So, my phone rang today at about 5:30 p.m., PST. I was still at my desk at work, trying to read something that had been stuck in "not good" mode all day one last time and see if things magically fell into place. The phone call killed all chance of that, but it was fine, I needed to go anyway, and the magic was simply not happening.
The name on the caller i.d. that appeared? Mom n' Dad.
Yep, they've got one cell phone between two people.
I answered, assuming they wanted to talk about the NCAA final game that would be starting in about an hour.
"Ok, guess what is making this sound, and it shouldn't take you very long to guess at all!" my mom said.
[Sound of loud whirring noise in background that sounded distinctly like a vacuum cleaner]
Somewhere inside my head:
What? They don't read the blog, right? How the heck? Would someone have told them about this? Would they have gone to buy a vacuum cleaner because of my fierce recommendation of the Bissell PowerForce? Ugh, will they get the jokes I wasn't making but meant to imply? Yes. I'm sure they would."A blender?" I said, falsely hopeful.
And was this the moment I hoped would never come in which we were about to discuss the fish crockpot?
"A vacuum cleaner?"
"YES! A vacuum cleaner! Your father decided that the time had come. He hated the old vacuum cleaner, he hated moving it, and it was always broken, so he decided we needed a new one, and here I am with this new handy dandy Hoover model..."
No. This was not the moment that my blog was unearthed by the internet excavations of my parents, unleashing a whole new realm of fear of opprobrium for me - the fear of discovery of one's self-disclosure by one's parents. If you've seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, and remember that part where the bad guys open the ark to have a peek, it's kind of like that in my imagination.
Only a little worse.
"So we had this 30% off coupon at Kohl's, and while we were looking at the vacuums we realized you can spend anywhere from 100 dollars to well over 500 dollars for a vacuum cleaner. 500 dollars! Can you believe that? Well, we found one on sale that was $97 but it was down to $90, and then we had this 30% off coupon. So then, we get a sales associate because the one we want is up on a shelf and I have already decided I am not lifting a vacuum cleaner that is heavy, that's the whole reason we're getting a new one in the first place, because the other one is so danged heavy in addition to not working!"
I realized not only were they unaware of the blog, they were also unaware that I bought a vacuum cleaner too. And that I'd admitted I loved it.
I realized that this phone call was one to add to the famous DeFrank family chronicles The many joys of bargains and values: a common sense approach to common cents. I don't even think my mom had come up for air.
"So the guy asks his manager, 'Can we sell them the floor model? We're out of the one they want,' and the manager says, 'Sure, and give them 15% off.' and your father says, 'Twenty.' I couldn't believe it! Here we are, and we already have this 30% off coupon and he's going to get another twenty off? And so we have to get the manager to agree to give us both discounts, and would you believe it, they DID! And the thing about the floor model is, it's already assembled! I didn't even need a screwdriver I just plug the sucker in!"
I flashed back to my own sentence "Two screws later and I was ready for action" of yesterday's entry. My GOD I was my parents. And what was worse, I was being outdone by them! My parents had found it easier, cheaper, and better, and, though my enthusiasm for my vacuum purchase yesterday was unbridled, they'd done it with far more personal satisfaction.
They gave me their final tally, and they did get about a $100 vacuum cleaner, pre-assembled, ready to roll, lightweight and full of power and force, for about $40 bucks, once all accounting had been done at the register. I was impressed. I told them so.
"You know, strangest thing, I bought a vacuum myself yesterday for about $45 bucks."
"DID you?!? Let me put on your fa-" "ther" trailed off as my dad took the phone.
"Really!?! Where did you do that?!?"
"Ah! It must have been on sale?" he said like Matlock digging into a witness who presumed he was there for the defense, and getting away with murder while a meddling old man asked inane questions, when actually he was about to be nailed to the wall by a Matlock who already knew how the whole thing went down.
"I think it was a rollback?"
"Yes, you have to get whatever is on sale because the other stuff they have that isn't is more expensive than you can get it elsewhere!"
We talked a little more mega savings, a little more vacuum cleaners, and just as I was about to think "my GOD how much detail can you relate about buying a vacuum cleaner without realizing it's insanely boring for the person listening to your story, even if it was a great bit of financial wisdom" for about the third time as I heard he was still going, I realized that my parents had basically just done a live-action staged reading of my post yesterday. It was really the same story I'd told. Just told with more joy and less money spent. Better savings. A better dramatic, and fiscal, pay off.
So, to anyone who was bored by yesterday's entry (and subsequently, today's as it also discusses vacuum cleaners at great length), my apologies. I assure you that the excitement I experienced is pre-programmed into my genetic make-up, and not something that I can control (unlike the height settings on my new vacuum).
Life has a great sense of humor in this way, reminding us that we're really exactly like our parents or exactly the same as that one person who drives us crazy, or that, because we are not the more expensive HEPA standard approved model, sometimes we don't have quite a strong enough filter on what might interest others.
I am really not surprised that my parents and I found the same joy in vacuum bargains. Apparently neither are they, as they called me first to share the news.
What I do now look back on as moronic is my thinking that I could ever beat them at their own game when they've been at it so much longer! A lifetime of tag-teaming sales and specials, buying one, getting one free. I've got much to learn from my elders before I'll be walking off with savings like theirs. But at least I've got the training. And the genes for it.
I saw a friend later, after talking to my parents. She asked how my weekend was, if I'd done anything fun.
"I bought a vacuum cleaner!!!" I said, immediately too excited.
"I know, I read the blog," she said, kind enough to not laugh at my main, and mundane, source of weekend fulfillment and joy.
I laughed at myself. Of course, she already knew all about my wild times, living the crazy life in L.A., sweeping myself off of my feet.
Yep. You can run, but you can't hide from becoming your parents.
At least mine know how to grab the hell out of value. And well, cheap thrills will probably always work on me. That's good news too. And a savings!