Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mad Money

I’ve had a wide-ranging blog entry to write for two weeks now. I don’t like writing posts which I know are going to sprint through several different topics before they reach their destination; writing them makes me tired. Even thinking about writing a wide-ranging blog entry makes me tired. So, you’ll be unsurprised to learn the copper bottoms of my pots and pans are spotless. Spotless. Even though I hate steel wool (my wonky nose thinks it smells like blood, and I always get bits of steel under my pathetic nail stubs), and scouring makes me feel middle-aged and used up, it’s still better than writing a wide-ranging blog entry.

The funny thing is, a wide-ranging blog shouldn’t bother me in the slightest, as it’s the only thing I ever write. I never get straight to the topic, or if I get there right away, I can’t stay on it. Say I’m writing a blog about how much I love cheese. I might think I’m keeping a laser-like focus on the subject of cheese, but the next thing I know, I’m writing about my favorite royal family.

[The Spanish branch of the Bourbons. All royal families married relatives, but these people elevated inbreeding to a whole new level. I think a couple of them married themselves. Goya painted a picture in 1800 of the extended royal family. Every single one of them, in-laws and all, have the same Bourbon weak chin, beaky nose and general appearance of a Shih-Tzu. Had King Charles a brain in his head, he would have had Goya executed for treason.]

But unless I write this particular blog, there is a very real possibility I might scour the copper entirely off the pots, so I’m diving in.

Wait, does someone hear the doorbell?

Or a sink dripping?

I should inventory which of Daughter’s socks still fit her…

Oh, all right.

Just let me make myself a cup of tea and some popcorn. And make sure each Tupperware container has a matching lid.

I could have avoided this whole mess had I not run my mouth -- a statement I hear myself making with disheartening frequency. Daughter takes several after-school classes with a friend, Amelia. Between one class and another, Amelia’s mother Amanda and I sit next to one another in hallways about five hours a week; typically on unmatched folding chairs in dim hallways. Amanda is sunny and smart with a waspish tongue, so of course I enjoy her company immensely.

Since we do spend this much time together, we cover pretty much every topic on the waterfront. For the last few months, however, the bulk of our conversation has been focused on the wedding of Amanda’s sister. Apparently, until her engagement, this sister was a pleasant woman to be around, fun company and capable of kindness. After the engagement, however, she became the FIRST WOMAN EVER TO GET MARRIED.

You know the type.

On a regular basis, Amanda would bring in the crisis of the moment, and I would revel in such classic melodramas as The Picking Of the Wedding Dress, or The Gap in The Cleavage Of the Wedding Dress That Only the Bride Saw [But Made the Dressmaker Fix Five Times], and my personal favorite: I’ve Picked My Bridesmaids But Now Have Decided I Really Can’t Stand One of Them. For weeks and weeks, Amanda was carried along her sister’s pre-nuptial avalanche while continuing to actually lead her own life. I understood Amanda was exhausted. Still, I must admit I was enjoying this wedding from my safe distance. As long as I’m not the one being forced to drive twenty-five miles with an anxious bride to confirm the chair bows are in fact sea-foam and not leaf green, I view it all as marvelous theater.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, Amanda was telling me about an upcoming wedding shower, and I frowned.

“Wait,” I said, holding up the hand which wasn’t picking a knot out of a wet shoelace. “Wasn’t the shower last weekend?”

Amanda shook her head.

“No, that was the lingerie shower. The shower next weekend is the kitchen shower. And we still have the bridesmaid spa weekend.”

“Don’t you find that a little…excessive?”

Amanda rolled her eyes. “You think?”

I clucked, “They could have eloped to Vegas and asked their friends send a ton of money in their names to help rebuild Louisiana and Mississippi. They could probably have had the library at Tulane named after them.”

Amanda nodded and we moved on to more pressing issues, probably how neither one of us had any idea what to feed our children that night. But almost immediately, I heard a squeaky, jeering voice in my head.

“Oh, yes, Saint Quinn, they could have sent money to help the less fortunate. Just like you did last week…oh, that’s right. You didn’t. Until you’re walking the walk, you might want to think about shutting your sanctimonious pie hole.”

I protested inwardly, “But…I help where I can.”

The squeaky inner voice countered, “You could easily help more. Do you have any idea how much money you piss away each week?”

Oh, that one again. I live a small and deeply un-bling life; my car was on the road during the first Clinton administration. Our house is what real estate agents might refer to as “Cozy”. My khakis were not worn down at the pockets and hem by J. Crew for preppy credibility. Nope, I wore them down myself. Last year, in fact. Before anyone starts a fund to replace my pants, they are soft and comfortable, and I don't wear them around people I need to impress.

In some ways, however, I am the casual spendthrift, and this bothers me more with each passing year. I buy hot tea constantly, even though it makes perfect sense to carry tea bags in the car, get hot water from a coffee place and just tip them for that. I eat entirely too many meals on the road; I’ll leave the house, which has all the ingredients for a bean-and-cheese burrito, only to buy one on the road a half-hour later. I buy fashion magazines even though whole trends come and go without their ever being remotely reflected in my closet (Apparently, gold shoes are back. I’ll be sitting this one out). I estimate that I waste at least thirty dollars a week.

Thirty dollars a week, times fifty two is…fifteen hundred and sixty dollars; over fifteen hundred dollars which could be spent improving something besides my caffeine withdrawal headache. Not to mention my Shout bills.

Also, it’s the principal of the consumption. It’s napkins and cups and lids and plates and bags and the extra gas to go the extra couple of blocks to get to the Mexican fast food place which has the kind of salsa I like. I started keeping a bag in the car to keep the recyclables, so I could take them home and put them in the recycling bin, which gave the car the ineffable aroma of stale onions, but the fact remained: I was wasting money and finite resources. Daughter will tell you that the thing which is guaranteed to get Mom yelling is waste.

In short, I was a stinking hypocrite, if a small one. Something had to be done.

Tomorrow, I’ll tell you what I did.


Blogger Sandy said...

Far be it from me to ever argue someone's internal hypocrit. However, the wedding thing is ridiculous. My sister in laws family spent 33,000 dollars on the wedding I wasn't even allowed to be in because at a well endowed triple D I couldn't wear the same (oh God, wait for it) strapess, lilac, sateen empire ball gown that the flat chested, 5'2, size 2, maid of honor (and sister of the bride, who got to pick out the bridesmaid dresses because her mother was paying for the wedding) wore. My mother was uninvited because she was planning to wear a really nice flowing pantsuit and the parents felt that was too lesbian for Iowa (though both their grandmothers showed up in pants, one in jeans!). I firmly believe weddings in this country are out of control. What ever happened to friends and family getting together to celebrate the joining of two hearts? The wedding is just one day in a (hopefully) lifetime of marraige. IF I ever get married, which watching this escapade seriously makes me doubt, I am eloping!

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sandy, your SIL did you a tremendous favor by not "letting" you to pay through the nose to wear a hideous gown that even GoodWill won't want after the event. Plus you won't cringe when you see photos of yourself at that wedding (unless they got the shot of you doing the limbo after a couple hours of the open bar). But a grandmother wearing jeans to the wedding? And those folks pretend to have any standards whatsoever?? That brings the idea of trailer trash to a whole new level.

3:32 PM  

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