February 7, 2009
There may be an upside to this downturn. I''m going way out on a limb by making a prediction that we Americans might be in the process of making one of these paradigm shifts the pointed heads are always talking about. We may discover we are heading back to the basics when it comes to finding ways to socialize and entertain.
One Saturday afternoon years ago, I suggested to the wife at the time that we have some friends over for a little get-together later on in the evening.
I got the immediate, "No," followed quickly by, "The house is a wreck, you''re no help, and I don''t want to spend all afternoon cooking."
In defense of my suggestion, not to mention letting her know how much I felt her pain, I explained that I wasn''t talking about a "real" dinner party with the good china and cloth napkins.
All I wanted to do was throw some hot dogs on the grill, put out some potato chips and pre-fab onion dip ... invite some folks over who I knew liked us -- and we liked them -- to play guitar, sing some songs, swap lies and exaggerate life''s adventures from days gone by.
Did I mention they could bring whatever they wanted to drink?
Does that not sound like a pretty fun evening?
I predicted that everyone on the way out the door at evening''s end would repeat the obligatory, "This was so much fun. Thanks for having us. Let''s do this again," and mean every word of it. For the record, we weren''t doing that bad in the money-making department at the time.
Maybe this was one of those things I didn''t notice that led up to the train running off the track and me finding myself all alone in a somewhat-clean-yet-messy house with a limited supply of "company worthy" food on hand.
We fell prey to the society dictate that if it wasn''t gold-plated, it just wasn''t good enough.
On Saturday nights, Mama and Daddy used to put me and my sister in the backseat of our only car (sans seatbelts and infant seats) and take us with them over to friends'' homes where my sister and I would play with the other kids while my folks played cards or just sat and visited. My memories of those days are of everyone having a good time -- my parents, my sister and me.
Struggling to start and maintain my own small business during the past few years, combined with the added expense of having three in college at one time, means that when the fried chicken gets back around to me, more often than not, all that''s left are the neck and back.
Readjusting is an understatement to what I''ve had to do. I find myself scraping harder than ever before and pinching every penny I can. But with all of these so-called hardships, I find I don''t really miss the "good old" gold-plated days all that much.
I''ve discovered that, for an evening out, there are some pretty nice eateries serving up good food you ordinarily wouldn''t prepare at home at very reasonable prices. For lunch, a Wendy''s chili and Double Stack off the dollar menu is quite filling. Or if I want to splurge, some good home cooking over at Helen''s for six bucks always hits the spot.
Watching the ads, I have found bargain after bargain on somewhat trendy fashions that hold up wash after wash.
Don''t misunderstand me. I selfishly pray each day for "it," meaning the good economic times, to come back. Although, some of "it" -- all this materialism and self indulgence stuff that goes along with "it" -- can stay put, as far as I''m concerned.
We are social animals. We are still going to find ways to get together and have a laugh or two. I like the prospects of getting back to Saturday nights around the kitchen table.
Here''s a stock tip from someone who sold some of his Wal-Mart to buy Worldcom: If you have a little gambling money to invest, look at companies that make playing cards, dominoes, canasta trays, cribbage boards -- and, for sure -- kitchen tables and pre-fab onion dip.
Roger Truesdale owns and operates Bayou Management Inc. and is a semi-professional guitar player. His e-mail address is [email protected]
Roger owns Bayou Management, Inc. and is also a semi-pro guitar player.