Even during The Apocalypse, I will buy crap on Craigslist.
To tell this story, I first need to establish:
Paul is FRUGAL.
Not in a normal way.
In an insane way.
A photo of our toothpaste; it’s clean, INSIDE, because he used to slice it open, to be sure he got it all.
I say used to because I’ve since begun making* our toothpaste; and it’s the VERY MOST PLEASED with me that Paul has ever been— basically he is RAPTUROUS that we no longer pay the HIGHWAY ROBBERY OF TOOTHPASTE.
*explanation halfway down this post.
I am not saying Paul is cheap, he’s not… if it’s worth it, it’s fine, and he will dismantle a wall in FEBRUARY in an unheated building, or DRIVE TO CLEVELAND to acquire a MONSTROUS bookcase.
But at HIS CORE, his absolute MOST TRUE SELF, is a man scandalized by the purchase of gum… gum has no value or merit and is only purchased by idiots<— information I am able to share, because of the time I bought gum.
My point is that with RARE exception, Paul’s instinct for anything that costs money: NO.
And on top of his normal baseline, the year I want to tell you about has two more factors: we had just bought a house, AND Paul got laid off… his response to this combination-of-intense-stress was: we are never buying ANYTHING ever again.
That weekend, was the annual townwide yard sale.
I have written about it here, and here… one year I got a four-stack barrister bookcase for THIRTY DOLLARS— my peak find. Everything else has been enjoyable, but essentially, just crap.
I DO love crap.
So, this year-of-stress, at one of the first yardsale stops, poking around… I lifted some yellowed newspaper in a ratty old box and— HERE IS MY GRANDMOTHER! Or, at least her dishes.
Until she died, my father’s mother lived in the house my grandfather built, in South Bend, Indiana, where they raised all of their children… When I was a kid, we would visit during summer and Christmas… my parents would pack the car and listen to me and Chris cage-match each other to near-death for the twelve-thousand-hours it takes to drive from Philadelphia to Indiana.
Sometime after midnight, we would wake up in the car, pulling into Grandma’s driveway, and Tina, Grandma’s poodle who hated everyone except Grandma, would come out and go berserk.
In the morning, we would wake up in the loft, and I can still SUMMON the smell— coffee and toast and the wood the loft was made out of… you’d wake up and go downstairs and the adults would be sitting at the table drinking coffee, breakfast dishes strewn around.
That’s what was in this yard sale box— the dishes.
Not many— just a few plates, a couple smaller things… only the dark blue color.
But still— GRANDMA’S DISHES!
After Grandma died, I asked my dad– what about the dishes? I described them to him, and he remembered… my father is also a hoarder, so he took it seriously. But nobody knew what happened to the dishes.
So this many-years-ago yardsale box of dishes… they wanted thirty dollars for it… which is maybe a lot for a couple of random dishes, unless they are the manifestation of the best part of your childhood, in which case maybe thirty dollars is fine.
Unless your husband is mentally tightening everyone’s belt and planning how we will rise at dawn to bathe in unheated water and eat nothing but gruel, for eternity, if not longer.
Paul’s response to my GLEE that I would pay thirty American dollars for a box of crap/my childhood… was… OUTRAGE.
To be very fair to Paul, his OUTRAGE would have been the same if the box was ONE dollar— it is the principle: WE ARE NOT BUYING ANYTHING / THAT BOX IS A THING.
Obviously I could have said— bug off, crazy person… BUT… Paul’s OUTRAGE can be persuasive. He brings an AGGRESSIVE CERTAINTY that steamrollers your own conviction.
I’ve actually written about his previous SUCESS in talking me out of things— specifically, the antique swinging chalkboards with the brass-frames and massive hinges; only an ACTUAL MORON would have passed them up, and Paul convinced me to WALK AWAY.
Is he that good at gaslighting?
Am I simply an idiot?
So we didn’t buy the dishes.
We left and went on to other yardsales… but an hour later, after listening to me reminisce about Indiana, basically non-stop… Paul was like— I was wrong, we should have bought those dishes.
For the record, his mood had been greatly improved because HE had flouted his own bylaws-of-no-spending to acquire an insane amount of clamps for like, five cents… He was so BEYOND pleased; strutting around, all— ALLOW ME TO SHOW YOU MY CLAMP ASSORTMENT… even though I can testify to you that he already has an entire garage full of nothing but clamps.
So we went back to get the dishes.
They were gone.
Paul felt HORRIBLE.
Like, so bad, that I had to comfort HIM.
I haven’t thought about those dishes in YEARS.
Until the other night, Paul said— I HAVE SOMETHING TO SHOW YOU.
It turns out that periodically, Paul has been LOOKING for these dishes.
They were literally not even an hour away.
I got SO EXCITED.
OMG!!! I cannot believe it!!
But then the next day, Paul asked, excitedly— when are we going to get the dishes?
And I was like— ehhh… errrr… I was actually thinking that maybe… I don’t need any more crap.
I could see in his face, that he was GENUINELY DISAPPOINTED; he said— I really need you to still want them because otherwise, I cannot fix that I was an ass.
I thought about this.
I was like, MAYBE I HAVE A SOLUTION— could I not get the dishes, but keep the CRAP-OPPORTUNITY… like, an I.O.U. for future crap? A crap-raincheck?
And Paul was like— if you WANT these dishes, they can come with an IOU for other crap, NO QUESTIONS ASKED.
I was like— so, just to be clear, you are bribing me, WITH CRAP, to GET CRAP?
He was like— improbably, it does seem that is what is happening.
So obviously my work here is done and the beings from my home planet can come and collect me… and also now Paul and I have a bunch of crap that neither of us actually wanted.
