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.
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.
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?