That was the name of the tall, dark, devastatingly handsome young cashier who baptized me into the waters of couponing at Albertsons a mere four hours ago.  Any of my three faithful readers who may have known me when I was younger, thinner, and much cooler may be surprised to learn that, three kids and ten pounds later, it has indeed come to this:  I now not only clip and use coupons, I proudly use that word in the singular as a straight up verb.

A few weeks ago I attended a free “coupon class” in my neighborhood, wherein many of my good friends and I sat on couches and floors, mesmerized by the silky promises of a shiny young mother who spends roughly four dollars a week on groceries.   In spite of the thick index charts and multiple logarithms necessary to understand the process of saving money, we were all smitten by her presentation and gleefully subscribed to multitudes of Sunday papers, within whose deep, heavy folds the coveted coupon books hide.

And so began my neighborhood’s–and my personal–obsession with couponing.  It’s kindofbutnotreally easy, kindofbutnotreallyfun, and you get to feel smart and virtuous as you smugly scan your coupons while the poor shmuck behind you pays full price.  I’d say if I added up the hours I spent finding, organizing and shuffling coupons, then divided those hours by the money I saved, I’d come up with a personal salary of at least $2.50 an hour. Can’t you see why I do it?  That’s the highest income I’ve grossed in over eleven years.

Think of the ‘ole frog-in-the-boiling-water adage: the frog doesn’t know it’s boiling to death because the water’s heating up gradually.  So it’s been with my steady decline into Dorkiness.  It started with a young marriage to an engineer (social suicide, obviously), followed by a well-intentioned but sorely misguided haircut, which then led directly to three kids, a minivan, and moving back to my small (sworn off forever) hometown.  Add to that the heavy influence of local stay-at-home-mom friends/church friends/PTA friends/kids’ friends’ moms’ friends and all of my mother’s old friends, and you have the Perfect Storm of Geekiness brewing with no George Clooney to save me from myself.

The upside?
a) Saving a lot of money.  (I guess.)
b) Meeting men like Cliff R., whom I’ve decided is my (other) soulmate.  (I think we’re allowed at least two.)
c)  I now get to use words like freebies and doublers and coupon fraud. My husband laughed out loud the first time he heard me talk about Coupon Fraud.  I personally don’t see what’s so funny about Coupon Fraud.  It’s real.  It’s out there.  I’m telling you.

The downside?
a)  Logarithms.
b)  Feeling flustered and hurried in front of the other customers at the checkout line–people I used to feel quite attractive around by comparison.  (I shop at Wal-Mart.  Draw your own conclusions.)
c)  So far, I’ve mostly just amassed outrageous quantities of cold cereal, all of which are the kind I never used to buy for my kids (think 13 grams of sugar per serving.)  But I’m getting each box for a dollar, so the fact that we now have cereal for dinner four nights a week somehow makes sense.
d)  Our paper carrier, whoever he/she is, is incapable of delivering the Sunday papers to my home.  So far I have gotten one Sunday paper on a Monday, and one Tuesday paper on a Tuesday.  That’s it.  Whoever the carrier is, he/she simply cannot get it right.  I’ve called.  I’ve been polite.  I’ve made two trips to the downtown office to pick up the papers myself.  And still, this Sunday: no papers.  He. She. Cannot. Do. It.

Enough grumbling.  Let’s get back to Cliff R.

Oh, ladies, he was dreamy.  Think Jude Law in a grocer’s apron.  And so polite.  He kept saying, “Oh, I just need your Albies card again really quick.”  Albies–could you die with how adorable that is?  And I kept falling all over myself, apologizing for the fifteen “doublers” I was using, in addition to the twenty original coupons (I’m not kidding), and he just smiled suavely and said, “Oh, no problem–we just want to keep everyone happy.”  I’m pretty sure he winked at me when he said this.  And then he apologized profusely when he accidently overcharged me 50 cents on two boxes of pasta, but I just smiled prettily and said, “Oh, don’t worry about it…that will be my little tip to Albies for how patient you’ve been with me tonight.”  I batted my eyelashes and shrugged really cute-like when I said this, hoping he’d see how young these gestures made me look.  The height of the drama came when, because of his obviously powerful position, he pulled his own little gold key out of his apron pocket to unlock the register, not needing to call any managers over for the usual “coupon overriding” nonsense.  He just smiled confidently and worked that till like it was nobody’s business.  It was awesome

And here’s the kicker, my three faithfuls:  Albies was out of a few things because of the massive sale, so Cliff R. had to write down my name and number so he could call me directly when they got the products in.  I will then return to the store and meet him at a predetermined destination for our second rendezvous.  I’m considering it an official first date, and I think Derrick is really happy for me.  (I mean, I think he would be if he knew about it.)  And now the only thing I need is wardrobe advice from you all.  Would you go funky-casual or over-the-top glam?  And should I be embarrassed that the products I’ll be collecting from my beloved Cliff R. are toilet paper and Fruit Loops?

