I’m in hot water because we ran out of cat food, again. I didn’t forget to buy it. My wife is mad at me because I have this aversion to stocking up on consumables like cat food, dog food, applesauce, ketchup, and other condiments. And rather than admit to my neurosis I become defensive. Whenever she says, “Do we need more cat food?” I automatically say no– Just how much cat food do you really need? Suppose poor Felix, bless his heart, gets flattened by a truck; there we’d be with $500 worth of superfluous Puss-in-Boots on hand. Furthermore it would be emotionally devastating to dispose of it, even if I could find a buyer. Now if you only have a few cans it’s not a problem to toss them into the donation container at the store.
When I was a younger my stepfather would buy cases of dented cans from this shady surplus store. This stuff was left over from old train wrecks and truck hi-jackings and usually was about a decade old. For years we had cases of canned pepper steak, chicken chow mein, and tamales crammed in our basement. The rancid stuff didn’t have labels and I was scared to eat it. I developed nightmares about moldy cans of decaying food crawling up through the floorboards. Hence more of my negative associations with stocking up behavior.
Another rationalization is that I don’t want to tie up all my readily available cash in pet food and groceries. That stuff just isn’t all that liquid. What if a kid says, “Dad I need lunch money.” and all my cash is invested in a case of Fancy Feast, sitting in the pantry. What you do, throw him a surplus can and say, “Here kid, trade this for a lunch ticket ?”
Perhaps instead of the gold or silver standard our economy should switch to the cat food standard. I would feel much more secure but vending machines would need very large slots.
This habit partially stems from my single days when I was always broke and spent most of my spare time grocery shopping. I literally shopped on a daily basis. Each night on the way home I stopped at the store and bought tiny quantities of food, barely enough for one meal. Soft drinks were the only foodstuff I bought in any quantity.
I imitated the highly efficient Japanese “just-in-time” production method, in which manufacturing companies have component parts delivered directly to the assembly line on the plant floor at the precise time they are needed. Their cash earns interest longer and they save a lot of money in storage space. The analogy breaks down because I guess, unless you eat in weird places, you usually can’t buy food just as it enters your mouth.
Using the same logic, I’d seldom filled up my car’s gas tank. If I filled up the tank I usually didn’t have enough money left to go anywhere. People have finally convinced me that buying in bulk is cheaper and that small portions are much more expensive. Evidently what’s good for Toyota ain’t necessarily good for most of us. I’ve gotten better, but those traumatic years occasionally intrude and overpower me.
I’ve always admired how my friend Tony stocked extras three deep in his pantry. Over at his house, when you’d run out of mayonnase, magically there would be new jar migrating to the front row, just like a shark’s tooth. For generally being an idiot he managed his dry-goods really well.
From an article in the New Humor Magazine