It seems only fair, after pointing out Dad’s commitment to frugality, that own up to a few of my own thrifty and sometimes my own lofty habits. For example, I used to buy premium peanut butters. But then there was that big peanut butter recall and you couldn’t find the name brands anywhere. I rapidly realized that the kids didn’t notice the difference between Jif and the Kroger brand. I also realized that as Wilson ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich EVERY day, we were blowing through peanut butter at an alarming rate. I stopped buying it in normal sized jars and moved onto purchasing it in the largest “twin pack” the store carried. After dinner the other night, Mark found me putting Kroger brand peanut butter on some cheap chocolate bar I’d purchased. “Wow. That’s a blow to my ego.” “What are you talking about?” I wondered how my terrible dessert choice was affecting his ego. “The giant tub of generic peanut butter and a crappy chocolate bar? Can’t we afford some Reese’s peanut butter cups?” Nice way for him to turn around my desperate cravings for sweets and my cheapness to make it his problem.
I also regularly do the math when it comes to buying cereals and other household basics. It’s been hard for me, but I had to let go the per sheet cost of paper towels (two cents). Mark has a thing about kitchen germs. In the spirit of full disclosure, the guy has a right to be a bit paranoid. He has had food poisoning more than any person I know. So I’m willing to quit doing the math and running the mental “cha-ching” soundtrack every time he stubbornly refuses to use anything but paper towels. But I’m still tracking a ton of other stuff that matters to no one but me.
My family has its fair share of people with borderline compulsive behaviors- and in varying degrees. We all have those little “idiosyncrasies” that we’d rather just everyone around us accept. Dad has been known to hide Hershey’s chocolate bars, partially eaten, in various spots throughout the house. Wilson won’t leave the house until the couch cushions are back in place and he’s always putting the finishing touches on some Lego “boat” or Tinker Toy “food shooter”. I hate having houseguests if there’s still trash in my trash cans. The list goes on.
We also have a very serious family idiosyncrasy; some may call it a mantra regarding our adult beverages. You are not to mix “good” alcohol. Specifically, you don’t mix the Stoli. So you don’t put Bombay Sapphire in a gin and tonic and you don’t put Petron in a margarita. If you are going to make a screwdriver, you mix with a lesser vodka. For those that mix, but are still in the “know”, they will be served the Absolut. For those that mix and don’t know better; they get the Smirnoff. Belvedere is kept for friends that like vodka martinis but won’t really appreciate the Stoli if they are adding vermouth. It’s all very clear. Just know it’s practically sacrilegious to mix good liquor in the Kelleher household. Shorty after Mark and I got married, mom was complaining about some “crap vodka” my grandparents had served. Mom has a long list of complaints about Grandma and Grandpa Kelleher, but their unwavering commitment to serving her crap vodka is interpreted (by my mother) as a malicious attack.
Of course, I have made an amendment to the Kelleher mixing rule. If crap booze gives you a headache, you should be able to mix the good stuff. It was under this amendment that Mark was operating when my father discovered; and then scolded him; for mixing me a gin and tonic with the Bombay Sapphire. The whole family was called into a public conference about the new amendment. Mark who had been a bit disbelieving about the seriousness of the rule and a bit brave (or stupid) after a few glasses of wine himself, suggested that maybe Mom couldn’t really tell between the offending crap that was served and her beloved Stoli. This was a poor challenge. Now, not only would my mother prove him wrong, but she would make him drink bunch of vodka. He learned a few hard lessons about vodka smoothness and quality. He also learned about challenging Kelleher women.
She lined up four vodkas. Yes, despite my mother’s affinity for one particular vodka she keeps four vodkas in the house. I reference the mixing rule. She correctly, and easily, was able to identify them all. Now please understand that my parents really like my husband. As “married into the family” members go, they admit that he’s really a great guy. But there are some things you don’t want to mess with and Mark discovered this as he approached the row of vodkas. Horrifyingly enough, he couldn’t identify a single one. More disturbing than that fact was one he liked the least was the Stoli. Turns out my husband is going to be relegated to drinking the crap Smirnoff with my father (he’s a mixer) as that’s the one picked.