Thursday, November 13, 2008

Turned into a cheerleader.

So I was out with one kid (only one!) and she was hungry, (we had been to the doctor) so we went through a drive-through to get her a munch.

(I didn't do a lot of eating out, or fast food before. So, even the casual use of the drive-through is an eye-opener. However, this also proves I was never poor, since I always had the stable place to live and to store food that needs cooked, and to cook it. Some people are buying off the dollar menu for a reason, and there is something missed by the judges huffing that they should spend their money wiser.)

This time, I did something I've never done before. I ordered myself a drink without food. Heck, I'm so cheap, my usual practice at the drive-through, was to take it home and consume it with drinks purchased in large containers at the grocery store.

Though I never managed to be as cool as my mom, who would get the hamburger instead of the cheeseburger, since she wasn't about to pay 10 cents per slice of cheese on our sandwiches. She put Kraft cheese on them at home.

So, while I was ordering my child a cheeseburger and drink, I decided to get myself a drink. I'd already had lunch, but I was a bit thirsty. I'm serious. I've never done that.

The strangest feeling then came over me-here I am, driving around in my minivan, mind you. I'm 40 something in age and nearly 40 in extra pounds, and I suddenly felt like...a high school cheerleader. Queen of the prom. Golden.

Do you remember those girls in high school, sometimes the most beautiful women you'll ever see in real life (what movie is that from?) Haven't thought about them in years. They were driving their cool cars, not running off to their homework or part-time jobs, and they drove by drinking soda from the fast food. Using straws and disposable cups. Sometimes they'd go get soda in the middle of the school day, during break! Drinking soda from the fast food was conspicuous consumption to me. I never had money to go buy by-the-cup soda when I was in high school. I suppose they were drinking diet.

I also had no idea, in my sheltered and happy teenage years, what kind of unseen difficulties some of those apparently blithe high school princesses may have had. Sometime in the 5 and 10 and 20 year reunions, you find out whose parents had drinking problems, or were sleeping around, or beating them up, or were simply unavailable. That brave skill of keeping problems backstage is not one I ever picked up.

But for me right now, with my soda and straw, twice as old, with the sun shining on the dashboard, I'm everything I thought they were, and I have everything I thought they had.

Funny what set that off.

Of course, I won't make it a habit. I'd rather eat organic, and I'm still freaked by the amount of pollution cars put out idling in the drive through.


Heidi Ashworth said...

I find your newly-rich epiphanies endlessly fascinating. The Spouse and I were never rich or even close but we were okay--we had no problem buying drinks at the drive-through (even though my ten person family of origin rarely ate out anywhere). It was becoming suddenly dirt poor that really brought home all the home truths. I agree, people judge the poor (and surely the rich) by using the same yardstick they use on themselves. It just doesn't apply. Being poor is hard work! It leaves almost no time, money, or resources to find a job or even, in some cases, a place to spend the night. Thank goodness we didn't have that problem but I will never again bat an eye at the choices the "poor" make. Theirs is a world tilted off of its axis and grinds along with completely different rules for a completely different reality. It's not a place I want to be ever again. It sounds like being rich is hard work, at times, too.

b. said...

I love this post...
We have sufficient for our needs money (definitely not $$ rich), but I don't ever buy drinks at the drive-thru either. I think the price is ridiculous. I do, however, spend a nearly equal amount of ridiculousness on my beverage of choice to drink at home & work.

Ummm...I lost my train of thought.
Yayyyy for feeling like a cheerleader for a moment or two!

Shelah said...

Unfortunately, my kids know exactly when Sonic has its happy hour. Somehow it feels sort of virtuous to pay only $.75 for a soda. That's not even much more than a can, and you get all of that wonderful sonic pebbly ice.

Messy Jess said...

You are so real. I love it.

Desert Princess said...

Wow. I wish I had stumbled across this blog before!!!

smart mama said...

perspectives change everything-- wow what a fountain drink can do...

Angie said...

you and I would have been good cheap buddies. I never buy drinks either, and I don't even spring for kraft singles at home. Go enjoy a refill!