Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Hello, Larry"

"Hello, Larry."

By Allison Adams 10-18-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 10-18-10

“How was your day, honey?”

“Well. If you must know, this morning I broke the handle off a coffee cup as I was unloading it from the dishwasher. Honestly, sometimes I just don’t know my own strength. Anyway, I decided I could fix it, but naturally I couldn’t unscrew the cap off of the tube of glue.

"You know, just once I’d like to have the luxury of being able to use a tube of Krazy Glue for more than a single application.

“Am I alone?”

“Certainly not …”

“I mean, has anyone ever been able to repair something with Krazy Glue, then screw-on the cap, and unscrew it six months later to release another couple of drops of super sticking stuff? What’s the point of the screw-on cap if we’re only meant to use it once?

“Is this a conspiracy?”

“No, I don’t think…”

“Speaking of conspiracy – is it asking too much to be able to go in to a grocery store, march straight to the meat department, and put my hands on a package containing one single, solitary, pound of lean ground beef?”

“Well, I …”

“Not 1.46 or 1.27 or 1.59 or 1.83 – just a package containing 1-point-double-zero pound of lean ground beef. Why is this impossible?”

“I don’t …”

“Clearly the butcher is using a scale, or else there would be no label affixed to the package indicating that it contained 1.32 pounds of lean ground beef. In all my cooking years I’ve never seen a recipe that calls for ‘slightly more than a pound of ground beef’, or ‘almost, but not quite two pounds of ground beef’.

“I hate to admit it, but I guess I’m just not creative enough to know how to prepare the superfluous .32 ounces of meat.”

“Well, of course you’re crea…”

“And speaking of meat – just once I’d like to make my Tuna Delight casserole, and proudly serve it to this family and hear you all go oooooh and ahhhhh! Instead you react as if I intentionally prepared something for supper that would cause you to instantly lose your appetite, and my culinary effort is met with a unanimous ‘Ugh!’”

“Uh oh. What’s for sup…?”

“And speaking of ‘ugh’ – just once I’d like to go into the grocery store, dressed in what our son refers to as my ‘Bag Lady ensemble’, to buy that one thing I forgot to pick up when I was in there just 2 hours earlier, and NOT run into everybody on our Christmas card list.

“Where are all those people when I go into the grocery store on my way home from church and I’m wearing shoes that match, and one of my earrings compliments my outfit?”

“I don’t know where they...”

“Speaking of my outfit – just once I wish I could be properly dressed for an emergency instead of having to say here, hold this dishtowel really tightly around what’s left of your finger while mommy goes upstairs and puts on something decent to wear to the emergency room.”

“Emergency room…?”

“And speaking of an emergency – I’d give anything to be aware of the exact moment when the ‘ping’ sounds, and the pinhead-sized, ‘Low Fuel’ light on my dashboard illuminates.

“I mean, really – when the kids are hollering, and the music is blaring, and the engine is rumbling, and somebody’s honking their horn… how in the world am I supposed to hear a little ‘ping’, and notice one other teeny weenie light on the dashboard?”

“Did you have to call AAA again?”

“Yes I did. And by the way, Larry say’s hello.”

Bulking Up

Bulking Up
By Allison Adams 06-11-07, Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 06-12-07

I’m sure all you Sam’s fans are happy as clams in a thirty-two ounce can now that the new store has opened.

Now you don’t have quite as far to go to buy yourself a hundred-fifty pound bag of kitty litter and a radically discounted set of steel-belted radial tires.

Now you can score a case of eighty assorted mini-quiches without spending eighty minutes on the road.

Like many of you, my parents are professional Sam’s shoppers. They embraced the cost-per-unit shopping system a long time ago.

They speak the language. For them – a trip to Sam’s is pure entertainment.

For me – shopping at Sam’s is stressful.

Once after a routine visit to their local Sam’s, my parents unloaded a number of bulky buys among which was a box that contained a sixty-pound roll of aluminum foil.

They hovered and cooed over that box like it was a new baby.

They thought it would be fun to see how long it would take them to use up all that aluminum foil, so they wrote the purchase date on the box that contained the roll.

That was October of 1982.

For the next 18 years they moved that box from one new house to the next: Houston to Honolulu, Honolulu to St. Petersburg. It was in St. Petersburg that they finally used the last inch of it.

Daddy called me long distance just to tell me that the roll was empty. It was a banner day! They went out to lunch to celebrate.

I am not making this up.

And then on the way home from their aluminum foil depletion luncheon, they stopped at their local Sam’s to buy a new roll, and the game began again.

That was August of 2000.

They’re still wrapping baked potatoes and covering casseroles.

I don’t want to sound morbid or ungrateful, but I fear I may someday my inheritance may include a partially depleted roll of aluminum foil.

Anyway, surely you see my point about their bulk shopping background. They could write a book on the subject. Frankly, I wish they would because I could surely use some guidance.

I seem to lack whatever’s necessary to make a shopping trip to Sam’s amount to anything other than a waste of an hour during which I have decided we really, really, need a case of breaded veal cutlets, a 6-pack of reading glasses, and a backyard cabana.

Last week the kids and I threw caution to the wind and visited the new Sam’s without the benefit of a guidebook.