42 thoughts on “I love you, Cliff R.

  1. Make that 5 readers. Gee…I wish you would write more often.

    I, too, just discovered the guilty pleasures of couponing. I didn't pick up a Sunday paper this week, so today when I was in Kroger's I was happy to see they still had some there. I picked it up, and it said "Not for Resale" on it. They wouldn't sell it to me…because the newspaper guys were going to return (to deliver the upcoming Sunday paper), and take back the ones they "couldn't" sell. They were just sitting there on the rack, waiting to be "returned." Hmm…I felt a bit cheated.

    So, seriously…can you write blogs more often? I need more laugh-out-loud moments throughout my week!

  2. Oh no – I'm laughing too hard! You didn't tell me about this. Stop taking care of your kids and house and call me more often. Of course Doug knows him, why wouldn't he? Was Cliff in Young Men's when he went to church with Doug & Denise or was he like 5? How old is this person? I was imagining a dreamy teenager but it's not adding up. And since when does Denise have a blob? I mean, blog? Nobody tells me anything anymore. Bunch of Kennewick snobs.

  3. After spending a week "couponing", I was done. I couldn't justify all the time spent for the small amount of money I saved. If you have learned a better system, please educate me. I would be happy to enter the realm of dorkiness right along with you if it means saving a few bucks. Oh and for the record, Michael, my bank teller,…let's just say I've been tempted to overdraw my account just so I have an excuse to go and get my "2nd date" with him!

  4. my brother saved his retainer so he could eat captain crunch while he was in college. maybe i already told you that. your writing is so fabulous, and it makes me laugh because i can just hear you telling the story.

  5. Jennifer, you are so hysterical and I LOVE IT. You made me laugh today, and I needed too. I am currently suffering from Serious Syndrome where I feel completely weighed down by everything when I really could spin it slightly and see a more humorous side. Thanks for your witty take on coupons, the slow decline (I think I used to be cool, but I can't remember), and dreamy store employees (oh my goodness we have one at our Costco!).

  6. I started the coupon thing last week, FINALLY! My kids have never seen so much food at our house. They are loving the cereal for three meals a day. I hope it won't end. They keep asking me, "did you have a coupon for that?" everytime I buy something. AND my answer is YES. I have not purchased anything without a coupon in the last week, including a new laser printer to print my coupons! I am addicted.

  7. the gig is up! how funny that doug knows your cashier friend.
    too bad my dad isn't running things at the tri-city herald anymore. he'd make sure your coupons got to you.
    maybe YOU should pick up a route. you and i always had delivery skills on a hot july afternoon in our swimsuits. that'd get you all the coupons you could want. i'm just saying.

  8. Jenn, LOL!!!!! So… I am not receiving my Sunday papers either. I call every Monday morning and complain nicely and they say "I'm sorry. I've extended your subscription a week. " Well they could extend my subscription every week for the rest of my life, but it won't do any good if I never get the paper!Definitely do a Celia… get a push up bra, low cut top with a little of the bra lace showing above the neck line, tight jeans, super high heals and fluff your hair. Oh and dont forget heavy makeup. If all that doesnt do anything for Cliff R. you otta get a rise from derrick. oops. no pun intended.

  9. Oh, no. We never got sugar cereal. I had to ask for Trix for my birthday every year!! However, I think dumping brown sugar on the no sugar cereal kind of defeats the purpose of not eating the high sugar cereal…??? I think that's where my dad's eating habits overrode my mom's attempts at feeding us the healthy stuff.

  10. Jennifer – I love your blog! I know I say that all the time but you can always tell you are a write! Nice work flirty with the grocery guy – even better that your brother could break the secret to cliff or that your husband finds it so funny!

  11. LOL, hilarious Jen! Ummm, is Cliff R at the Albertsons on Clearwater? Because I saw a very handsome guy there today who said hello to ME. I was dressed just like Cara suggested so I *think* I might have stolen Cliff R. From you. Although I didn't notice his name tag…

  12. Yes, we want a picture of Cliff R. As for wardrobe… you must go all-out Celia, my friend! 😉 Hmm, the creepy cable guy gave me his personal cell number once so I wouldn't have to call the 800-number for another service call… Now I make sure Ken is home when the cable guy comes over.

  13. OK; I admit to couponing, Jen. But, ask my kids – I never did the sugar cereal thing! I sorted the coupons and was determined no fancy- schmancy marketer would ever get me hooked on something I didn't WANT to buy! I know; I'm anal! Again – ask my kids!

  14. Marsha, you are one of my favorite "old"–as in from the old days, not personally old!–friends' of my moms. I love your comments. It's so nice to have FB to keep in touch w/people it would be hard to talk to otherwise. Now admit it–I bet you were a crazy couponer in the good 'ole 19th ave days!

