I have worked full-time since 1985. Other than two maternity leaves of seven weeks each (because I had my babies pre-Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)...and quite frankly just at the advent of the "birthing suite"...so it was indeed back in medieval times)...I've worked 40 hours a week. Because of this, I have come to regard vacation days, holidays and weekends as very valuable commodities.
Normally on Saturday morning I sleep late (until 7:00 a.m.) and then putter around until about 9:00 a.m. doing whatever I want to do. Usually it is a trip to the Farmers' Market, making pancakes, checking my e-mail, and catching up on whatever has elapsed online in the eight or so hours that I've been asleep. Occasionally I write, play with the dogs, or just enjoy the quiet of my house. It is my little version of nirvana.
So, today started well...and I was sitting here thinking of the few things I needed to pick up to make banana pudding for the Fathers' Day gathering tomorrow and of course I remembered the coupon for the twenty-five cents a pound (up to 4 pounds!) organic bananas at EarthFare that has been burning a hole in my Ziploc coupon organizer. I also thought it would be great if I could see if the guy around the corner on Pike Road (yes, I live in a town called Pike Road that was named after the road that runs through part of it because this IS Alabama, you know) who sets up a grill and sells chicken halves and slabs of ribs was there so I could have lunch handled. You know...the basic "Hey it's Saturday...let's enjoy our fun day!" routine.
And then I thought it would be fun (this was my first mistake) to see if Big Dave wanted to join me on my errands. I mean...we're officially "empty nesters" this August...even though the last bird out of the nest is actually staying in the nest for at least another year. Since we have usually done everything as random units within the family structure (ie. Jill and I will shop together, Big Dave and Brian like to work on the cars, Brian likes me to make endless pitchers of sweet tea for him, and Jill and her Dad like to just hang out and talk)...I thought it would be good for Big Dave to spend more time doing things with me that I handle for the family just so we could spend a little time together.
Great plan. Horrible idea.
First of all, Big Dave is not a shopper. The man hasn't purchased any clothing for himself since 1983 with only a few exceptions. Once, when I went on a laundry strike he blew into WalMart and bought himself some underwear and some tee shirts until he could get to the washer. He also buys his own shoes (when he isn't taking Brian's hand-me-downs because he only buys shoes when the moon is in Capricorn, is blue, or something equally random.) On another occasion, he forgot to pack tee shirts for a trip to the beach (did I mention that his "suitcase" is a Winn-Dixie disposable plastic grocery sack?)...and had to go to Target at Pier Park in Panama City to purchase a couple. He got two of the most hideous shirts you can imagine (one has a Buddha on it and something about sushi) off the clearance rack.
Okay, okay, I'll give him bonus points for shopping off the clearance rack and accomplishing his purchase in under five minutes. I will, however, subtract points for not caring that the shirts were heinous.
Secondly, Big Dave does not give a rat's behind about the economics of shopping. Traveling to multiple stores (that sell the same items) makes about as much sense to him as owning 57 different types of wrenches does to me. Which is...not at all. Oh, he loves it when I bring home a deal and tell him about it (Okay, "loves" is a bit overstated...let's go with "doesn't glaze over" instead.) He just doesn't particularly want to participate in any of that deal-hunting stuff.
The hook I used to get him to agree to this arrangement was that I wanted to take him to breakfast. His choice of place. I mean, hey, after all...it IS Fathers' Day weekend and all that.
The first place we went was closed. Maybe it never opens at breakfast. I honestly don't know. It just sounded like a good idea to him that turned into a "Well, let's go with Plan B..." We went on to Chappy's Deli a mile or so away and then sat down to order.
I ordered the "Heart Smart" omelet and a cup of coffee. Big Dave got the "Sampler Platter" which consisted of three eggs, hash browns, bacon, a biscuit and gravy and a blueberry pancake. He took a piece of my wheat toast...and I took a bite or two of his pancake and biscuit. The food was good, and our server was very attentive and was all about refilling my coffee. All was well until...
I realized that I failed to use the word "decaf" in front of the word "coffee" and the sudden kick of the caffeine along with the bite or two of his pancake made me surprisingly verbal. He, of course, like most men...LOVED that (not). We discussed every topic I could think of in a five minute interval as I finished my third (?) cup of coffee.
I paid the bill, we got in the car and then went across the street to Winn-Dixie. He had already groaned about the grocery store part of this excursion because past experience has taught him that I am almost never quick about this particular errand. But not today. I only needed a few items and figured I'd be in and out in no time. And we would have been...
