I’ve reluctantly come to accept that I’m a cheapskate.
I tend to make do with what I’ve got until it’s long past time the item was replaced. When I finally do buy a new item, I’m willing to pay for the features I need, but I refuse to pay extra for non-essentials. Like colour. (Which probably explains why I was such a resounding failure as an interior designer, but that’s another story.)
Self-help programs point out that it’s necessary to first identify and accept that you have a problem before healing can begin. My cheapskate epiphany came when I realized I’ve owned nothing but white cars since 1989.
I’ve disliked white cars since I was old enough to pronounce the words “I like the red one better”.
In 1989, I bought a well-used 1975 Dodge Dart for $1100, which was all I could afford at the time. It had one of the old 225 slant-six engines you couldn’t kill with a howitzer, and I loved that car so much I forgave it for being white. (Plus it had sporty stripes on the sides, so it wasn’t completely white.)
When the Dart rusted away several years later, I bought a 1986 Taurus cheap at an auction because it was (again) all I could afford. It was a piece of shit. I spent more time repairing it than I did driving it. And it was white.
In 1998, I’d been divorced for a couple of years and I was back on my feet. I decided I deserved a new car. I’d never bought a vehicle off the lot before, and it was time, dammit. No more hand-me-downs. No more making do.
Off I went to the Saturn dealer to buy a new car. Any colour I wanted. Ha!
But they offered me a deal. They had a demo on sale. It was brand new except for the few hundred kilometres that had been put on by the dealership’s test drives. And they’d knock $6,000 off the price and give me an extra year’s warranty.
Yeah, you guessed it. I’m still driving it. It’s been a great car.
But it’s white.
Because I’m a cheapskate, my motorcycle helmet has a fiery red skull on the back, and there’s cabbage-rose-patterned furniture in my living room. Many would consider those patterns to be mutually exclusive. I mean, really, most people are either flaming-skull or cabbage-rose, right?
But the helmet had all these great features, and it was cheaper than the plain black one.
And really, the furniture wasn’t my fault. My mother chose the pattern. Back around 1973. That furniture has survived exposure to decades of children, cats, three different households in two provinces, and nearly 40 years of direct sun, all without fading or sagging or showing any visible signs of wear and tear. I’m pretty sure it would survive a nuclear holocaust.
It is, however, violently unfashionable. When I said “cabbage-rose”, you thought muted pinks, didn’t you? Wrong-o. The background is navy blue with poison-green leaves, and the cabbage roses are blue and orange. Big suckers, about 5” across. That furniture is so obnoxious, it even makes my fiery skull shudder.
I don’t want to spend the money right now, but some day, I’ll buy new furniture. Any colour I want. Ha!
…Is there an echo in here?
Please tell me there’s somebody else out there who makes do with not-so-perfect colours for the sake of frugality (which is a much nicer way to say ‘cheapness’).