Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Real Deal

“Look,” I called to my husband across the store in Paris. “Your favorite French aftershave is only 30 francs.”

He responded that after converting francs to dollars, the same product was $5 less in Macy’s.

We’ve made several trips out of the United States since the above incident, and Hubby’s job is to make sure I am aware of the real price before I buy something. I am not a good shopper, and I’m fully aware of it. I tend to buy by need, ignoring the cost. (On the bright side, I tend to shop for need not for something to do.) Once the cashier in the supermarket embarrassed me into not purchasing the fresh red peppers I wanted because the out-of-season price was “so ridiculously high, even the Rockefellers wouldn’t buy them.”

Our guide during our most recent trip warned us to be wary of the street venders since their merchandise was genuine copies. I warned my fellow travelers that the same scarves prominently displayed by all the hawkers were cheaper in various American discount stores. With the exception of three stops on our recent trip that sell high end merchandise—and you can put your own spin as to why we had to see how cameos are made or learn how to select real leather merchandise—little time was had to buy trinkets for our family, friends and ourselves. So, when the opportunity did arise to buy meaning remembrances that were under fifty dollars, (way under), I had to shop fast. With Hubby by my side making sure I understood the actual cost of each woolen scarf I examined, the local art work I liked, or wooden carvings in the original Pinocchio store I liked, my purchases were made. Other than Halloween, I never buy bars of chocolate, especially for souvenirs. What processed me to do so in Switzerland, I can’t answer. If Hubby hadn’t taken that moment to search out a “smilee,” (see last week’s blog) I probably would have placed the “great deal” back on the pile. It wasn’t until I was home that I realized the price on top of the box was in Euros, and I spent more on chocolate for my friends and family than I do on food some weeks in the supermarket.

After unpacking, my stash of souvenirs was piled onto my dining room table. Fortunately, since Chanukah was this week, many of the “why did I buy all of this?” items could be used as gifts. Hopefully my grandchildren can figure out what to do with the mini-clothes pin that is glued to a wooden character from the story of Pinocchio. I can’t. When I bought them, I thought they were refrigerator magnets and didn’t realize my error until I started to wrap them. After I was done wrapping and giving the gifts to various people, I was left with one extra Pinocchio dangling from a cord, one key chain, one of the clothespin gizmos, and two bars of chocolate. I thought that since everything I purchased was made in Italy, my presents would be unique and certainly cheaper than what I would pay here.

I was wrong. First my son teased me for buying him chocolate filled with American whisky. Then, when I was in one of the chain discount stores the other day, there was the same chocolate I lugged home from Italy—identical brand, bar, and ingredients. The only thing different was the price. It was less here, much, much less.

I won’t tell Hubby. I don’t want to ruin his good mood. The electric bill arrived today. It’s our first bill under three figures since we moved out of our one bedroom apartment back in the sixties! What a great deal. If we leave home for three weeks, we can actually save money—as long as we wait until we get home to buy the chocolate.

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