Naturally, they were out of instant vanilla pudding because GEE...apparently everyone else's Dad wants banana pudding too...or the stocker for the vanilla pudding was AWOL. In addition to my few items, I figured "Hey, while I'm here..." I'll use the "buy one get one free" Alpo coupon I got Wednesday night and was pleased to note that the A-1 (on "BOGO") was restocked (they were out on Wednesday night when I shopped).
After less than ten minutes, we got in line, and then I went to the customer service desk with my receipt from Wednesday to get the purchase price of one of the Crystal Light canisters I bought refunded because it was supposed to be "BOGO" and they didn't take it off my receipt. (Yes, I actually do audit my grocery receipts because I'm a nerd.) He enjoyed standing there while that was accomplished. A lot.
He figured that we were finished and that he was free....but I reminded him about the EarthFare coupon. This was part of the original disclosure of potential errands when we left the house, and I felt that it was within my rights to request that we stop there. We drove the three or so miles over and got our two lobster tails for five dollars deal, four pounds of bananas for a quarter/pound and a box of cereal for a dollar. I had coupons...and buddy, I intended to use them. Simple, right?
Of course not.
The cereal Big Dave chose was (of course) NOT one of the ones on the "special"...and so I wanted him to switch it for one that was. There were four people behind us in line...so he didn't want to take the thirty seconds it would have taken for him to sprint over there and bring another one back. I, of course, just wanted my deal! (And people in hell want ice water, too. We were equally likely to get what we wanted.)
The cashier saw that this was not going to end well...so she tore off the cereal coupon and handed it back to me. It expires tomorrow...so the odds of me getting back over there are slim to none. It will cost me at least $2 in gas to go back over there to redeem it. Dang it.
At that point I was not happy...but not as "not happy" as Big Dave was when he realized that we had to go back to Publix to track down the Jello vanilla pudding mix. He didn't understand why EarthFare didn't sell Jello and why I didn't just buy it there. I told him that they probably did...but it was likely organic and priced at three times what a box of standard Jello pudding mix would be.
Yes, his look of "SO?" was amazingly annoying. You do understand that if I had been driving this train, I would have gone to Publix right after Winn-Dixie because it is in the shopping center next door. Oh, but no.
We got back in the car and headed for Publix. He was breathing hard by this point...you know...that exhaling that they do when they are annoyed and think that you are moronic for going to three different grocery stores to save $1.79. Okay, I'll give him that...but does he not know that getting something for almost nothing is the thrill of the hunt? Who cares if you burn $3.00 worth of gas to save $1.79?
Apparently I don't. And he does.
But he relented. He headed out of Eastchase and hung a right to go to the Publix at the end of Taylor Road (three miles away) instead of going left to go to the regular Publix (a mile away) because he "Didn't think about it." Yeah, okay.
The fact that I pointed this out resulted in more huffing and eye-rolling followed by a "What does it matter?" He did an illegal U-turn (the sign was clearly there but he cared not) and went back to the Publix that made more sense because he realized that I was right. He hates it when this happens, by the way.
During that brief one mile journey, the frustration the two of us were experiencing turned into those "always" and "never" words and raised voices and a promise never to engage him in this particular exercise ever again. E.V.E.R. again.
We got to Publix...I hopped out...bought the pudding and got back in the car. Time elapsed: four minutes.
I then told him that we should have gotten the milk for the pudding at Costco while we were over there (by EarthFare)...but he didn't want to hear that at the time because he was too busy explaining why he didn't want to do what I asked (the cereal) in EarthFare. So, after Publix, we went back to Costco (in silence) and he finally parked the car.
What I mean by "finally" is that Big Dave loves to check out all available parking spaces in any given parking lot, pass by the ones that are clearly good spots, and opt for one that he can "pull through" because "who wants to back up in a parking lot when you don't have to?" Answer: Me...if the spot is by the door and not three miles north of east Egypt. Especially if I haven't passed the great spot twice on our way to a clearly inferior spot.
No, I'm not bitter.
So we go inside and I purchase milk, eggs, strawberries, romaine lettuce and sour cream. It took me six minutes to gather all of this...primarily because I had to walk the entire perimeter of the store. Thankfully they weren't sampling yet...or we'd still be in the store. I'm so not kidding.