Getting your bearings is critical to the success of any mission. Immediately upon entering I noticed the new store had a completely different floor plan from the old one, and I panicked.

My kids took one look at my clueless facial expression and scattered like ball bearings on a marble floor.

I was left to go it alone.

My palms were sweaty, but I took hold of the handle on my behemoth shopping buggy – the size of which could easily accommodate an aircraft carrier, with a deeply discounted price – and forged ahead.

For the next forty-five minutes I wandered all over Sam’s creation without putting so much as one iota inside my shopping-cart-that-ate-Tokyo. With time running out and feeling pressure to proceed to the checkout line with SOMETHING, I retraced my steps determined to redeem myself.

In the end when my kids had eaten their way through the store – one food sample table at a time – I anted up sixty-two dollars and some change for a hundred slices of provolone cheese, a double case of Gatorade, a twin-pack of pool floats, and a four-pound bag of jellybeans.

Yes, you heard me – a four-pound bag of jellybeans.

Which brings me to this: some things just shouldn’t be packaged and sold in bulk. Even my parents discovered this early in their bulk-shopping career when they made the mistake of buying a fifteen-pound drum of Jiff.

There is something very wrong about being armed with a knife and up to your elbow inside a vat of peanut butter.

Anyway … I suppose when my pocketbook and I recover I’ll probably give the new Sam’s another go. Maybe in the meantime you pros can offer me some helpful hints.

And, I’ll let you know when my folks use up their roll of aluminum foil. We’ll have a party.

I’ll bring the jellybeans.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Poor College Student

A Poor College Student

By Allison Adams 09-30-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 10-01-10

It’s been a rather lengthy process, but my daughter has finally adopted an appropriate moniker: Poor College Student.

Her epiphany came on my recent visit to see her, during which I discovered things were completely out of control.

I took her out to lunch at the Broadway Bistro as a special treat, and the maitre’d greeted her by her name and asked if she wanted to be seated at her “regular table”.

“Honey, I want to tell you a little story while we’re waiting for our waiter to bring me my tuna melt special, and bring you ‘your usual’.”

“I hope he gets my order right. The waiter who normally serves me isn’t here today.”

“Honey, I want to tell you about the life of a Poor College Student.”

“OH NO! Who is it? Is it somebody I know?”

“Its you, dear.”

“No, seriously – who is it?”

“Honey, a Poor College Student can’t afford to dine out a couple times a day, seven days a week.”


“A Poor College Student knows that a California Roll from the Chic Sushi Bar, and twice-daily $5 grande-double-espresso-skinny-mocha-Carmelita-lattes from Starbucks are not staples – they are extravagances.”

“But, I need my lattes.”

“We’ve had this talk before.”

“Then can we please talk about something else?”

“A Poor College Student realizes that even frequent visits to Taco Bell will break her budget. She knows that generic brand peanut butter is her friend.”

“But, choosy mothers choose Jiff!”

“But, you are not a choosy mother. You are a Poor College Student, and a Poor College Student must forage through the aisles of the grocery store, and suffer over the saucepan on the stovetop, just like the rest of us.”

“I don’t know how to cook!”

“It would have been nice if you’d shown a little interest in learning while you were still living at home. I can’t believe I let you go without showing you the basics. No mother should let her little birds leave the nest without making sure they can fry an egg, grill a cheese sandwich, and prepare a box of Hamburger Helper.”

“Hamburger Helper? Really?”

“If you can tackle a term paper, you can surely follow the directions on the back of the Hamburger Helper box.”

“Where is our waiter?”

“There’s more.”

“Please, no …”

“A Poor College Student doesn’t make weekly trips to the mall to purchase the latest fashion trends.”

“Are you serious?”

“Very. Also, a Poor College Student cannot continue to download the latest hits from the iTunes web site. She has to exercise complete control over her computer mouse when it begins to guide the cursor arrow on the screen toward the ‘Buy Now’ button.”

“Its just so convenient...”

“Furthermore, just because a Poor College Student is fortunate enough to have a car at her disposal, she doesn’t need to volunteer to be the chauffer every single time a group of Poor College Students holler ‘Road Trip!’ A Poor College Student understands that a tank of unleaded gasoline is a luxury.”

“I’m losing my appetite.”

“A Poor College Student doesn’t have the money to buy a ticket to every rock concert that hits the town, even though EVERYBODY ELSE bought one, and is going.”

“But, but …”

“Simply put, dear, a Poor College Student must refrain from hitting the fashion runway, hitting the road, hitting the town, or hitting the ‘Buy Now’ button, as long as she’s a Poor College Student.”

“Uuuugggghhhh! All right! I hear you! I’ll reel it in! I’ll refrain! I’ll go to the grocery store. I’ll learn to cook. I’ll make coffee in that, that, THING that sits on my kitchen counter …”

“It’s called a ‘Mr. Coffee’, honey.”

“… I’ll park my car. I’ll play OLDIES on my iPod. I’ll wear… *sigh*… LAST YEAR'S BOOTS!”

“Awwww, there-there now. It’s not the end of the world. These are really small sacrifices to make, for a large gain later in life!”

“I guess you’re right, mom. After all, when I graduate from college, I’ll be … ”

“You’ll be a Poor College Graduate, dear.”