Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Breaking Things

If there’s anything I learned when growing up is to take care of my stuff.  All kids lose things and break things; I know that can’t be helped.  But I always felt really bad when I broke something… a toy, a glass, whatever. 

Most of the time, it was understood that if I broke something (of mine), that was it; I wasn't getting a new one.  I knew times were tight and my parents didn't have a pile of dough to keep buying me new toys or what-have-you, so I understood.  I especially appreciated this training as I got older and had to buy my own stuff.  I learned to take care of my shit, therefore eliminating the need to replace it.

I started young on learning how to stretch out what I have, to get the most out of it.  It started with drug store candy.  If I only had fifty cents, I wasn't going to blow it on a couple of candy bars that would be gone in no time.  (Yes, “a couple.”  It was the early 70s.  Stuff was cheap.  If I had a whole dollar to spend on candy, it was fortune to me.)  I’d buy things where you got a lot in the package, like Lemonheads or Sweet Tarts.  Candy with a lot of pieces lasted much longer than a candy bar.

When I had a bag of Halloween candy, I’d work on it until December.  My goal was to make my bounty last as long as possible, as opposed to diving in for a week or two of sugared gluttony.

This tendency also took hold as I got out on my own and had to buy and ration my own groceries.  You can’t pig down all the good stuff in the first few days after shopping, or else the cupboards would be bare for those last couple days before payday and I could shop again.  I rarely had to eat meals consisting of stale bread heels and a can of peas, or barbecue sauce sandwiches.

Granted, I could have replaced some of my clothing more often than I did.  Why else do you think I just threw out my ugly 80s-era parachute-pants sweatsuit two weeks ago?  To me, it was a perfectly serviceable piece of apparel, and not to be disposed of lightly.

But because of the way I am, I have been able to keep things for a very long time, most of which have not gone hopelessly out of style.  I still have the full china set I bought before moving into my first apartment, in 1984.  Other than the pieces the Ex sold off at a garage sale, I still have all of it, unbroken and until recently, unchipped.

My regular drinking glass for my daily Diet Coke was one I got in the late 80s.  My alternate glass, showing Roberto Clemente’s rookie baseball card, I got from a McDonalds in the early 90s.  They've been with me through many moves, and even 4 years with a kid in the house.
I especially like the Coke glass because I use that line as the fill-to indicator.

I believe the last thing I broke was my favorite wine glass, about 7 or 8 years ago.  I think I bumped it against the counter as I was taking it out of the dishwasher.  I can’t remember anything else I've broken, since I was a kid.

I take care of my things, and I get the most use out of what I have.

Pinky, however, does not see things the same way.  She thinks it’s perfectly normal for a grownup to break a few glasses every year.  Or the spinner-rods off of a couple sets of mini-blinds.  Or leave our plastic food containers at work, to get thrown out.  Or grab several napkins out of a stack to wipe her mouth.  Or leave a few chips in your 1984 China from banging them down together when she puts them away.

We've been going round and round about this for years now.  And every time I say “Now be careful with that,” I get a tirade about how I can’t expect her not to break something every now and then.  I tell her to concentrate, then, on breaking her own shit instead of mine.  (That doesn't go over very well, either.)

So this morning, we ended up doing this dance yet again when she suggested I throw the issue out to you.  As you know, I very rarely bring our interpersonal dirty laundry to this site, but since it’s her idea, I thought, “Why not seek outside input?

I’m not asking you to referee or take sides, but I do want to know… how often do you accidentally break things around the house?  I don’t mean the kids; I mean you or your spouse.  How do you feel when your mate (or significant other) breaks or mars something of yours?  And vice versa?  Is it a big deal?  Or is it OK because “everybody does it?”

What about your relationships to groceries or supplies?  Are you a stretcher-outer, or a user-upper?  Does your spouse view household commodities differently?  If so, how do you reconcile the competing tendencies?

18 comments:

  1. Respect each other's stuff, no matter what. Her trivia may be your treasure. And vice versa. RESPECT!

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    1. All my stuff is treasure. “Cheap” treasure, but treasure none the less.

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  2. I save things, hate to throw anything away. I still wear a skirt I got when I was student teaching in 1993 on occasion. Unfortunately, I am klutzy and devoid of grace, so I tend to break a dish or glass at least once a year, which bothers me a lot and is why I prefer to drink out of plastic. Hubby pretty much breaks nothing but gets to hear me drop things all the time.

    As for groceries, we both like to have backups of most things. Hubby tends to get on my case if we run out of something and I don't notice because it is my job (mind you keeping track of things was my job even when hubby did the shopping a few years ago). He threatens at least once a month to take over the shopping for this reason. But he never does. I guess we are just used to that annoying dance!

    I do, however, remember as a kid when my mom would buy Soft Batch cookies. My brothers and I would eat them within a day or three, and then we had nothing. We never learned. But those cookies were so good.

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    1. At least you feel bad about it. And I bought Pinky a set of tall plastic tumblers, for the same reason. They’re cheap, but indestructible.

