Here’s Your Sign…

Economic indicators.  Signs of the times.  Don’t you just hate ‘em?

Things are getting rough, folks.  Lately, we’ve had to learn to  think in creative, penny-pinchin’ ways….

The other day, I really had to put my penny-pinchin’ talents to work.  I’d forgotten all about my husband’s birthday, and I had no gifts for Michael.  No cake.  No balloons or banners or candles.  No birthday card.  Not even a trinket from the Thrift Store.

I didn’t have a lot of money at the moment, either.   But I didn’t panic.  Crazy Vic is at her best when it comes to penny-pinchin’.

Soon, my hubby asked me if I wanted to go “treasure hunting…”  Happily, I jumped in the car with him and away we went—watching for signs.  Signs on posts.  Signs with arrows. 

At each Yard Sale, I’d hurry out of the car, determined to get to the treasures before my husband did.  There had to be something for his birthday.  An antique knife…?  Or some fancy camping gear?  Maybe I’d find one of those carved black bears that Michael likes….

(He has a fascination for big black bears.  It’s a man thing.  Whenever he’s camping in his tent and hungry bears start prowling the campsite, Mike leaps out and runs toward the bears—roaring his way across the campground in his underwear.  The bears always run for their lives—as do other campers—fleeing from the Fruit-of-the-Looney.)

No one messes with Mountain Mike.  Not big black bears.  Nobody.

But never mind the live bears.  Right now, I was looking for fake ones….

I went on scanning every Yard Sale with growing desperation.  Lots of baskets and gaskets.  Glassware and Tupperware.  Little figurines that nobody wants.  Run-of-the-mill stuff…That’s what Michael calls it.  But no camping gear.  No antique knives.  No bear stuff—

Ah, but wait!

I caught my breath.  Apparently, we’d just stumbled upon a bear-collector’s Yard Sale.  I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was bear stuff everywhere.

Feeling grateful, I gathered up an armful of bear trinkets.  It was more than luck.  It was the Lord’s mercy upon a silly gal who’d forgotten about her husband’s birthday.

There was a nice “Welcome” bear-sign for the front of the house…A little scratched, but I could paint it.  And brand new rolls of bear wallpaper-borders—still in their package with $19.49 price-tags.  What a bonanza!   $40 worth of merchandise.  It would only cost me a couple of bucks.

And then that I saw it…the prize of all prizes!  A gorgeous black bear sitting amongst the knick-knacks.   The bear surely had a $20 retail value…but here it was only 50 cents.

I started to smile.  I could envision it already.  I’d make a big sign that said: “Happy Bearthday, Mountain Mike!…With Love from Crazy Vic.”   It would be perfect.

Well…almost!

There was a small hole on the bear’s backside, but I could patch it, somehow.

I hid all the bear paraphernalia from Michael and went to pay the lady—-only to realize I didn’t have any money in my purse.  Not even pocket change.

Now what?

I sidled over to my husband.  “Honey…?”  I said.  “Do you have a few extra bucks?”

Michael was suspicious.  Immediately.  “What are you buying?” said the Master-of-all-Bargain-Hunters.  “Is it in good shape?  Are you getting a good price?  Let me see it, sweetie.”

I demurred and sidestepped for a while.  Then exasperation set in.  “Oh all right!” I said.  “If you must know!… I’m buying your birthday presents here.”

Michael didn’t look a bit surprised, but the other shoppers did.  Eyebrows went up all over the place.

I was undeterred.  “I’m no cheapskate!”  I assured the world at large.  “And I’m not going to haggle with the seller.  I intend to pay the full price!”

Michael sighed.  “I’d be able to get my gifts for half price, if I bought them myself,”  he said handing me the money.  He could only shake his head.  “Honey, you’re something else! You’re paying for my birthday presents with my money…?!”

“Oh Michael—you make me sound so very…..so very cheap!”  I turned away.

“Darling…” he said comfortingly. “Don’t despair.  You’re worth at least 10 cents…!”

“What….?”

“A little green sign is stuck to your backside,” my husband said, “The sticker says ’10 cents,’  but I bet I could get you for a better price if I tried!”

I looked at my backside.  Sure enough.  “10 cents,” said the little sign.  Cheap, indeed!   Can’t get much cheaper than that.

It’s a sign, folks…. One of them dreadful signs-of-the-times.

Don’t you just hate ’em….!

Vicki O'Neal

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