Jack Sprat could eat no fat.
His wife could eat no lean.
And so between them both, you see,
They licked the platter clean.
Say hello to Mrs. Sprat.
I’m not referring to our eating habits, though I love me some fatty foods. But I don’t want to talk about that. My husband Bill and I are Mr. and Mrs. Sprat because of our polar opposite attitudes about using up the last of something. Anything.
I get a tiny tingle of anticipation when I see that I am getting to the end of a roll of toilet paper or a tube of toothpaste because I’m looking forward to the satisfaction of using up every, last bit.
This could be evidence that I’m my thrifty Dad’s daughter and don’t like anything to be wasted. It could also mean that I have some sort of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The fact remains that I get just a wee bit anxious if we don’t finish up with the NOW before breaking into the NEW.
Here’s how I roll.
- We’re running low on coffee creamer at the office so a co-worker bought 3 more bottles. She already opened a new one, despite the fact that there’s still a bit left in the old bottle. It isn’t even a full serving, yet I won’t be able to bring myself to touch the new bottle until the old one is empty. It’s 4 in the afternoon, I am all coffeed-out for the day, there’s ½ cup of sludge left in the bottom of the cold coffee pot and I am seriously considering nuking it, grounds and all, so I can use up the last smidge of creamer and lay the bottle to rest.
- I’m on the mailing list of almost every charity in the U.S. and they periodically send sheets of return address labels preprinted with various wrong spellings of our name. They want to guilt us into donating. I use them when I mail bills and such. Once I’m down to a couple of labels on a sheet, I want to use them up and throw out that sheet. I’m practically looking for things to mail. That gets me closer to finishing all the labels from that charity, which gets me closer to using up the mile-high stack of labels stuffed in my desk drawer, which will never go down because new ones arrive weekly. I’m the mailing label Sisyphus. (Interesting side note: I mentioned this habit to one of my sisters and found she does the exact same thing! Nature? Nurture? Not sure.)
- Wouldn’t any thinking person agree that Dorothy should have started her journey to see the Wizard closer to the edge of town since she was already standing over there? Never mind that it would have messed up the song and dance number. But I have always secretly understood the absolute rightness of her starting at the tiny, pointy tip that marked the very beginning of the yellow brick road.
It’s a bit weird.
OK, it’s more than a bit weird; it’s uber weird. The most interesting thing, though, is how my weirdness is being answered by my husband’s growing counter-weirdness.
I’ve noticed, just in the last year or so, that he doesn’t like to finish up the last of things.
I give you recently noted Exhibits A through E:
- 3 pickle jars in the fridge. 2 have a couple of lonely specimens floating in a sea of brine, while a 3rd brand, spanking new jar had already been opened.
- 2 liter bottles of soda, each with one swallow of flat backwash in the bottom. These bottles sat in our refrigerator for a month until I threw them out.
- 3 identical bags of rye bread, each with only 1 or 2 pieces in it.
- A sliver of soap in the shower with a fresh, new bar sitting on top of it.
- 2 jars of Jiff in the pantry. One with a scant tablespoon practically unreachable on the bottom, the second jar… you guessed it, with a fresh knife trail breaking through its smooth, creamy top.
I would like to point out that I don’t eat rye bread, don’t drink the soda brands in question, have my own jar of organic peanut butter, and rarely eat pickles. I do, however, use soap. I use it and use it until the sliver becomes a soap tissue, and then I laminate it on to a new bar.
Now that this pattern has penetrated my consciousness, I see evidence of it all around me. I’ve pointed it out to Bill a couple of times, and asked him why he doesn’t finish something off and toss it before opening another one. He says I’m crazy. He can’t or won’t admit that he does this.
Neither of us used to have these bizarre hang-ups – they’ve shown up as we’ve gotten older. One thing that has become crystal clear to me through the years is that whatever you are, you become more of as you age. Happy Hannahs get more smiley, Negative Nellies turn downright crotchety, and our cute little quirks turn into hard-and-fast rules of behavior that can annoy the hell out of everybody else.
I guess the good thing with me and Bill is that our weirdnesses cancel one another out. As long as both of us can continue to resist the temptation to bash the other in the head with the soap dish, we’ll continue to get along just fine.