Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I Don't Know Why I Was Thinking About This

I'm not always the most practical, logical person. And so, when it comes to the sorts of things that most people are just sort of born knowing, I often need a little help...a guide to the mundane, if you will. In other words, I have this tendency to take practical advice--good, practical advice--and adopt it. And when I say adopt, I mean...

When I was maybe 14 or 15 years old my mother started allowing me to buy my own clothes. When I asked her for advice on what is considered a 'good price' on something, and she rattled off a list of prices, ending with, "and never pay more than $40 for a skirt."

About 15 years later, I was starting a new job, and I needed some professional-looking clothes. After a long day shopping, I came home utterly discouraged. Talking to my mother on the phone that night, I said, "I saw a lot of really nice stuff, but it was so expensive! Like there was this one blue skirt that would have been PERFECT, but it was almost $70!"

"So? That's not so bad for a skirt. Why didn't you buy it?" she asked.

I was stunned. "Because YOU told me never to pay more than $40 for a skirt!" I protested.

My mother sounded genuinely confused. "I did? When did I say that?"

Um. Um. "1979?" I replied.

Is it any wonder that the only place I feel comfortable shopping these days is Goodwill?

I have a similar story regarding gasoline. Because I didn't start driving until I was 29 years old (loooong story that can be shortened to this: I'm crazy! You knew that!), I had to ask for advice on a lot of stuff that teenagers normally absorb just from hanging out with their friends. For instance: Does it make a difference which brand of gasoline I use? Absolutely, said my friend Ro, to whom I went with all questions auto-related. Chevron is the best gasoline, bar none. OK, I said, and proceeded to fill my tank with Chevron...and only Chevron.

That was all well and good for that time, because I was living in an apartment with a Chevron station on the corner, and working in a building with a Chevron station less than two blocks away.

A couple of years ago, Ro--who, in the intervening years had moved back to New York--was out visiting. We were in my car, and I was low on gas. I had passed at least three gas stations when Ro finally asked, "Where are you going?"

"To the Chevron station," I said. "It's a few miles away, but there aren't any in my neighborhood."

She looked at me like...well, like I was as insane as I clearly was.

"Hold on!" I protested. "YOU are the one who told me that Chevron was the best gasoline!"

"That's true," she admitted. "But that was at least a decade ago! And you're ALLOWED to use other types of gasoline! Especially if you're on fumes and the nearest station is five miles away!"

I can? I can go to the Shell station down the block? It was an actual epiphany. I was 40 years old, and it had never even OCCURRED to me that it was OK to go against Ro's original edict.

Nowadays, I still hit the Chevron station when I'm nearby, but sometimes I use Shell, and sometimes I use Mobil, and sometimes--you might want to be sitting for this--I fill up on Arco. I KNOW. I am a gasoline REBEL.

Hey. At least I can laugh at myself, right? Someone has to.


Valle said...

well you got me beat -- i had no idea that one gas was any different from the next til i read this!

but then again, i didn't get my license til i was 30 :-)

Leila said...

As long as you never use Exxon, all is well!

And just because... gas prices as my local Costco? 3.39 on Friday, 3.19 yesterday, and 2.99 today. I'm flabbergasted. I've seen them go up that fast, but never go down like that.

Green said...

I've always been partial to Hess. Their gas stations always seemed slightly cleaner than the others.

po said...

This made me laugh so much, especially your first sentence :D.

I think those of us with, um, issues, find it necessary and comforting to get in "ruts." Once we establish a routine, we coast on auto-pilot, even for decades. It's just better that way :D.

Oh, and I would never, ever pay more than $40 for a skirt, here in 2008. I try really hard never to pay more than $25 for ANY article of clothing, except maybe a coat (though I got my LL Bean down coat for $19.99).

Ambre said...

Actually, the best is Amoco, but we don't have that here very often ;)