You never know when your own fossilization is going to fall on you like a piano from above. For me, that moment came when a friend’s 9-year-old flipped open her brand-new cell phone to show me all the features.
It was way better than her “old one” she informed me, which was “lame and did nothing.” For the record, she had her “old one” for approximately one year.
Now, I’m a tad older than 9 and my old cell phone weighed about 400 pounds and the only time it “flipped” was if I dropped it.
My “new” cell phone is a few years old, is not pink, and has no abilities beyond making and taking telephone calls. I guess that counts as “lame” don’t you?
My accessories are being outpaced by a 9-year-old’s.
My problem is not that I am not a forward-thinking person on the forefront of all that is hot, hip and good in the world. Heavens no. My problem is I am cheap.
I don’t buy new things until the old things, break, become obsolete, or become such an embarrassment that even a member of the Clampett family wouldn’t be caught dead with it.
I was not born this way. In fact, by the time I was handling my own money in early adulthood (if by “handle” you mean giving it all to malls across the land) I was well on my way to being one of those people who not only have a really great car — but end up living in it.
At age 22, I had a Firebird (red, with tee-tops!) and a Fashion Bug credit card.
Mr. Wonderful, at the same age, already owned his own home. Fortunately, I married up and his mindset became my own.
For years we paid cash, avoided debt, and lived pretty simply. Neither one of us has ever purchased a brand-new car in our lives. We still refer to our 9-year-old sofa as “fairly new” and our “weekend getaways” take place in a tent.
For this, and a myriad of other reasons, you don’t hear the phrase “keeping up with the Seabolts” pop up in conversation much.
Mr. Wonderful is particularly pro-active in the frugal to a fault category. A few years ago he and a friend became embroiled in a friendly battle to see who could drive the smallest, most diminutive little clown car.
Friend showed up with a tiny little lozenge of a car, so small it is barely visible to the naked eye. Mr. Wonderful, nonplussed but not to be outdone, thus traded our four-door sedan for the exact same model as friend’s — only red.
If you can’t beat ‘em in fuel efficiency you should at least go for the more eye-catching “hey look at me in my M&M on wheels!” in color.
When he first began driving the car we have lovingly dubbed “the pudding cup on wheels,” he endured a lot of ribbing. So small is this car that even Mr. Wonderful’s employer expressed a bit of shock, dismay and then concern.
I’m sure he considered, even momentarily, if his protégé was squandering his earned income on off-track betting or blowing it all on loose women and gin? As if!
There’s no way loose women or gin would fit in that car. When he first started driving it, people pointed and laughed (or pointed and stood patiently by waiting for the rest of the parade to pass by because doesn’t everyone love the Shriner’s on those little bikes?)
I helpfully suggested if he just slows down and throws candy from time to time no one will be the wiser.
These days, though, people look at him like he was some sort of prescient genius and beg him to let them know if he sees another car like it for sale. Heck, if he was a single guy he could actually pick up chicks with this car now.
All chicks aside, if there is any good to come out of this new belt-tightening economy it is that it’s hip to be cheap again.
Although I prefer the term frugal because it sounds somehow more like a choice I’m making and less like we are down to “cable television versus subsisting on Ramen noodles.”
Recently, I read small car sales are on the rise and I can only say “you’re welcome.”
We’re pleased and proud to be trendsetters around here. When you see a tiny little pin dot of a car zoom past you on the highway, don’t point and laugh. Instead, just remember: it takes a big man to drive a teeny tiny car. I know because I’m married to one.