How Much?

I’m constantly amazed by how little or how much things cost.

I’m never in the ballpark when it comes to predicting what an item might cost when I haven’t purchased it at some point in my life.

Of which there are a lot of things. While basically being single for 30 years I never had to look at the cost of individual everyday items or long term expenses the way I do now as a married man.

For instance, why do we need hundreds of dollars worth of pots and pans and other dishes around the house? Give me some paper plates and plastic cups and I’m good…End of story. Pots, pans, and others…can’t we just get all those from Goodwill? Wash ’em up and call it good? No? Damn. Okay.

What about this full scale mirror we have in the bedroom? So big and heavy it had to be specially delivered on a big truck and off-loaded on a lift. $254, discounted from it’s original price of over $400. Seem normal? I was thinking about it. I’ve never bought a mirror at any point in my life. They’ve always just kind of been there. I’ve never thought twice about them or asked any questions. If I were to need a mirror at any point in my life I assume I’d just head over to Walmart, pick one up for maybe 10-15 bucks, carry it myself, and it would fit easily into my car. No? Okay. Let’s go the $254 dollar route then. Hell of a discount.

Then there’s buying a bed. And all the crap that goes with it.

The whole bed set-up really bothers me. You have to buy a mattress, a box-spring, the frame, the rack, headboard, footboard, God knows what else. I’m sure I’m leaving something out. Then pay for delivery and set it all up yourself. When it’s over you’re into that thing for thousands of dollars, and all it does is get banged up, spilled on, and depreciate in value and performance with each passing day.

For this one I at least have some respect and sympathy. I get the fact that people need a comfortable bed to sleep in. I don’t. But I get why most people feel that way. The price tag that comes along with that, in a marriage, is what bothers me. When I was single I spent $300 dollars on a bed and box-spring from mattress firm, when I got my first apartment in Texas shortly after moving here. And I thought that was too much. I found someone who had one of those old metal base frame things with the wheels on the bottom, (a pain in the ass to adjust) and put my bed on that. Otherwise I spent ages 18-33 on the same bed I’ve always had. When I lived in Vegas I slept in a sleeping bag, on the floor, or on the couch every night. It was never a big deal to me. I never saw the need to spend any money on a mattress, hence I never knew the cost. What an eye opener. I remember when my wife and I ordered our first bed and box. We ordered it on its own and said we’d just get the frame later. So in our room we had the box-spring and mattress just sitting on the floor. I loved it, or at least saw absolutely nothing wrong with it. Two days later my wife had had enough, said something about how stupid it was or how juvenile she felt,…and a ridiculously expensive set-up…frame, head board, and foot board…was soon on the way. She asked me what color or style I wanted when she was ordering. I couldn’t care less. I could do without it so why would I care about color or style? I could also do without seeing/paying the bill.

Diapers, pull-ups, baby wipes, and formula prices piss me off every time. These items are sort of an outlier in this article because they aren’t a waste of money. They’re obviously much needed. It’s child care. But why wouldn’t it be discounted or cheaper overall? Making these items so expensive just begs for more theft and/or child cruelty. I’ve never understood that. Make cigarettes and chewing tobacco a billion dollars if you want, but let’s keep kids hygiene items cheap. It’s gonna be a great day when Mara is officially done with all these way-to-expensive items and I don’t have to worry about it ever again.

Ever bought a vacuum? Couches? A refrigerator? An electric toothbrush? Anything from Ikea? Pens?—you’d be shocked at how much good pens cost. Just get the BIC bundle for gosh sakes. Phones cost millions of dollars these days, and you have to upgrade every three months. Please. Enough. Just give me one I can text and browse the internet with. If my phone can achieve those two functions now, there’s no reason why it can’t ten years from now as well.

The other day we put up Christmas decorations. The whole family got into it. It was great for the kids and wife. Where it wasn’t great was the pocketbook. My wife and oldest daughter hit up two or three stores to buy all new decor before setting everything up. Thank god we already had a tree. I don’t even wanna look at those receipts. Then there’s this question…What’s the point?

Don’t get me wrong, everything they did looks good. Amazing actually. I just don’t know who it benefits. I’ve never heard anyone around here preaching about how much Christmas means to them, or how deep of a meaning the religious, or any other, aspects of the holiday are to them, to where these decorations would embrace their strong opinions on the matter.

I know the kids are in it for the gifts. That’s about the extent of it.

Well maybe all the decorations are just sort of a way to show off to friends, family, and guests that come to the house???

Ah, no.

Nobody ever comes to our house. My wife’s dad has been here once. My parents once. That’s it. That’s the list. Seems like if we are trying to impress others with these decorations, we don’t have much of an audience. So again, I wonder, what’s the point? Why go out and spend money on stuff we’re gonna throw away in 2 months? You want to tell me it’s all about the experience, the family time, the act of putting ornaments on the tree together while laughing and telling stories? Fine. I’m with that. But why does the price of that yarn, bows, and ribbons have to be so high? And why did we have to buy so much?

On the flip side of that coin, dog food is cheap. It’s like 13 dollars. Anytime anyone tells me Stoney is almost out of food it never bothers me. One big bag of dog food lasts a heck of a long time. I wish human’s had that option…One big bag of food, no prep, just pour and eat. I love the price of dog food. The bag is so big I can barely carry it by myself. What an unexpected bargain. I would’ve thought dog food would be way more expensive, but, again, I’ve never had to buy it before in my life. It’s a nice little surprise.

And books. I recently bought a few books and was more than happy with the pricing. I was thinking they’d be way more expensive, but I got 4 for $57. All sports books. One about the Cowboys of the early 90’s called Boys Will Be Boys. Another about the 1986 New York Mets called The Bad Guys Won. One called Jail Blazers, about the Portland Trail Blazer teams of the 90’s and 2000’s loaded with players of questionable character. And finally a book called The Three Ring Circus, which I reviewed on in an earlier post, that is mostly about Shaq and Kobe’s relationship while feuding and winning championships with the Lakers. I was thinking the bundle would cost me over $100 and I was gonna be willing to pay it.

I guess in closing I’ll say it always just baffles me, what things cost. I’m always way off. It’s sort of like guessing ages of people. I’m terrible at that too.

I was at a friend’s 27th birthday celebration at a restaurant in Missoula, Montana about 10 years ago. The waiter came up and asked us what we wanted to drink to get started. One of the guys at the table said, well we should probably start off with some shots since it’s her birthday over here, as he pointed to the birthday girl. The Waiter said “Oh, cool. Congratulations. 30,…31 or so?” Every one at the table got quiet. Our friend looked like she was ready to cry. Another buddy of ours goes ‘no bud, 27.’ In a stern voice. The waiter then says “Oh shoot, sorry. I usually try to guess younger too just to make people feel better…” The same buddy cuts him off and hits him with a ‘get the hell outta here dude.’

A manager came over and asked what the problem was. The response from another friend was “We’re about to spend hundreds of dollars in here tonight on drinks and food, but if he’s our server we’ll be leaving right now.” We stayed, ate, and drank under the hospitality provided by a different waitress.

I feel like that waiter sometimes when it comes to all this pricing stuff. Putting my foot in my mouth when I do ask about pricing, or staying silent when I should inquire about it. Not caring about some stuff I’m expected to care about, yet getting uncommonly angry at a purchase or service that’s really no big deal to anyone but me.

Heck, I’m sure writing this article about it isn’t going to do me any favors.

No doubt the response will be, what about spending money on new golf clubs? Alcohol? Sports betting? The NFL package?…Where does all that fit into your grande scheme of spending and wasting money on meaningless things?

To that I say…Fair point.

But a good marriage is still all about give and take right?