discounting” was around age 8, I was standing in our kitchen in Holbrook AZ, when a heavy table leaf fell on my big toe. It hurt like nobody’s business and I couldn’t walk on it. Normal parents would have probably taken me to the Dr, instead my mother put ice on it and told me to sit on the sofa. The next day was school and it hurt so bad I couldn’t wear a shoe, this didn’t stop my mother from fashioning a sort of cast out of a plastic dish soap container (out of her stash). She morphed into MacGyver, furiously cutting the bottom half off and taping it around my foot like a plastic shoe tube. I was mortified and wanted to protest, but I knew It was futile. I walked into class with a Palmolive Soap half taped to my foot, and would have gladly welcomed death by stoning than face my classmates. Even after effectively explaining my hurt toe to their curious stares, I knew I was wasting breath, even their small 8 yr old brains were wondering “what the F was your mother was thinking?”

Apparently Halloween costumes were pricey, what else would explain my mother putting me into an old green clown jumpsuit with a plastic witch mask? I was in kindergarten and it was our annual “Parade of Costumes,” we lined up behind our teachers and made a slow trek around the school, parents came out to watch. I remember my classmates confusing stares as they watched me don my witch mask with my stained billowy striped green and white clown jumpsuit. Their poor little minds were trying to guess my costume “is she an evil clown?” “maybe she’s a confused witch?” MacGyver thankfully didn’t have to buy me a big red nose and face paint, she resourcefully found a crinkled-up confusing witch mask for free.



I grew up thinking “off-brands” were actual brands. Western Cream Corn, was a staple on our table, and boxed dry milk was added to real milk to make it go further. I remember shopping with MacGyver at Safeway, looking at Hostess brands, Trix and real Frosted Flakes, it was torture to a 9 year old who ate cannery oatmeal for breakfast. Bread was homemade, I remember sitting in the cafeteria with my opened tin lunch pail looking longingly at regular bought sliced sandwich bread eaten neatly by my peers. It wasn’t that my mother’s bread wasn’t good, it’s just that she cut it bulky thick and it crumbled a lot because it was made of nails and whole wheat, so when she made my peanut butter sandwiches it looked like a grenade had gone off on them.

My mother was obsessed with collecting green stamps, she went at it like a meth addict. I remember sitting at the table helping her paste them into books. She explained that “when I get 10,000 of these books, I can exchange them for a magazine rack.” When the big day arrived, we drove to Winslow for our exchange. She proudly brought out her green stamps and we left with our particle-board magazine rack. If I had done the green stamp math I could have quickly deduced that my mother spent in groceries and gas mileage the equivalent of 50 magazine racks, but to MacGyver that part didn’t matter because it was free.

6 comments:

Sis said...

This post makes my stomach twist and my palms sweaty. I want to laugh, but it would be hollow, because I remember all of this TOO WELL. So many times in the Bonneville Jr. High cafeteria I would open my paper sack and have one of those "grenade" (nails and wheat, lololol) sandwiches, except mine were made with a 5 inch square slab of 4 day old roast beef and a slather of mayo. I would look sideways at the hot lunch eaters, carry my lunch to the garbage can and buy a chocolate milk.

Mom DID NOT wrap a palmolive bottle around your broken toe!! And why didn't she just paint your face like a clown???? That would have been much cheaper anyway?

Again, I want to laugh along with the rest of your readers, but I can still feel the scratch of the hand-me-down polyester dresses from my sisters.....

Michelle said...

lololol oh how I remember the slab o roastbeef from Sunday dinner...the fat would be coagulated and topped with ketchup.

EEK said...

No wonder you guys are so twisted! And I mean that in a good way. Ross is just like that (cheap is as cheap does). Thank goodness he has me to balance him out.

Allicat said...

OMG, I had to run to the bathroom to pee after reading this from all the laughte.... and (being that I'm middle aged now) almost didn't make it!

This is too funny... and yet sad. Those stupid green stamps.

Thank you for sharing this peek into your past.... love it, love it.

Ashley Rae said...

Oh wow... I thought nanny was a penny pincher :)

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