I am an old woman. Okay, so if 60 is the new 40 then I am not really old. I am learning, however, that life experiences definitely age us. This wealth of knowledge called memories has a blinding impact on my attitude, opinion, and acceptance. It also plays havoc with my understanding of life in general anymore.
There I am, standing in front of the meat counter at the grocery store. I am staring at a pot roast seriously no larger than my hand with a price tag of $18.39. My train of thought and my feet were instantly frozen in time and space. Just last year I could buy a bigger roast – enough to feed two people for two meals – for under $10.00. Suddenly I am back in my teen years at the dinner table with a roast that fed four people and provided enough leftovers for beef and noodles. I wish I knew what it cost back then and whether or not the price tag also had my parents frozen in their footsteps?
My eyes then wandered over to the beef stew meat. Now, this is the left-over crap cut from the good roasts. The small package, hardly enough for one decent-sized pot of soup, is $12.00 and some change; the larger one is over $19.00. Two tiny, cubed steaks were almost $9.00. I am not talking about filet mignon or ribeye steaks here. After years of watching market pricing rise and fall, I have never felt so squashed by an economy. Homemade vegetable beef soup is no longer a cheap alternative.
Bottom line is, I did not buy any meat that day, or any fresh fruit or vegetables. My weekly staples of cottage cheese, eggs, bread, cereal, canned soup, spaghetti, crackers, and smoothie ingredients rang up at a whopping $58.00. My usual weekly spend just a month or so ago was maybe $35.00 and may well have included a piece of meat or fish. I left the grocery in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” fog. My income has certainly not increased by over 60%.
Now, I very rarely eat out, but whenever I am toddling around town cars at the fast-food restaurants are often lined clear around the building and into the streets. I used to think, why would anyone sit in a drive-through line for junk food? There is zero nutritional value in that stuff and only God knows how many fillers and preservatives. But sticker shock at the grocery store may give value to the dollar menu. How sad is that?
A friend and I recently hit a local pub to share a small personal pizza and a few drinks. It was a couple of hours of serious fun and we both left without overindulging. Our bill was $71.00. Did you just choke on that like I did? I think I can safely say the pub at the Stratman Inn is officially open for business. Simple fun is not even affordable anymore.
The difference is that youngsters have no memory of anything otherwise. I honestly do not know if that is a blessing or a curse. Fond memories sometimes steal away the value of the present. So, I now consider a meal of good beef, salmon, or even chicken a rare delicacy. Lord knows I could live off the fat of the land for a while – I am not going to starve. But my sugarplum fantasies this coming holiday season will not be of figgy pudding and gingerbread. I will be dreaming of baby back ribs. Ah, but that is fodder for yet another rant.
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