07/17/05: iowa boy, part 2


July 17th, 2005

Dear Reader,

I am often taken to task for not being practical, but, rather, esoteric...whimsical...artsy. Be that as it may, I would like to share with you the current status of my parents' refrigerator, freezer, deep freezer, cupboards, pantry, back porch and basement.

The phrase most often uttered by my parents is: "...but it was such a good deal!"   My parents live by themselves...two people in a house. They have always overstocked extra items in their house/garage....because it was a good deal. At one point when I was still living at home we had five cars between the three of us. Most would say that's too many. But when my Dad saw a good deal in the paper he was duty-bound to take advantage of it. He carried the axiom "Better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it" to the extreme.

This philosophy found its way into my mother's life the day my sister got a job at SamsClub, which is like Costco or BJ's. These are mighty warehouses filled to the brim with bushel baskets of dried pasta, 5 lb. containers of garlic salt and 50-gallon drums of olive oil. Soon their arms strained under the weight of their purchases, leaving them wondering where the hell they were going to put it all. We, their adult children, wondered this same thing. Cupboards were rearranged, shelves installed, a room converted to hold the bounty against the coming famine. There was one basic flaw in the whole system: Who was going to eat all this food? They were still only two people living in one house.

It was around this same time they started to "watch their diet," making their purchases even more ridiculous. They went through bacon at the rate of 4 slices per week (2 per person). So it begs the question: Why did you buy a 5 lb. bag of bacon last week? The same with frozen turkeys, green beans, canned yams (can two people honestly get through a 10 pound can of yams?), and bread.

Bread was the worst/best example of where this system was breaking down. Since one can't eat all the hamburger buns at once, they must be frozen, but we can't eat the fresh ones now! We must eat the buns with the oldest displayed date now and eat the fresh ones later (11 months from now!). So, that is why last week we sat down to dinner with hamburgers that were frostbitten and buns that were petrified from 8 months in the deep freeze. I sat there trying to figure out what was wrong with these people as I ladled Miracle Whip out of an industrial-sized container onto the piece of granite masquerading as my bun. I asked the question and was greeted with what had become my family motto in my absence: But it was such a good deal! Pray for me.

Your Iowa Boy,