To further divert myself from the day-job work I had to do, over the holidays I spent long mornings with The Mom at the kitchen table, long after the other two had gone off out into the cold wintry world. And as luck would have it, one of those mornings was Coupon Morning. Which is the best morning of the week.
The local paper – or, as The Mom would say, what now passes for it – brings into our home on a weekly basis a mind-boggling amount of flyers. The Mom discards these immediately, whereupon I shriek, she rolls her eyes, and hands them over.
“I have no idea what you like about these flyers so much, “ The Mom said.
My eyes were wide open as I screeched my reply, “LOOK ASIAN PEARS!”
I don’t actually know why I love these stupid flyers either, but there is something that appeals to a deep, dark part of my soul. Each time I’m home to visit, The Mom very kindly humours me and we go to this massive grocery store called The SuperCentre. It’s epic. Massive. And full of pretty weird stuff if you know where to look.
When I was living with her, mired with depresson, Crohn’s, a broken wrist and zero in the way of hope, she tried desperately to think of things that might cheer me up, or at least give me a reason to get dressed. We tried the mall for a while, but it was exhausting and neither of us fancied shopping.
One morning, as I tried to find things to fill the day, after I had read the paper, I set upon the flyers. I literally had nothing better to do with myself. I flipped through and now and again pointed out things The Mom might have an interest in. Salmon, fresh and tinned, cantaloupes (this was back in the days of Poochie who really loved a good melon), and toilet paper (it was a bad Crohn’s flare). These items boasted that they were on offer. Not having any idea how much anything cost beyond expensive and more money than I had, I proffered these sales to The Mom who cocked an eyebrow.
“Nope,” she’d say whist appraising the price of a packet of hay fever tablets. “I can get them cheaper at Zehrs.” Then, squinting a bit closer she’d say, “Oh, this is the Shopper’s flyer. We don’t shop there anymore.”
“Oh!” I said, sensing intrigue. “Why not?”
I was hoping she had been affronted somehow which would give me the opportunity to embark upon a letter writing campaign of some sort.
“Too expensive. They mark their prices up by fifty cents to two dollars.”
She nodded sagely. I had much to learn.
And so, from then on, I searched through the coupons, trying to find a deal she had missed. Which was tricky as I had no idea what she might want to buy or how much she was willing to pay for it or even how much the thing ought to cost. I guessed, basically.
One day though, I hit upon the motherlode.
“Salmon!” I squeed. “Seriously on sale!”
The Mom looked at me with suspicion. And then she looked at the coupon.
“That is a good deal.”
It was like getting a gold star at school.
“I know, right? We should go get some for Poochie’s lunch.” I made to go upstairs and put my pants on.
“Hang on,” she said. “Bring me my glasses!”
I did as I was told.
“There’s a limit on how much you can buy. I hate it when they do that!”
“How much per person?”
“We’re two people.”
She looked at me as she digested this information.
She seemed skeptical so I continued. “We each buy eight tins. Separate check outs. They don’t need to know we’re together.”
“I see where you’re going with this.”
I’d like to say that The Mom then uttered the magical words, To the Batmobile! But she didn’t. We got in her car shortly thereafter and sped off.
As a reward for finding such a good deal, I was allowed to spend a while perusing the exotic fruit aisle, the weird frozen seafood freezer, and the International foods section, which is the best section in any grocery store.
Before we headed to the cash register, The Mom slipped me twenty bucks and whispered that we would meet back at the car. Off she went to buy her eight tins of salmon.
From that day, I read the flyers relentlessly, scouring their pages for deals. Along the way, I would find curious items, run into unusual advertising, and questionable products. Who, I wondered aloud, was buying these things? Which led me to an afternoon dreaming up characters developed entirely by their coupon habits.
To this day, I still love looking at the flyers. You should try it. You learn a lot about the world in which we live. Soemtimes it’s stuff you didn’t want to know, but it’s as educational as the news, and generally has less death and despair attached to it.