Nothing can kill the “had a great time out with my girlfriends” buzz better than returning home to a mess.
When the kids were young, I could literally retrace their – and my husband’s – steps after a few hours away. Sherlock Linda could detect: Dad made pancakes, dripped batter on burners…child spilled syrup on table…child added Nestle Quik to milk (and counter top)…boys used seven blankets to build fort on bunk beds…someone opened 13 video cases to find missing tape…boys learned how to make paper airplanes…toddler “ate” Cheerios for snack, all over house…and so on.
Fortunately, the messes diminished as the kids aged. So, on Friday night, I was shocked to see dozens of small packages strewn across the kitchen counter. And then, upon closer inspection, I realized it was MY stuff.
Yes, the box of swag I had shipped home from last weekend’s BlogHer 13 conference had arrived, and my daughter had rifled through it for the goodies I had promised.
Every conference attendee received a bag full of stuff – promotions that companies wanted to market to the 5,000 or so, mostly female, primarily aged 35 – 55, bloggers. Other advertisers handed out their wares at alluring booths adjacent to the conference rooms.
Of course, I loaded up on lotions, dog toys, nail polish, lip balm, key chains, coffee packets, almonds, cups and even a T-shirt emblazoned with my daughter’s nickname, “Peapod” (a new grocery delivery service).
When I returned from a GNO on Friday night, Pea and my husband were watching “So You Think You Can Dance” downstairs (one of them CAN dance; the other wants to reincarnate as Gregory Hines). Pea heard my footsteps and shouted, “Mom, your box got here. Dad thinks you have a ‘Free-Stuff’ problem!”
It’s true, I love “free stuff.” And I come by the trait honestly.
My maternal grandmother was the queen of cheap. Although she and my grandfather were financially secure, Nana never passed up a freebie. In fact, she filled the candy bowl in her living room with chocolate covered mints pilfered from their Yacht Club’s hostess stand.
If that isn’t irony, I don’t know what is.
Back in the day, banks offered cool stuff – toasters, dishes, electric blankets – as incentives for deposits. So, my Pop-Pop gave Nana a certain amount of money to move around as the spirit – and swag – moved her. I know that was the source of many Christmas presents.
My well-to-do grandpa wasn’t immune to his wife’s obsession. In fact, Nana and Pop-Pop’s bridge group met in one bank every Tuesday morning for the free coffee and donuts. True story.
After Pop-Pop died, my mom was astonished to discover Nana’s stash when helping her move into assisted living. Apparently, an entire closet brimmed with useless items from banks.
Although the taste for the free treat may have skipped my mom’s generation, it certainly hit me hard. And while I don’t want to “out” anybody here, I can say that when visiting a certain older sibling in Rochester, NY, and Minneapolis, we planned trips to supermarkets known for generous and savory samples.
Here in Seattle, we have Costco. And if you time the trip right, you can enjoy a full free meal. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like or would never otherwise taste the treat offered; if it’s free, you take it.
After that, you buy the multi-pack and watch it grow mold or gather dust in your kitchen cabinet.
Several years ago, my co-blogger Carol and I enrolled our youngest kids in a weekly gymnastics class. Not being the type to hover during practice, ready to advise the coaches on training our budding Olympians, we escaped to the local Trader Joe’s every week.
The class started at noon, so we knew TJ’s samples could serve as lunch. We always circled back for a second helping, hoping the server wouldn’t remember us.
We then purchased the promotional ingredients to replicate the dish in our own homes, and often, at least in my home, that food turned moldy or gathered dust. Even worse, the TJ fare occasionally got pushed to the rear of my deep cabinets and was forgotten.
That is, until the pantry moths started hatching.
This became a multi-month problem, which began with throwing out tons of food (mostly all-natural grains), continued with wiping down the cabinets with ammonia and ended with installing fly-paper like traps from my pest-control agent.
It was probably payback for my “Free-Stuff” problem. However, from the looks of the bag of swag on my counter, I didn’t learn my lesson.
– Linda Williams Rorem, 5 Aug. 2013
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