Tuesday, April 13, 2010

the dollar store

Ever since my dad discovered the Dollar Store, things have changed at the homestead, and not always for the better.

Visiting over the holidays means dedicated kitchen duty; they’re springing for the food and booze, so I’m more than willing to stack the dishwasher and scrub the pots and pans. But it’s hard to clean anything when the sponges fall apart, the dishwashing liquid makes your hands peel and the towels are made of thinly woven polyester.

And the Dollar Store has found its way into more than just my parent’s kitchen. It’s permeated throughout the house; infiltrated their lives and the effects have been felt far and wide, by everyone visiting their home. Screwdrivers that snap when you use them, suntan lotion that leaves you red-faced and worst of all, horrible $1 CDs that showcase the worst of the worst of elevator music from the early 60’s (think Lawrence Welk on an off day).

But this isn’t some new sense of frugality, only recently discovered. Throughout the years my parents have done a number of things to save money. One year, my father cancelled the cable for the summer.

“Dad, don’t you have to pay to have to install it again later in the year?”

“Yes. But I still saved fifty dollars!”

Keep in mind, my folks live at the beach. On the beach. One might bring up the point that there are other things that they could do to save fifty bucks over the course of a summer. But one might not be invited back for the next holiday, so one stays mum about the whole thing.

And I have to admit, if only to myself, that there are other reasons, beyond stale salami and no-name Fritos, why I hate the Dollar Store. It’s coming to grips with the fact that my mother, who would never set foot in a place with “EVERYTHING IS .99!” signs screeching from the plate glass windows, doesn’t really have a say in the matter. Hasn’t been able to do the shopping for years.

It’s being honest with myself about the one thing I refuse to accept or acknowledge.

So rather than facing up to the facts, I choose instead to indulge my father and razz him mercilessly about the stacks of books of games where the crossword puzzles don’t have enough spaces for the words and the root beer tastes like fizzy chalk, while my mom giggles and nods in agreement.

It’s just easier that way.