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GEORGE'S POND: What Price Peace?

author: George Smith / illustrator: Lee Rapp


WHAT PRICE PEACE? On a global level, that is a question best left to the professional pundits and cognoscenti. Far be it from me to presume to add my two cents worth to their scholarly musings. But peace comes in many forms and I consider myself eminently qualified to weigh in on one that strikes much closer to home – domestic peace. The harmonious relationship to which all married couples aspire.

Rare is the marriage that runs smoothly 24/7/365. Like most other couples, Joy and I occasionally butt heads, but, with a little give and take, we work things out and peace prevails.

And the price of that peace? Let’s talk about that.

First a little background.

For starters, I subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school of thought. I should add “if it ain’t broke, don’t replace it either.”

That’s why we still have the same bedroom suite we bought as newlyweds many years ago. Of course, it shows its age, but you can barely see the scar on that drawer I glued together after one unfortunate moving mishap.

There’s also the dining room set we bought way back when. Too bad, I insisted at the time, that we could only afford the four chairs that came with the package when an optional pair of matching extras was available for a pittance. That’s been a sore point from time to time as the family has grown and we’ve had to improvise to accommodate everyone. But I don’t always get my way. Recently, I said goodbye to my comfy, old Vilas colonial sofa and hello to a characterless albeit more current model. For years, I rejected the bleating of family members who declared that cherished chesterfield dated and butt-ugly. But Joy embraces the concept of gradualism as a powerful force for change and was relentless in nibbling around the edges of my resistance until she reached its very core and I caved in.

It’s not that I’m too cheap to spend money on necessary things. It’s just that my definition of necessary differs greatly from Joy’s. If the kitchen cupboard doors still open and close, why change? If no springs are coming through the mattress and penetrating my epidermis, that’s good enough for me.

Admittedly, I’m pretty stingy when it comes to big-ticket items, but I don’t sweat the small stuff. Joy is my polar opposite. She’s far more willing to spend on larger purchases, but is profoundly frugal with the little things. Air Miles, price matching and discount coupons are her forté. I can’t be bothered with that stuff, but am impressed with the not inconsiderable savings that can accumulate as a result of her thrift.

One manifestation of Joy’s reluctance to waste money can be seen in her habit of purchasing everyday foodstuffs in quantity when there’s a good sale. That’s just smart and we have plenty of storage for the non-perishables. Perishables are another matter. Our fridge is always surprisingly full for two people.

To complicate matters, now that we’ve moved to town, we’re down from two refrigerators to one. It’s barely adequate for just us, but when company comes, especially overnighters with our kids and their families, we have a problem. People have to be fed and, particularly when multiple meals are involved, Joy has to stock up. Special drinks for the little ones, special drinks for the adults, treats for the kiddies, appetizers for the entire assemblage and all the other perishable ingredients needed for nice meals that all will enjoy. Finding fridge space for everything is like trying to solve an edible Rubik’s cube.

Joy’s anxiety levels begin to escalate several days in advance. Frankly, I think she goes a bit overboard, but keep that opinion to myself (until now). Regardless, things can become tense when I don’t share her anguish.

In the end, I must admit that it’s a problem. But my way of dealing with problems (which often works quite well) is just to ignore them. Not so with Joy and the spectre of that second fridge, for which she had been campaigning ever since we moved here, wasn’t about to go away.

The past month has been particularly busy. Predictably, the food storage hassle peaked along with Joy’s angst and the pressure on me to stop being so bloody cheap. Even I can only hold out for so long and I finally agreed to go shopping.

So out we went looking for something suitable. Nothing fancy. No ice cube maker or other useless bells and whistles. And who cared about stainless? Before we’d even left the driveway, the tension that had become palpable eased dramatically.

Joy was happy that I’d finally come to my senses and I was happy that she was happy. Much sooner than I expected, we saw one that fit the bill. It was a fairly basic floor model with a bottom freezer sporting a tiny ding which was irrelevant since it was headed for the basement, would never see the light of day, and came with a $300 discount.

So, as I sit writing this, we’re waiting for the delivery guys. With company coming this weekend, the usual crisis has been averted. Once and forever peace will prevail.

And the price of that peace? Just $877.99. Bargain.

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carl wiens

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meghan sheffield

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Meghan is a Cobourg writer, web producer and social media manager....

norm wagenaar

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