My wife and I have been scrimping for a while. We’ve always measured abundance in terms of shopping. In a stable financial situation, my wife can, on a whim, buy a shirt at Target. When things are going well, she can buy two shirts at Target. Right now the unrestricted purchase of Target shirts is prohibited.
Our penny-pinching leads to odd conversations, like the one we had recently when I decided to make a sandwich. I don’t make many sandwiches now because sliced turkey is $8.00 a pound. When I want a sandwich, I have to cook a cheap chicken and slice it into sandwich-sized slabs. I find it a lot easier to just eat a banana, which is cheaper than gravel.
Anticipating my sandwich, I opened an elderly loaf of cut-rate bread, looked at it, and called out to my wife, “Sweetie, I think we’ve had this bread for six or seven weeks.”
My wife was moving threadbare shirts from the washer to the dryer, and she answered from the utility room, “Why? Is it scary?”
“No, not at all. It looks fine. That’s kind of scary by itself.”
“What do you mean?”
“I think it may not be real food. I mean, we only paid eighty cents for the loaf. Maybe it’s like one of those Big Macs that they left on a seat in the bus station, and when they came back a year later it looked exactly the same.”
“You’re just making that up.”
“How do you know?” I walked into the utility room carrying two terrifying slices of bread.
“Somebody would have eaten it.”
I wanted to say that nobody would eat an abandoned Big Mac off a seat in the bus station, but I realized she was right. Maybe I think we’re scrimping, but plenty of people’s yardstick for impoverishment includes “eating stray food from places where strangers’ asses have been.” Buying shirts isn’t even carved on their stick.
So I said, “You’re right.”
My wife smiled, victorious.
“Can I make you an object that looks like a chicken sandwich?”
She made a face. “Nobody even likes you.”