My First $100 Spent in the New Year
by Michelle Crouch
New Year’s Eve
$26.70 New Year’s Eve party supplies from Food Lion: Prosecco, Candy Cane Oreos on clearance, and a pack of Cumberland Gap brand sliced hog jowls. Total includes $10 cash back, some of which remains in my wallet, but which I can tell you now will go towards parking meters and emergency coffee.
New Year’s Day
$0! It is some sort of regional or familial superstition to avoid spending money on New Year’s Day. My great-grandfather would not part with one red cent, my mother claims. I usually give up and buy something, but this year I’m happy to report a perfectly Puritanical first day of 2014 spent mending clothes, cleaning, cooking a big mess of collards, and taking the dog on an extra-long walk. It was only maybe a little depressing.
$48.90 Cape Fear Seafood Company, dinner for two. A few years ago I found myself accidentally at an oyster bar in center city Philadelphia on New Year’s Day (the only place to drink that wasn’t already completely packed — Philly is an amazing shitshow on New Year’s Day, full of surly middle-aged men puking on their gold spray-painted sneakers). It seemed appropriate to celebrate the new year by eating a raw oyster — you know, to capture the vital force of a slimy half-dead mollusc. Since then I’ve tried to make it a personal tradition to eat an oyster on January 1, which is why I usually end up spending money, but I’m glad we waited because oysters Rockefeller were on special.
$20.94 Liquidation sale at the Blockbuster beside the seafood restaurant. We’ve reached a point in time where it’s not just going to a video store that’s nostalgic; a video store going out of business sale is already nostalgic. My husband shared an anecdote while we browsed of driving a friend to work at a place called Video Update in New Jersey in the ’90s only to discover it had closed overnight. They taped a pillowcase inside the return slot to collect the movies that unwitting customers dropped off, and then came back later to reap a harvest of VHS. Teen geniuses. Today’s haul: Jimmy Carter: Man from Plains; Rocky; Lust, Caution; Creepshow; Rachel Getting Married; Bright Star, Winnebago Man; Cleopatra (1934 Cecil B. DeMille version); The Secret of Kells; a collection of Young Indiana Jones episodes (my preteen romantic ideal); Burn After Reading; Somebody Up There Likes Me; Stories We Tell; The Look of Love; Hallelujah, I’m a Bum (IMDb summary: “A New York tramp (Al Jolson) falls in love with the mayor’s amnesiac girlfriend after rescuing her from a suicide attempt”); and one I can’t name because it’s a gift for a friend who might read this but let’s just say it involves late-period Nicholas Cage.
Total: $96.54, leaving $3.46 for roughly a gallon of gas in the car. Here’s hoping that New Year’s Day frugality counteracts the rest of my impulse food and media purchases in 2014.