      As I’ve written about before, I believe in The List. As things get low or run out, we put it on The List. Then as long as The List gets taken to the store, (and actually consulted) we’re OK. But my beef is with the thought that “since we have such a pile of “whatever,” it’s OK to over-use and tear through it, as opposed to trying to make it last.

      I think we may be born to our tendencies. I was definitely born a “stretcher.” My siblings, not so much. It used to piss me off… they’d both scarf up their candy (on Easter or Halloween) while I conserved my stash. Then they’d want some of mine, and whine to my parents, “Bluz won’t shaaaaaare…” Drove me crazy. “Won’t share” is a parent’s Achilles Heel… they can’t bear to hear it and won’t wait for explanations. As Bill Cosby once said, “Parents aren’t interesting in ‘justice,’ they’re interested in ‘quiet.’”

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  3. I wish I were more like you. I'm always breaking something. But I don't think it's a lack of respect. I think I'm just fraking clumsey!!

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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    1. You may be. But I don’t think Pinky would characterize herself as clumsy. Maybe she gets to keep breaking things, but has to admit that she’s clumsy.

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  4. My husband has a "break it, lose it, replace it" fund every year. We're due for new glass ware by at least 2014. Sometimes we just have to live and let live.

    And this is why we can't have nice things.

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    1. With that “Almost a Basketball Team” full of kids, I figure breakage is unavoidable.

      And I know I said it on your site, but let me say here, Congratulations on your newest little chillun, Audrey Rose. I’m sure she’ll be your little partner in bad-assery in no time. Now here I am, a “Bluncle” (blog uncle) 4 times over.

      (You guys, check out Cassie’s site [button on the right] for pics of her newest addition.)

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  5. Oh boy, this. I rarely break things, but it does happen every once in a while and I am devestated. I used to work for Pampered Chef (that's kitchen supplies for you uninitiated), and I gained quite a kitchen full of fine items, including cooking stones and dishes. Last year, one of the stones that I used all the time and that they don't sell anymore, slid out of the cupboard and hit the floor, breaking into many pieces. I was so upset. Technically, I'M the one who broke it, but really it was whoever put it in the cabinet all haphazardly to fall out. I was so sad.

    THEN, just a couple of weeks ago, the hubs broke a dish that they also don't sell anymore as he was taking it off the table. Just one of those bizarre things where he grabbed it and happened to hit it against a chair as his hand was going by it, and it just shattered. I was very upset, but not mad at him. It was an accident and he wasn't being careless. The toddler inside of me wanted to yell at him, but I held it in and was an adult about it. He was upset as well, because he really liked those dishes and "used them all the time." I was like, well . . . you probably shouldn't have broken it, then! Yeah, did I say I kept it in? Mostly . . .

    Anyway, it happens occasionally, not too often. We try not to get too upset, and move on with our lives. Still peeved about that stone, though . . .

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    1. That’s kind of my way of dealing with life’s irritations as well, whether it’s a broken glass or some numbnut rolling a stop sign. I let it out, usually with some colorful metaphors, and then let it go. Bottling it up doesn’t help… (like when Jack Donaghey bottles up a problem and crushes it in his mind-vise), I’d rather see it, process it and then move on. But then sometimes the “processing” leads to escalation of the disagreement, and next thing you know, a half hour of your life has been wasted.

      At least your hubs was sorry about it, and didn’t just act like it was inevitable and so commonplace, it didn’t warrant mentioning.

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  6. I'd say we break things with a fair amount of regularity, and it's usually before we've had our daily coffee. Wine glasses tend to get broken while washing, and as long as I don't end up with stitches, I accept it.
    I do try to stretch things out more then my better half, but it's been along time since he's ever wanted for cash, whereas the feeling of being broke is much fresher in my mind. Easy to get spoiled quickly

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    1. I’m trying not to allow myself to be “spoiled” like that either. I know I have enough money that I can replace things every so often. But I think if you accept frittering away your cash due to replacing broken stuff or tearing through your resources, before long you’re back in a money crunch.

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  7. You can't take it with you eventually you have to break it or you'll need a canyon to bury your ass in not the Grand Canyon but you have time to collect more stuff !!!!!

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  8. Conclusion, breaking 1-2 things a year is indeed normal.

    The plastic glasses I asked for...

    It took six years to chip five dishes and I replaced them.

    And I was very sorry for it.

    Napkins I do not consider sacred.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 1-2 things are normal if you’re a clutz.

      Buying some new dishes does nothing to “replace” the existing dishes, that were special to me.

      The napkins aren’t sacred. They’re just an example.

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  9. This sounds like a conversation that regularly happens in my house. I don't think I should necessarily have a "breaking allowance," but I swear I have some sort of electric field that just makes things shatter around me. Just the other day I was walking out of the kitchen when I heard a loud crash. When I closed the fridge door, it shook something on top of the fridge, which landed on a pyrex measuring cup that just happened to be placed in the right spot on the counter which then hit the floor and shattered everywhere. Mark came in the room and immediately started to chew me out about it, which infuriated me. I finally got the words in to explain the freak accident. I don't know why this always happens, but we try to just use the plastic Mardi Gras cups as much as possible.

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    1. That whole thing sounds like a Mousetrap game setup. You probably couldn't have set it up any better, on purpose.

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