When I was about 8, my dad decided to retire and devote himself more fully to the development of his genius. He got some sort of fellowship from the state of Michigan to make this possible . . . welfare, I think it was called. As part of his grant, my dad was awarded these little certificates with which his family could purchase necessities while he busied himself with all of the genius he could find at the bottom of another bottle.
Do they still give out food stamps to families who are as special and deserving as ours was then?
As a kid? I loved food stamps because it meant we were going to get . . . food.
That part was awesome.
But even as a kid? I knew that there was some shame involved in these weirdly colored slips of paper bound in little rectangular booklets. Knew it from my mom’s nervous energy as we waited in the check-out line. Knew it from the exaggerated and showy way the cashier would count out, and then rip out, the proper number of food stamps from their booklets. Knew from the heavy judgmental sighs of the other shoppers.
As an adult? I hate coupons.
I hate small lightweight shiny pieces of paper that promise to save you twenty cents. I hate holding up the checkout line in any way. I hate having attention drawn to the fact that I have made a purchase that is in any way designed to save money.
Which is just so stupid.
If Mark has a coupon? I will wander away from him at the check-out, avoiding the inevitable discussion of whether or not this coupon has expired, and whether it’s good on this particular package of stuffing mix, and whether or not the coupon may be used in conjunction with another discount.
Mark finds this interaction to be a neutral experience.
But in my mind? I am eight years old and the cashier is clucking her tongue at our irresponsible purchases.
A candy bar? With government food stamps? Cluck.
Where was I going with this? Oh yeah!
The other day? I discovered that our car is made of cardboard! That’s related . . . sort of . . . more irritating paper products.
Work with me, people.
I am sitting in the front passenger seat of our minivan, and we are driving to Costco (seriously, people . . . it feels like we are always driving to Costco). The car is loud with talking and music, and I lean forward to change the radio station. And in that shifting forward? There is a subtle movement beneath my leg, the feel of cardboard bending.
I sit in this seat all the time, and I have never noticed this before. Are you kidding me? The seat is made of cardboard that has somehow come loose? How does Honda get away with this?
I lean forward to check if the sensation is still there. Yup, there it is again . . . that feeling of cardboard folding beneath me. I am so going to have to Google “cardboard construction of Honda Minivan seats” when I get home. We are paying way too much for this car every month for it to have seats that rely on ill-fitting cardboard for their construction.
And then I put it out of my mind. No point in mentioning this problem to Mark at this moment. I chat with the girls, chat with Mark, sing along with the radio. We pull into the Costco parking lot. Park.
Mark turns to me, “Can I have the Costco coupon booklet?”
And then I remember an earlier conversation. Not much earlier, though.
We are climbing into the car and Mark hands me the Costco coupon booklet and says, “Don’t let me forget to bring this in with me.”
I know what he actually means is, “Don’t purposely leave this in the car so that we don’t have it when we check out, because I know you are loony that way.”
So I get annoyed and wave the booklet in the air, “I will so not forget this booklet! Look at me! I am completely on top of the coupon situation! There is no way I will forget these coupons!”
And I shove the booklet under my leg as I sit.
No way am I forgetting those coupons.
And then shortly after that? The seat turned to weird shifting cardboard beneath me. What the fuck is that about?
Is it really forgetting if your brain just refuses to take in the information in the first place?
I hate coupons.