Have you seen those human interest stories that turn up now and then about super-dooper coupon clippers? You know, the mothers who feed a family of six for $3.27 a month because they are such world-class coupon collectors?
I have no patience for coupons and anyway, if you don't count ice cream, they are never for anything I eat. Only high-sodium, high-calorie, hi-sugar processed stuff that also contains a lot of unpronounceable chemicals gets discount coupons. Never fresh produce or fish or good cheeses.
That does not mean, however, that I don't keep an eye on other kinds of sales at the local grocery stores.
Over the past few years, the house brand of steel cut oatmeal at one of the local markets has become a personal staple.
Regular price for the one pound container is $3.99 and because it is my standard breakfast (stuffed with berries, banana, apple sauce and yogurt), I buy a lot of it. So when it is on sale three or four times a year at two for $4, that's a bargain and I buy four or even six canisters at one go.
One of my pet peeves is the high price of paper products and I am almost as crazed as those super coupon women about never paying more than a dollar for the “boutique” size box of tissue. When I see them on sale occasionally for $.89 each, I buy a dozen.
Generally, I keep a good eye on what I spend at the supermarket, but those two products are about as extreme as my bargain-hunting fetish goes.
Except now and then.
Few people these days sit down and have a long visit on the telephone as we commonly did in our younger years. But I have several friends with whom I do that almost every week – ones who live far away.
One 40-year New York City friend and I spend a good deal of time talking about what it's like to grow old – what our lives are like now in our mid- and late 70s, how our interests have changed, the kinds of things we do differently now.
We keep a mordant eye on how we have settled into life as, respectively, a little old woman and a little old man.
Good food has always been a top pleasure for each of us and we are both reasonably good cooks. Recently, we were discussing our grocery shopping habits.
Pushing my cart down an aisle one day, I told him, I noticed that tinned tuna was on sale for $.89 a can. Wow, I thought to myself, I should buy ten of them. Just in time, I remembered I had already done that only a few days earlier.
“Yes, yes, yes,” my friend exclaimed in solidarity. “Except I went that one further step and bought them. Then, when I got home, I saw that I already had 10 new cans of tuna in the cupboard.”
We decided together that it might be a reasonable bet he would not live long enough to eat 20 cans of tunafish.
And then, even though separated by 3,000 miles of digital ether, it felt like we were in the same room for a few moments as we shared a great, long, wonderful belly laugh at the folly of our aging memories and selves.