Big Dave is the sample people's nightmare. He eats everything and never buys anything they are sampling. Ever. He tells them that he has to "ask his wife about that." Yeah, they love me too just for being related to him. He believes that he should get more than $100 worth of samples every year because that's what we pay for our membership. Let's just say that he probably gets about $100 a month. Sometimes he blows through there at lunch, buys a coke for fifty-nine cents, eats samples...and leaves. He's full...there's no tip...and all is well, right? In Big Dave's world it is.
He saw me headed for the register, but was apparently distracted by something pretty and shiny in the tool or lawn and garden area. He was no longer behind me, but I went on to checkout...fairly certain that he was sick of Costco and ready to go on about his merry way. (Especially because they weren't sampling.)
I texted him that I was "at checkout" and then proceeded, paid and waited (and waited...) so that he could see me and we could walk out together. Seven minutes later, he still hadn't shown up, and so I decided to go on to the car and sent him the text message "in the car."
Four minutes after that, he drags his passive-aggressive self out the door. Never mind that I've been sitting in the car sweltering while a guy in a minivan next door wrestles with a child seat and takes forty forevers putting a stroller together. I can't open my door because he is standing where my door would open. I didn't see my life flash before my eyes or anything, but it was a wee bit uncomfortable.
Okay, the word "sauna" would be an understatement.
And the eleven minutes that I waited on Mr. Passive-Aggressive to sashay on out? Oh, I didn't mind that at all. Nah. I lost something like four pounds of fluids waiting on him...so there's that.
We left there and went home to put away our purchases. It was a quiet ride home. The highlight was that the Foo Fighters song "Rope" came on the radio. Yeah, I wanted a rope about right then...and a tall tree.
After unloading the car, we decided to go to the little "Marketplace" thing around the corner to pick up our chicken and ribs. We ended up purchasing some okra, cucumbers, lantana, and a tee shirt and got a tour of what they are going to do with the building. It was a degree or two above Hades Lite and by this time I looked like Steven Tyler/Dave Grohl/Mick Jagger after a particularly long set.
Did I mention that I wanted a red and a yellow lantana and he wanted two red ones? I didn't?
We got home, ate some ribs, cooled down, and - of course - Big Dave is Mr. Happy again. He doesn't hold a grudge. He's just glad that all that "togetherness" is over.
Or is it?
After lunch, I realized that I had forgotten to purchase the Cool Whip for the banana pudding. Cool Whip is not one of those things you can substitute easily. I mean, who has time to whip all of that hydrogenated oil into a frenzy? Answer: Not me.
A few minutes ago he left (shockingly, he didn't invite me to join him) to take a truckload of cardboard and old shutters from a job he was working on this week to Mr. Trash Truck as an alternative to leaving them on the trailer in the driveway so that we can push that whole "white trash" envelope again. (The broken swing on the porch - the victim of a recent wind storm...okay...two months ago, the broken down white Explorer, the dilapidated basketball goal, and the fact that we still haven't regraveled the driveway keep us close enough to that edge with no additional assistance, but I digress...) He also had to pop in and pay his Home Depot bill although he spends at least as much time there as he does at home. A special trip to simply pay the bill was necessary because that makes perfect sense apparently.
And then I heard my phone ding.
He texted me to inquire how much Cool Whip I needed so that he could purchase it on his way home.
He's forgiven. I'll quit pouting at some point in time today. Maybe.
From this exercise I have learned that I will no longer ask Big Dave to run errands with me. If he chooses to go along...fine. Another day of "errand running" like this and we'll risk showing up in Ladies' Home Journal in the "Can This Marriage Be Saved?" column. I have also learned that no matter how mad I get with this man...he will get over it a lot quicker than I do. This, of course, makes me mad just knowing it.
Maybe the secret to being empty nesters is not doing everything together...especially when we never really have. I will always like different music, movies, and leisure activities than he does. And that's fine. He will never understand the logic of going to multiple grocery stores any more than I understand why he drinks his coffee black because dolling it up (or in my words..."making it taste like something other than petroleum") is "Too much trouble."
Maybe I'll just wait and let him volunteer to go along with me at some point in time...so that he will know going in that he may or may not be utilizing his time wisely. That will also spare me the overriding urge to kick him in the head.
In the meantime...I won't be sitting here turning blue from holding my breath waiting for him to ask. And if you happen to see us out together running errands or something...be afraid. Be very afraid.