Other than when Hubby needs suits or shoes or I’m totally disabled, he avoids shopping like a plague with two exceptions—bulk food and Home Depot-like stores. Unlike me, he hasn’t changed size since we were married almost fifty years ago, so I’ve learned if I want him to look presentable, I need to do the shopping. To him as long as his clothes are clean, fashion is irrelevant.
Even though I’m not a lover of oversized garage-like box stores as he is, since I’m the cook and he’s the “lugger,” this is the only kind of store you’ll find us both in at the same time. The other day my cell phone rang. “Can you talk?” the voice at the other end asked.
“I’ll be tied up for at least two hours,” I answered. “Can it wait?”
“Where are you?”
My friend laughed. She’s heard my rants about shopping not being a couples activity for my husband and me, and how instead of taking at most a half hour, when I’m with my spouse, shopping can be two hours. He likes to read labels and examine every item on display even if we have no need for it. I’m convinced the super garage-like ambiance is intentionally designed to attract anti-shoppers like Hubby. They know if clothes are displayed like tires, a man will look and even do impulse shopping.
My husband, who will shop in the local supermarket when I can’t, remembers what each item we buy on a regular basis costs. Thus, he likes to point out how much money we save when we buy in bulk, such as a year’s supply of paper towels. Through the years, we’ve learned that bulk is not always the best deal. After having some items ferment in the closet or turn green in the refrigerator, Hubby now checks the expiration dates before he puts a package of cheese that will last six months in the wagon.
For the past few years I’ve been complaining that the weight of the laundry and dishwasher containers is more than I can physically handle. My words went unheeded until a few months ago when my husband was recovering from back problems. The look on his face in the store when I told him we needed bleach, laundry and dishwasher soap told me he feared they were too heavy for his now fragile back. The bargain was too much for him to pass up as I advised him to do, so he asked a nice young man who was nearby to put the oversized boxes of into our wagon. Another person offered to help us load our car—an advantage to looking old is if there are lots of nice young folks nearby, one will offer a hand. However, none lives with us. When we got home, I refused to help lift them out of the car trunk. “I told you in the store I can’t pick it up. You’re on your own.”
Hubby winced with pain when he lifted the two humungous bottles of bleach. “You’re right,” he said after straightening out with great effort. Then he dragged the carton across the garage. “Never again. The savings isn’t worth it.”
Out of pity—after all he admitted I was right and what more can any wife want—but more importantly no desire to visit the emergency room, together we lugged the other dead-weighted items inside the house. To make sure he wouldn’t forget his proclamation, for the next several weeks I had him pour the soap into the dishwasher until that backbreaking container was reduced to a weight I could handle without needing to lie on heat for an hour afterwards.
Recently we went shopping for goodies we needed for the non-barbeque barbeque we were hosting. (I cook the food before hand because too many barbeques have been rained out, and in Florida May heat neither of us enjoys standing over hot flames to cook.) As we strolled up and down the aisles with the crackers and other items we needed, Hubby put box after box into the wagon. The wagon looked as if we were entertaining 40 and not 14. I pointed this out to him, but he retorted that the food “would last forever” and more importantly, we were saving money. Finally, I asked him where we were going to put all of his oversized non-perishable purchases.
“Don’t worry,” he assured me while placing a years worth of individual applesauce cups on top of the crackers, pretzels, nuts, and chips, “I’ll rearrange your pantry to hold it all.”
He kept his promise. He packed my pantry tighter than a can of sardines with more than half of the items hidden from view. When done, he asked what was for lunch.
“Tuna,” I said. “As long as you take out the can and find the mayo.”
My gut feeling is my husband’s love affair with excessively large quantities of food that don’t get used up quickly is over. Cost is not always worth, and that’s his saying, not mine!