Some financial chickens are coming home to roost — hello to a hen named High Gas Prices, and salutations to the rooster we call The Looming Heating Season — and so I’ve resolved to get serious about cutting our budget to the bone. Which is to say, I finally found an excuse to join Costco.
Who needs an excuse, you wonder? I do. My previous experience with warehouse clubs was with a gift membership to Sam’s Club, in Fort Wayne. I went twice, I think, mostly to gawk at the quantities and think, Somewhere in the world there’s someone who NEEDS to buy this many Tic Tacs. Frequently half the vehicles in the parking lot would be church buses and those extended-body vans preferred by families where children arrive with the timing and frequency of each year’s batch of Christmas cards. Plus, I’m sorry, but the whole place had that grim vibe of Wal-Mart. If Wal-Mart expended every fiber of its political muscle trying to impeach George Bush I’d still hate them. I think it’s the lighting.
Anyway, Costco. Somewhere in the back of my mind is this idea that it’s different, some meme that floated in when I was asleep. Thanks to Google, none of us has to remember anything anymore; ask it “how are sam’s club and costco different?” and it gives you this story. The outline: It’s pitched a little higher on the demographic scale, and it treats its workers better. What-evuh. I have a blanket opinion that I now drape over all for-profit enterprises, and it’s this: I don’t trust you.
But if they pay their employees better than Sam’s, good for them.
Truth to tell, it’s not that different. You still have to buy enough Tic Tacs to last 100 years. But the food’s better, the liquor and wine selection is sublime and there are enough oddities to make it worth stopping by at least every two weeks or so. We had people coming over for dinner Saturday, and I was pleased to find one of those organic ready-to-serve spring mix salads in the produce section — enough to feed us organic mesclun for a week, even after the dinner party, and at about the same price as the small bag in the regular grocery. And I took the opportunity to stock up on two things that, when they run out, can bring a household to its knees in moments — toilet paper and coffee filters. “Oh, the plague pack,” Alan quipped when he saw the special 36-roll package — large enough to fit into a crib, but not a bassinet — in the pantry. I distributed it throughout the house’s bathrooms, and don’t expect to have to think about t.p. again until Christmas.
As for coffee filters, well, we can stay up allll night on those.
And I took one another plunge: a whole beef tenderloin at the amazing price of $8 a pound. I carved it into two roasts and a mess of filets for the dinner party. Since I wasn’t sure about the quality of the meat, I employed the strategy dreamed up by the French to hide questionable meat for centuries: bearnaise sauce.
No wonder I woke up with my heart pounding at 4 a.m. Must….move…cholesterol!!!
The meat was fine, by the way. But the bearnaise? Made it better.
“Everything’s better with bearnaise” — that should be someone’s personal motto.
You really care about Monaco, don’t you? The future of the tiny principality by the sea, and so forth? Well, then you’ll want to read this kneepads-worthy profile of Prince Albert from Saturday’s NYT. Prince Albert was in the news a while back in what a gentleman like him might call a wee bit of a kerfuffle — an Air France stewardess produced a bouncing baby boy she says was Al’s.
According to the prince’s Wikipedia entry, he may have other out-of-wedlock children running around the world, too. In the NYT profile, Albert states quite boldly that the flight attendant set him up. I guess you can hardly expect a good Catholic boy like him to wear a condom, can you?
Prince Rainier didn’t marry blue-blooded royalty, but the Hollywood kind. It looks as though she repaid him by bearing him a passel of commoners.
Oh, and Carl Hiaasen on the decline and fall of FEMA. Registration required.