More than once — OK, roughly 3,459 times or so — I’ve been accused of being cheap, a tightwad, skinflint and miser. I prefer the word frugal, but family and friends prefer the word cheap. They believe I might find that more insulting and change my frugal ways.
Nah, I’m good.
This can occasionally be a source of tension in my house. For instance, I think it’s discriminatory to only want jewelry that’s gold or platinum when other metals like aluminum and stainless steel are perfectly acceptable alternatives. In fact, my wedding ring is silicone because the old silver one shrank — or my finger got fatter — and tried to cut off circulation to my ring finger. I considered cutting off the finger because I don’t use it much, but ultimately decided that it might interfere with my typing because that’s the finger I use to hit the W, S and X keys, so losing it might be considered pretty tupid.
She also thinks it’s occasionally worth spending money at uppity restaurants where you’re not allowed to wear flip-flops. A lot of people believe that the more you spend on food and ambiance, the better the meal. I’ve found that the more you spend on food, the less they put on your plate. They may dress it up with a few rare weeks and drizzle some port wine sauce or Quaker State on it, but the entrees get smaller the more you pay. I have a theory that once a dinner costs more than $200, they just bring you an empty plate, call it something French and then take it back. And because you spent $200, you figure it must’ve been pretty special but still might need to hit McDonald’s on the way home.
Fortunately, she has embraced one aspect of my cheapness — purchasing some things that have been gently used. Such items would include exercise equipment, vehicles, furniture and underwear — you know, the basic used goods. She likes to occasionally search for used items on Facebook groups and its Marketplace.
Recently, she decided we needed bicycles at our house for our 6- and 3-year-old grandsons so that we don’t have to haul theirs back and forth if we want to ride. Sure enough, she found a couple of very nice bikes for just $20 each. Other than almost getting shot while buying them, it was a rather easy process.
We went to get the first bike after work one night last week, which is bad idea No. 1 because the sun now goes down in the late afternoon instead of staying up until the evening like normal celestial bodies. It was too dark to see the falling-off address numbers on the crooked mailboxes on this rural road. It was a mix of houses, trailers, meth labs and serial killer hideouts, but, you know, $20 is a sweet deal on a boy’s bike.
We had to turn around a couple of times to find the correct poorly addressed house with the bike but finally made it. It was dark when we went up to knock on the door, and a vehicle quickly pulled into the drive behind us, blaring its lights at us before a fellow jumped out.
“Well, this is it,” I said. “This is where my cheapness truly is the death of me.”
Then a shadowy figure emerged from overgrown shrubs in a dark corner of the yard.
“Oh, maybe that’s the one who’ll kill us,” I said. “The suspense is killing me.”
The driver then yelled, “Can I help you?!!!” It was a cop. Apparently, this Nana and Pop in their SUV looked rather suspicious. It turns out that he lived there, and the shadowy figure was his wife who had neglected to tell him that she was selling the bike. I was glad he didn’t shoot first and ask questions later, but he still seemed pretty angry that we had visited his home. If only he knew I didn’t like to visit — but I do like a good deal!
Still, it taught me that we need to be way more cautious in these transactions. Hang on …
“What’s that honey? You wanna buy a scooter on Facebook Marketplace? No, Crazy Eddie doesn’t sound like a safe seller! Oh, $25? Well, I guess it’s worth taking one more chance. See if he’s got any underwear available. Or a bullet-proof vest.”