For those of y’all who’ve never met Craig Sr, there’s nothing more agonizing for him than parting with his cash. Whenever he opens his wallet, he sheds a single morose tear of despair, creeping mournfully down his cheek before falling poignantly off his trembling chin. It’s more heartbreaking to watch than those damn Sarah McLaughlin commercials. (SN; not trying to be tacky, but he makes decent money as a nuclear engineer and grew up middle class. There’s no reason for him to be like this.)
For example; He has to pre-med for dental cleanings, so he stops by the pharmacy en route to his appointment. He refuses to go back to CVS because they didn’t have a water fountain, therefor he had to pay “$1.29 for a dadgum CAN of soda! Not even a 20oz, but a CAN!!! CVS must think we’re Rockefellers! Ain’t there laws against this chicanery? I’m being fleeced!”
At this moment, he’s begging mom to “talk some sense into” the insurance company to switch coverage to a pharmacy that “has some dang scruples and integrity” i.e.; a water fountain.
I’m having gallstone issues and trouble keeping anything down, and when I asked dad to pick me up some Gatorade because I’m dehydrated, he said verbatim, with nary a hint of facetiousness, “Why do you have such expensive taste? I raised you better.”
He once caused a 40 minute long backup in a parking garage because he forgot to get his permit validated, and was being “extorted” for $2. I begged him to just take out of my allowance, to which he replied “No! This is a matter of principles!” and finally relented only because I was struck by the most fortunate bout of hypoglycemia.
The first sign we knew dad was critically ill was when he voluntarily treated us to lunch at a restaurant with neither napkin dispensers nor value menu, when it was nobody’s birthday or anniversary, and then tipped $40 on a $30 tab. We left the restaurant and headed to the hospital where he underwent surgery the very next day.
I. Shit. Y’all. Not. Dad willingly spent money, and our next step was taking him to the hospital and calling his pastor.
All of these and more is why I asked one of my BFFs if I die before Dad, wait a couple days, then log into my Facebook and write “Is Dad spending money up there? Because Satan keeps talking about a cold front headed our way”.
Back to the flashback.
On Christmas the year I turned 7, I recognized the candy in my stocking from Big Mama’s candy dish- you know, the one all grandmas have with worthers originals, peppermints, rock hard tootsie rolls in obscure flavors, and those fucking weird strawberry things that manifest out of nowhere?
Anywho, when I confronted dad about this, he said “Santa must’ve seen you eating them at Big Mama’s and knew you liked them.”
Mmm hmm. Even as a young child, I was a realist. I smelled bullshit.
I had the DFWM glare down by 5.
(I later found out my parents realized at around midnight on Christmas eve they’d forgotten about our stockings and Big Mama saved their hides! Lol)
Fast forward to the following Christmas. My brother and I awoke at 4am to find brand new bicycles in our living room! There was no way in hell our dad payed for them! My faith in Santa was restored!
It was then dad groggily strolled through in his tighty whities* with the long eroded elastic band penned to his hip with a clothespin, and donning his then 20 year old tee-shirt** (which he STILL has, btw) bearing the lovely sonnet of
“It used to be wine, woman, and song,
Now it’s beer, old lady and TV”
(Oh, how I wish I were exaggerating), I heard him yell to our mom “THOSE BRATS GOT BICYCLES!!!” to which mom replied, “You’re lying! They’ve been nothing but assholes all year!”.
It was then my faith in Santa was confirmed!
It didn’t strike me as odd at the time as to why dad was up so early, but I later found out it was because he’d stayed up all night assembling them, and had finished just as Jr and I woke up.
Dad, after eating and getting dressed, passed out on the living room floor Xmas Afternoon :’)
His frugality may occasionally border on extreme, but there’s nothing I would change. I was/am one of the few in my friend group who has an admirable father. He sat through every insufferable pageant I was in, paid for my wedding, took me in when my marriage ended in painfully predictable disaster, and encourages my feminism by taking care of me so I don’t have to depend on some dude 😉
He may be chagrined about my taste in “fancy high dollar” sports drinks, but he’s right; we in fact do have “perfectly potable water for free at home”:
And I’m perfectly capable of adding “a pinch of salt and food coloring”. It doesn’t make sense to buy “high end beverages” when I “ain’t earning Gatorade money.”
Dad’s wisdom has served me well, and saved me plenty of money over the years:
Replace loose sockets?! What, are you made of money? #DuctTape #RedneckRepairs #Redneckognize
Phone + tumbler = sound system
Headache? Aspirin’s for liberals and Europeans.
No insurance, no ace bandage; No problem! Use on ankle socks so they’ll slide off easier and you won’t have to waste more duct tape when you shower.
And that^ is the greatest gift of all 🙂
*It should be noted that dad has/had several packages of new draws, which he refuses to open until he encounters a “blowout”, at which point the blown-out pair are relegated to car waxing rags.
** This adds absolutely nothing to this story, but he also owned a 40 year old Anheuser/Busch SWAG tee-shirt depicting frogs lying on their backs whilst holding cans of bud, with the caption “comatoads”. It finally disintegrated in the dryer and went on to that flea market in the sky. It was a tragic day for all 😦