the sound and the frugality

If I tell people that I graduated with a degree in English, I rarely mention that it was with an emphasis in creative writing. I’ve found that if I share that bit of biographical gruffle at a party, it invites the response: “Oooh, I’ve always wanted to write a book.” I never follow-up with a question because if you wait long enough, the person will add, “I want to write about my life.”

But this person doesn’t want to write a book, this person just wants to out everyone who’s wronged him. There are some people whose lives are so compelling and phenomenal that they truly deserve a space on the autobiography shelf, but then there are others who just want to devote chapters to the Man Who Cut Me Off in Traffic and Times When My Family Should Have Hugged Me Instead of Make Fun of My Snaggletooth.

I wouldn’t write an autobiography, I would just write Cliffs Notes so you could skim through the time my cousin Geraldine forced me to call a telethon because New Kids on the Block was performing and she wanted to talk to Donnie and you could read the one life-summarizing sentence: I am cheap.

Sometimes this are-you-kidding-me-with-that-price-habit overcomes me and I still want to believe this is 1998 and a tall vanilla latte should not cost $3.25 and a free gift with purchase should come with every purchase (I’m looking at you LANCOME!).

The last time I took my car into the shop, the mechanic reset the battery which set off some anti-theft device in the tape deck. I don’t even know what the proper term for that is, the poor vehicular vocabulary I have. When the “check engine” light goes off, I pop open the hood and go, “Engine…check!” It flashed, “ENTER CODE,” and I would have entered the security code, only, I didn’t have it. I don’t think I ever did. I rifled through all my car paperwork, checked the manual, thought of countless combinations to unlock my sweet 80’s mix waiting to flood my car. I tried randomly pressing buttons, but I only had so many chances before the stereo would reject my entries and completely shut off. And it did.

I went without a stereo and figured that I would just buy it later.

This was in December.

These past few months haven’t been too terrible only because I bus most of the time and if I’m in my car, it’s only for errands or to drop Nathan off at the babysitter’s or drag racing, but who has time to listen to Depeche Mode while drifting a Dae Woo?

And my husband, who has been the most flummoxed at my extreme thriftiness (or laziness–the words are interchangeable), picked me up from work on Friday in my car. Before I had time to nag him about what happened to his car–an accident? another ticket?–he opened the door and there was my brand new stereo system complete with a CD PLAYER! Can you believe that? Not a lame stock tape deck, but an actual stereo with a face plate. I repeatedly thanked my husband for the luxury and had to refrain from sticking my head out the window and yelling at passing cars, “HEY! My stereo has a repeat button and it really will play the same song over again!”

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  1. Butrfly4404 says:

    Haha…my car came with radio, cd player, and tape deck, but only the radio works (It’s possesed, though). I called the dealer about putting a new Pontiac one in (so it FIT, you know? plus i have those sweet steering wheel controls)…$800!! That’s $400 less than I paid for the whole freaking car!!

    I’ll stick with my radio. If things get really bad, I can always turn on my iPod and pretend it’s my phone, right? šŸ˜‰

    (I’m secretly jealous of your CD playing abilities, though.)

  2. Melissa says:


    You must have a Volkswagen. I have a little 99 red bug (back in Atlanta, sniff sniff- we all know what a hunk of sh*& I drive around here) and when you call the dealer for the code, they will try and charge you 80 bucks. It may have gone up by now. 80 freaking bucks for a code to a radio that they know that you OWN. Highway stinking robbery.

    Of course, since it sounds like you are like me, I didn’t write it down the first time, and had to get a friend of my mom’s who does work on radios to call the Volks dealer and lie to them to get the stupid code out of them. Grrr.

  3. that is awesome! I desperately need a new cd player (mine will randomly shoot the cd’s out a such a high rate of speed I’m afraid it will cut someones head off) but I’m too cheap to do it…

    you have a very awesome hubby!

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