I have 12 more days of attempting to get my son to eat mystery canned items until that first paycheck comes in. He doesn’t yet understand this is a sport. Or more realistically some sick game teachers play each year. The game of “How to pretend not getting paid all summer will work”. It actually might work if I could keep pretending until payday- but just around this time each year this big old "woe is me" routine begins. I start to conserve energy by not moving off the couch. This saves in gas money but, the spread on my bottom might cost more in a pants size upgrade. It seems somehow a biological survival instinct type response just the same: if I don’t use much energy, I won’t be hungry, if I am not hungry, I won't eat much. It will take longer for starvation to kill me off, because my body has gotten accustomed to the minimal caloric intake and metabolic output. Right?
I begin to look for food in the cupboards that have never been on my shelves. French chocolates, or Swiss chocolates. Anything chocolate. Two days ago I made soft chewy chocolate cookies, using most of my powdered dutch cocoa reserves. What can I make with stale, store brand cheese crackers? If I make them into powder can I recycle them into something glorious and delicious? Highly doubtful, since the main purpose of purchasing these crackers, seems to be to let them get stale so that I can throw them away. But not in this week’s trash, I have to save room in the last of the prepurchased dump approved bags for only the smelliest of items.
I dig through the freezer imagining that the filet mignon that I never put there is under the ice-crusted, freezer-burned, mud-colored, mysterious leftovers that were going to get me through this summer of not working. Hey, maybe if I eat this strange item, the ensuing digestive problems will counterbalance the afore-mentioned bottom spread and pants size increase.
While packing for a camping trip two weeks ago, my son sternly said, “This is not the time to get rid of all your expired cans and food items!” It’s true I was foraging through my cupboards, the camping trip was a last minute plan and we needed to skedaddle to make a ferry that was a 2 1/2 hour drive away. We made due with the freeze dried Mexican Chipotle Chicken and Lime and Cilantro Chill and Rice mix (campers are not so bourgeois these days). Maybe he does understand this game, he did save those expired goods. Certainly we have entered the time for eating expired canned goods. Garbanzo beans with possibly discernible cheese cracker crusted tuna cakes will be served on Wednesday. Creamed mystery casserole on Thursday…
Of course I start to use deductive-planning-reasoning at this point. I try to imagine myself making it through without reaching this bit of desperation. If I had only gotten the small snowball in New Orleans- I would have saved 72 cents times 3 snowballs. But I would have wanted more, and then I might have spent additional money on something much more extravagant, like say, the alligator cheesecake at Jacque Imo's. I don't really know what that means, alligator being a sort of meat and cheesecake being in the dairy group. As a native New Yorker, you just don't mess with the cheesecake. I didn't need the beach chair for the oil laden beach in Mississippi. $15.00 down the tube! Oh, I probably didn’t need to get that second glass of wine last week for $11.00, but I also probably wouldn’t have laughed so hard and almost traced the musician from Ottawa’s tattoo. Almost. But a worthwhile and enjoyable memory just the same. These savings would have gotten me two more meals, and only 10 needed days of survival strategies. The three pieces of art I purchased? Absolute necessity. The car parking expense at the airport definitely could have been eliminated with better planning, or less pre-vacation anxiety and misplaced items that caused a later than expected departure time. The parking expense would have gained me 8 more meals and possibly a movie. That would have left me with 2 meals to forage for. I did ponder floatees and doggy paddling across to our campsite rather than the $20.00 per person ferry fee, but I wouldn’t have made it to the end of the jetty, and the cost for replacing water logged camping equipment would not have justified the adventurous attempt at frugality.
O. K. so, now I need to get myself back in the game. Finish Strong! Let’s see. I still have frozen falafel from a Trader Joe’s run last spring. I can probably whip up some tahini sauce from that old can of almond paste, or is that marzipan? I can use the last of my basil for pesto sauce. If I sit near the river, maybe my boat will come in, or a big old bag of money may float by from all the storm stirring.
In any event, I have re-trained myself in survival skills which are much needed to approach a new school year. I am ready for anything! Game On!
Note to self: I will not be available September 16th, I have dinner reservations and if I am lucky and my son behaves, maybe a trip to the super can-can sale at ShopRite, it's never too early to plan for survival.