Poor Kyle’s parents are out of town and the first thing I did when their tail lights were out of sight was break into their house (I had a key) and steal two forty-count boxes of name brand gallon-sized Ziploc™ bags.
I’m not sorry, either.
When I was a kid, my mom would buy Ziploc™ bags on sale with coupons, and then we would wash and reuse them over and over again. One Ziploc™ bag’s life could begin with storing leftover tuna casserole, then move on to shredded lettuce, grated cheese, or mashed potatoes, and finally, at the peak of its career, it would graduate to actually storing frozen food—chicken, maybe—in the freezer. We only ever threw them away after they’d 1) contained raw meat, or 2) whatever they’d been storing had gone rancid. Because that’s just gross.
Image from here.
During my rebellious teenage years, I grew to despise the sight of scratched and tattered Ziploc™ bags in the baggie/plastic wrap/aluminum foil drawer. They became a salient symbol of our middle-class-ness, and my roots as a product of a product of the Great Depression. Not that I was ashamed of my heritage—just annoyed by it. I wanted to move beyond the “penny saved is a penny earned” years, and instead longed to frivolously spend my pennies without the accompanying guilt to whom I was raised a slave. If I ever had use for a Ziploc™ bag, I would immediately bypass all the previously-used bags and reach straight for a pristine, never-been-unzipped one. As a further act against my parents’ thriftiness, whenever it was my turn to clean up from dinner, I would use brand new bags to store all the leftovers separately. What’s worse, I secretly delighted any time I could stealthily discard a Ziploc™ bag that still had three or four good uses in it.
This is my confession. Some teenagers get high or drunk or pregnant or all of the above—I threw away my parents’ Ziploc™ bags.
And I feel bad about it.
See, now I’m married. (Famous last words, right?) When I first got married, I moved into a house that Poor Kyle had already inhabited for over a year, and at some point he had acquired Ziploc™ bags of his very own, so I inherited those when I became Mrs. Poor Kyle-Camille (we hyphenate our last name). (Not really.) (But I want to.) (When we were engaged, I asked Poor Kyle if he would, and he flatly refused. I should’ve never married someone so stingy to compromise his own last name. More famous last words.) Anyway, for the first few months of our marriage, I glibly utilised Ziploc™ bags for every occasion. One slice of bread left? Switch it to a Ziploc™. A spoonful of rice leftover from dinner? That’ll fit in a Ziploc™. Three grapes that I can’t bear to finish off? Ziploc™! Ziploc™, Ziploc™, Ziploc™! I was a Ziploc™ fiend. And, because of the immaturity leftover from my teenage years and the fact I was practically still a teenager myself when I got married (21), I flippantly threw each bag away after just one use.
“Ha! Saving Ziploc™ bags…that’s for the birds. I have a whole box of them in my drawer—I can use them at will, whenever I want. The good times will last forever. I am invincible!”
Again…famous last words.
Of course, the good times do NOT last forever. Three months in to our marriage, I had run myself completely broke of Ziploc™ bags. There were none to be had in our house—not even ones with crumbs left in them from the pb&j I packed for Poor Kyle’s lunch two weeks ago. None. I had nothing. Humbled, I scribbled “Ziplocs™” on my grocery list, and planned to pick some up during my next Costco trip.
Imagine my surprise when I went to Costco later that week and found that a three-box package of Ziploc™ bags was some ridiculously exorbitant price, like, more than ten dollars. I DON’T SPEND MORE THAN TEN DOLLARS ON MUCH IN MY LIFE—NOT EVEN SHOES, IF I CAN HELP IT, AND CERTAINLY NOT EFFING ZIPLOC™ BAGS.
I immediately phoned my mother-in-law and whined, “Have you seen how much Ziploc™ bags cost? This is highway robbery!” She laughed at my plight and offered to give me a box from her stash, which I politely refused because it’s only polite, but then promptly accepted when she didn’t offer again, because I didn’t want to miss my chance at free Ziplocs™. That would’ve been a tragedy.
When she gifted me with that box of Ziploc™ bags, I could hear a heavenly chorus singing in the soundtrack of my life (I just know someday there’ll be a sitcom based on this blog, so it’s important that I add notes for the producer as to how I’d like the soundtrack to figure, and in this scene, Producer, could you please be sure to have a heavenly choir singing, to note the glorious reunion of me with my long-neglected Ziploc™ bags?).
Of course, I was a changed person—I had learned my lesson. I was ashamed of the way I’d been acting toward my Ziploc™ bags; I was raised better than that. All the time I was in high school and thought I knew everything about everything, as it turns out, was actually a farce. My parents were right all along. I made that one bag last three times longer than the first, reverting back to the ways of my mom, and even going a step further by actually scrubbing, with soapy water, persistent smudges out of the inside of the bags to make them presentable for their reincarnation. My parents were on to something, I can tell you that much.
Again with the famous last words. I’ll never hear the end of this.
At any rate, I’m really glad my mother-and father-in-law left town, because my begging was getting pretty pathetic, but I’d been out of bags (again) for several months and that’s just no way to live. Someday I hope to have my own paid-for stash of Ziploc bags, but I don’t deserve it now—I have years’ and years’ worth of dues to pay to the Ziploc™ gods for all the wrongful murders I committed in my youth. Someday…when I’m retired, maybe…or at least when I have obnoxious teenagers of my own to convince of the merits of reusing Ziploc™ bags one hundred times before discarding them…maybe then I will be able to buy my own Ziploc™ bags.
For now, I’ll beg, borrow, and steal them as often as I can, from whomever I can, and especially from people who are out of the country and can’t roll their eyes at me. (At least not to my face—I have no doubt that certain people are rolling their eyes uncontrollably at their computer screens right now. I have that effect on people.)