  15. Oh, you know I will, Heather. Except did you hear the latest?My brother called me a second ago and said he KNOWS Cliff R. personally! They are friends from the old basketball days! I could have DIED. Is everyone online witnessing this humiliation? I never thought my dreams about Cliff R. would come back to haunt me. I'm praying no one else reading this knows (or is) Cliff R. If so, I guess it's better to just put my heart right out there for him to break quickly and be done with it. I sometimes forget how small the Tri-Cities is and that my brother knows everyone who has lived here for the past twenty-five years (we call Doug "Kenny Kennewick.") This is a good lesson for me. I need to be a lot cooler about my blogging. And about my life in general.

  16. Welcom, Carrie! I am honored to have someone as bright and funny as you reading my blog. And don't worry–I'll only shave up to the knee. (Gotta be a little provocative, you know.)

  17. Oh my gosh, Denise, Doug just called me and told me he knows Cliff R…I am MORTIFIED! I thought I could write away about this mysterious stranger, forgetting for a moment that my brother knows absolutely EVERYBODY in the Tri-Cities.

    If you're out there and you know/are Cliff R., please just delete this post. I do try to retain a LITTLE dignity, for the sake of my children.

    (And thanks for commenting, Denise–why can I never find your blob?)

  18. And you must have comments from one of yourmother's "old friends" – (hey, you accepted my friendship!). So, I LOVE reading your FB blogs! I think in the next chapter of your life, you need to submit this stuff for publication! My second thought (once in a while, they come in multiples) is that the manufacturers are WINNING! They have to be thrilled that yet another generation of moms are getting hooked on couponning and, more importantly, the stuff you NEVER would have purchased had you not been in posession of that $50 Off Coupon!!! Go Fruit Loops! (Tampons are an exception, of course!) Love ya, Jen!

  19. I tried the coupon thing for about a day. I, like Charlene, lack the organization and time management skills. Just think…. if I still lived there the three of us could "coupon" together. Oh, what fun!!!! Love you and miss you!!!!

  20. Hey I know Cliff, he went to church with Doug and I back when we lived in Richland. You will have to teach me and Doug how to use those coupons because we know nothing about them. Keep the laughs coming!!!

  21. I had a companion on my mission who loved coupons and he had a full wardrobe moving box full of free deodrant and toothbrushes and he paid to have it shipped all over Michigan each time he was transferred. When I informed him that the cost of driving to the store and the cost to ship this unusally large box might and I emphasied might for his sake be costing him more money then just buying a toothbrush every few months he just scoffed at me and laughed. Oh Well now I know the allure was just to much and maybe he had a secret crush on a Clifferina R. and hopefully it wasnt a secret crush on a Cliff R or else I should have been more careful about getting in and out of the shower.

  22. You now officially have FOUR faithful readers! Congratulations! Now I'm really wishing I had been able to go to that coupon class. It sounds like it was a life-changing event! Good luck with your second date. Just remember not to shave your legs–you don't want it to go too far!

  23. LOL! I love reading your comments. Hilarious. And with your rendezvous with Cliff R…I'm thinkin' its time to bring back an oldie but a goodie. What about going Retro Glam…black parachute pants, black pumps, a Guess sweater, and 6 inch bangs. You rock my world.

  24. As I sat in line at "Albies" just the other day the only pride I could muster was the fact that I had only spent $10 on fruit snacks…on 10 boxes…yes sir, all be it generic but fruit snacks nonetheless. The liitle old gal behind me had an entire whad/wad (?) of double the value coupons and I just stared with envy. I kept thinking, maybe these coupon queens are on to something. You my friend are yet another shining example to that notion. Thanks for that. And BTW (do you love my FB lingo) we are firm believers in Fruitloops around here. You can't go wrong with a sugar cereal that is listed in the "Eat this Not that" book….cereal section. Its surprisingly nutritious for sugar in a bowl…and oh the fiber.

  25. I WISH the paper person would forget to deliver my paper one Sunday! I am drowning in coupons and have used two so far. Organization and time management are not my strong points. Stephen is LOVING the piles of newspapers all over the house.I am happy you have met someone who understands!

  26. Giana, I love that you read and comment! How come we live in the same town and only talk through FB? I'm finding that's how many of my friendships are these days–it can't be healthy.I know what you mean about the photos of groceries–I don't know if I'll ever achieve that kind of couponing status, but I dream about it. And you're right about the tampons–they make those things way too expensive because they know we have no choice! So exploitative.

  27. I don't bother reading many people's notes, Jen, but yours are hilarious, so thanks for making me laugh out loud yet again!!! 🙂 I've noticed the sudden coupon craze on FB…even moms posting neatly arranged photos of their purchases along with the enormous sum of money saved.There weren't many things in the photos that I thought we need, but I admit, the tampons coupon would be worth clipping.

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