SEE ALL MY BEST CRAIGSLIST FINDS.
After I put this together, I thought— oh, it would be good to include some information about this WS George guy… so I googled it… skipped over the first few results trying to sell me plates… and the very first page I chose to open, I was like— oh… blergh… yup… righty-o. HERE are Grandma’s dishes, NOT THE ONES WE BOUGHT.
IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME SO I FORGOT.
But also, I took Paul’s certainty at face value.
SOMETHING I CLEARLY NEED TO STOP DOING.
I guess the cats are going to have some very fine dinnerware.
July 8, 2020 @ 1:04 pm
I have several pieces of “petal ware”, but in paler, pastel shades. Some are by Grindley of England, “peach petal” and “lupin petal” (blue), and also a green called “greendawn” by Johnson Bros. I’ve never seen these deeper colours before, although I often see the pale ones at flea markets here (Ontario, Canada).
July 8, 2020 @ 1:16 pm
So if you happen to come across some Homer Laughlin Riviera, let me know. Also Fiesta. Can I ask what you paid for that box of beautiful crap? I love ’em.
July 8, 2020 @ 1:28 pm
I love this story.
And at the picture of the toothpaste tube, I understood forever why you two are soulmates! OCD FTW!
July 8, 2020 @ 1:45 pm
Once again, thank you! Reading this made me laugh out loud, several times! Having loved design, antiques and “crap” we never needed over the last 55 years, I can relate!
With such awful and sad news every day, you provide more sunshine than you will ever know. THANK YOU! ❤️
Marianne in Mo.
July 8, 2020 @ 2:02 pm
My husband would ALMOST cut open the tube of toothpaste, he is that (ahem!) frugal – is that your word? How nice of you! What my husband would NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS DO (we’ve been together 47 yrs.) is search and then beg me to buy the dishes I coveted. Sorry they aren’t your grandmothers’ exact dishes, but they are pretty. Why not re-sell them, since they are technically crap now? You will eventually find Grandmas pattern, and can buy them! Paul is a keeper!
July 8, 2020 @ 2:08 pm
I totally understand. I, too, have gone beserk upon discovering a piece or two of my grandmother’s dishes at estate sales. Ha – they even SMELL like my grandmother’s bacon!!!!
July 8, 2020 @ 2:17 pm
Love this story…Paul’s a keeper. Also, love your blog.
July 8, 2020 @ 3:17 pm
Absolutely fabulous! 🙂 And I have to tell you that in this year-of-stress, I’ve been thinking of what I can keep busy with, and sort of toying with the idea of taking up drawing (which I very much enjoyed when I was a schoolgirl). And lo and behold, what shows up on the local Facebook sale group? An ART TABLE! Unused! Adjustable! Very reasonably priced! Since Fate had clearly put this in my path, I thought, “What would VEB do?” And I immediately messaged the seller: YES! I’m interested! YES! I will pay cash! YES! I can pick it up in my hatchback! YES! I can come right now!
It is now mine. The End. 🙂
July 8, 2020 @ 3:44 pm
One night I was feeling nostalgic for my childhood and missing my parents (both had died). I was on eBay and found the same strange, ugly little black tea mugs that we had when I was growing up. I bid $9.99 on them and regretted it almost instantly, but I couldn’t undo my bid. So I waited and waited and won the bid, because no one else wanted the ugly little black tea mugs either. No I have a full set, and I can’t tell you how unexpectedly HAPPY I feel every time I open the cabinet and see them. It was the best dumb decision I ever made.
July 8, 2020 @ 4:56 pm
Oh Victoria I adore you!
Thank you for helping me feel less alone!
The frugal husband species is a fickle beast! Only the masters can concur and win any struggle! Horah! Your the queen!
July 8, 2020 @ 5:03 pm
I love your posts and am on the edge of my seat to see what you do in your kitchen. I know it will be amazing!
July 8, 2020 @ 5:17 pm
BAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA I have missed you, and by proxy, Paul. Altho Paul not as much because I am clearly married to his No brother and erstwhile hater of crap.
July 8, 2020 @ 6:40 pm
Haha! Y’all are the best! That is a LOT of dishes. I can’t remember what my grandmothers had :/ Probably nothing.
Incidentally, I have the creamer and sugar to this set newly added to my Ebay.. can I share here?
July 8, 2020 @ 6:51 pm
So you didn’t want them and they’re not even Grandma’s dishes anyway. But you still have a crap IOU so you win!
July 8, 2020 @ 6:53 pm
You don’t know how much I missed you! This was fabulous! The only thing that could have made it better is kittens and tales of kittens. Okay the iou is priceless.
Teri in the UK
July 8, 2020 @ 7:13 pm
I cut the toothpaste tube just under it’s shoulders in to two nearly empty pieces … always lovely to read you xx
July 8, 2020 @ 10:06 pm
I’m really not that frugal but I always cut the end of any tube of anything, including toothpaste, to get every last drop.
July 8, 2020 @ 10:56 pm
Love, love, love! This hilarious post. and the dishes! And the cat.
July 9, 2020 @ 1:28 am
It is all in the mood. The wrong mood and you can be like, “ HEY, LOOK, THERE IS THE HOPE DIAMOND FOR 25 CENTS ! ” and a husband will be like, “WE DON’T NEED THE HOPE DIAMOND! ” Now, with the right mood, you can be like, “We really should get that 350 pound table in case we decide to go into the cork carving business.” and a husband will be like, “Yes, we cannot leave that behind! ”
July 9, 2020 @ 11:44 am
The dishes are beautiful. They will still bring back the memory of Grandma’s dishes plus you have this super sweet story with Paul. Thank you for sharing your story.