nickel and dime

It even comes in a bag.
Monday come and gone, busy again at work. Got home and found my mother-in-law had sung me “Happy Birthday” on the answering machine, complete with custom lyrics (sounded freestyle, y’all) about missing me and whatnot. A nice thing to come home to, makes a guy feel good.

Saturday night I spun a big wheel at the sushi joint and got a free bag of rice; Monday morning I got a hard rock in my chest, the kind I get when I feel bad about things… things like fucking over 9 people reveling in my honor. It’s lunchtime on Monday right now, and that sentence came to me on the drive home from work. I put “No Cars Go” on the wireless-thingy, made a yummy sandwich with Italian turkey and pepperjack cheese, and sat down to watch last night’s Arrested Development. Remember I said it was the anniversary of my birth this past weekend? And that we all went out for sushi? This morning I caught wind of some unhappiness within the group, seems the meal-ending activity of bill-settling had, in fact, unsettled some.

I hate settling bills from large group-meals, it’s tough, and people inevitably pay more than they should. It may seem so small, but I can understand the frustration of paying 4x the price of your personal repast to keep from making waves. Anyway, being that it was my birthday, I had decided to splurge and get four rolls between Sharaun and I (the breakdown of who ate what isn’t that important, but yes I ordered three and her just one). Beer, sake, and seared tuna appetizers also filled the table. In the end, people kindly decided to chip in and cover the expense of my meal (a very much appreciated sentiment). Come Monday morning, the birds were singing in my ears of discontent over the bill’s breakdown; and I was left feeling the summary heel for over-indulging and passing the cost onto the very people who had gathered to applaud me into another year of breathing.

Two paragraphs. Two paragraphs on the details of a weekend’s sushi meal and the fallout. Ahh.. the problems of the modern American man. No longer do I fret about being able to kill enough meat for the clan before winter comes, or dodging tyrannosaurus rexes while moving my nomadic family to greener pastures. No longer do I worry about my crops, polio, communist superpowers, nor the black death. Nay, what worries me, friends, what worries Joe America 2004, is the division of the damn multi-hundred dollar check from our gluttonous meal of hand-prepared delicacies and the alcohol of other countries. What’s that brain? You want me to write “fuck it” and be done with this subject? Well, let me consider that.

Fuck it.

Saturday Sharaun and I decided to go grocery shopping together. We don’t normally do this. But, I had been getting frustrated with the lack of food in the house. Not that there wasn’t food, if we were for some reason locked inside the house I’m sure we have enough provisions to last several months (we could live on rice alone for quite a while, thanks to the bag I won at the sushi joint. “Fuck it.”) My complaint, however, had been that there wasn’t any “easy-access” foodstuffs that I could enjoy for, say, a low-cost lunch or perhaps pre-dinner snack. So, we hit the local market together. In my mind, I was there to stock up on things I wanted – this was to be one trip to the grocer that I would do right. I wanted the makings for escape-from-work lunchtime sandwiches; breakfast materials; and small goods to nibble in anticipation of the evening’s meal.

Sharaun and I, however, shop very differently. For instance, did you know that, for some reason, you can only have one type of cereal in the house? Yup. And, it should be a cereal that you both can eat. Not Cocoa Pebbles, because I love it and she hates it; not Mini Wheats, because she loves it and I hate it; not Raisin Nut Bran, because despite the fact that we both like it, it costs like $12 a box. Nothing from the “Bed and Breakfast” line that looks so regal in its ridiculously small-sized and high-priced miniature boxes. Nothing with dried fruit, nothing that’s too sweet, nothing that leaves that nasty slick film on the top of your mouth (you know who I’m talkin’ to… Fruit Loops, Apple Jacks, and gum-rending Cap’n Crunch). Apparently, it’s against the law to purchase, prepare to recoil in horror at the mere suggestion, two completely different types of cereal – one of each that best suits the tastes of each eventual consumer.

I also was not aware that you are always, regardless of any rational reasoning, supposed to buy the store’s own generic alternative to name-brand foods. Even when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the “Sunshine Pride” version of Suddenly Salad’s “Ranch ‘n’ Bacon” pasta salad is repulsive in comparison, the $2 price differential is reason enough to buy it instead. I am not allowed to pay more for something that tastes better, which, to me, makes no sense. Sometimes, things cost less not simply because they are a deal, but because they suck butt as a product. There’s some truth to the saying “you get what you pay for,” even if we are just talking about mayonnaise.

Tonight we finally finished the Christmas tree. And I gotta say, it looks awesome. While we decorated, we tried to listen to the year’s best album (IMHO) over the new wireless media-thingy. Much to my chagrin, the thing almost immediately began sputtering and freezing during playback. Several times it completely restarted the song only a few seconds in, only to freeze again. I didn’t do any comparison testing, but I think the “buffering” problems may have had something to do with the fact that I was downloading mass amounts of MP3s at the same time (the entire Trans-Siberian Orchestra Christmas canon for a friend). Not that I was in any way saturating the wireless connection in downloading, since it was all happening on the wired PC, but I can’t think of anything else. It did a similar thing yesterday, but not quite as bad… I’m gonna keep an eye on it – but I’m hoping it changes its attitude because it’s a really cool idea..

In the third letter Shaine has managed to scan in and send me (background here and here), it seems I have become a 6th-grade fireworks salesman. I can remember when we discovered that the fireworks store on the island about 15 min away would sell illegal fireworks to kids. We would ride all the way there (which was a daunting ride, over a huge causeway and probably taking an hour or more), and ask to see the “back room” where all the “boomers,” bottle-rockets, and roman candles were hidden. I guess I thought being able to score fireworks made me cool, so I decided to get into the resale business (across state lines and through the postal service, no less). I doubt Shaine ever really purchased anything from me, but the letter is hilarious nonetheless.

A lot of writing tonight. Time for bed now, midnight says so. Goodnight.

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