We’ve been watching Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, where Jerry Seinfeld invites famous comedians to get coffee and a meal with him, and he drives them in a different incredible car each time. They talk, laugh, joke, and tell stories. Usually they go to unique places, but once they went to IHOP. Jerry took a look at the menu and said, “This is why healthcare costs so much in this country. We say, ‘Eat whatever you want. We’ll fix it later.’ Would you eat this?” The British actor he was with shook his head and grinned. The camera panned over to some people’s legs, wearing sweatpants and Ugg boots. The comedians did eat waffles, pancakes, and crepes. It reminded me of my favorite foods: sweet breads.
So I began thinking: of all the many things I should not eat, only two do not have a suitable substitute: cheese and chocolate. I can eat spelt instead of wheat, rice bran syrup instead of sugar, rice milk instead of cow’s milk, I can bake without eggs. But I will not eat fake cheese or carob, I’ll eat the real thing. Not too much—it will be like having one glass of wine, not ten, except with cheese and chocolate. I will also have the occasional Andy’s Frozen Custard, because that’s the best dessert in the world. It works as a meal, too.
You know that food guy who says we should “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”? And we should not eat “edible foodlike substances”? He also says something like, “All things in moderation, even moderation.” Smart guy.
So there’s good food, and there’s shopping. People love both. But here’s what makes me mad about shopping: when stores like Kohl’s raise their prices by 30 percent so they can send out 30 percent off coupons and women will obediently flock to their store to get a “deal.” Kohl’s only gives those coupons to people with their credit card. I used to charge things so I could use the coupon and then pay it off at the register, but for some reason, once I didn’t pay it off. And I was on paperless billing. And the bill got lost in the flurry of e-mails that come in every day. So I accidentally didn’t pay the bill. They slapped me with a hefty late charge plus interest. I called and said, “Please take off the late charge,” which they did. But I still had to pay interest. I paid the bill over the phone, and then asked them to close the account. (I can’t think of a bigger waste of money than interest and late fees.) The guy rudely said, “Just for that you want to close it?” I said, “Yes.”
So, yesterday I got a $15 off $50 purchase coupon and you can pay with cash. They reeled me in: I’ve been wanting new sheets and towels, because we literally cannot tell the difference between our cleaning rags and our good towels. I got what I wanted, and the total came to: $47.50. I looked all over the store for a $3 item, and finally, after a long time of circling the store getting more annoyed by the minute, I picked up a $4 dark chocolate with sea salt candy bar. I couldn’t wait to eat that chocolate. But when I got to the register, the candy did not count as an eligible purchase to use the coupon, so I had to go back in. I found a cheap shirt for Roman, and finally left the store. When I got home and saw Roman in his tight little t-shirt, I instantly knew: I have to go back for a bigger size. Yes. They have reeled me in again.
Why can’t stores just tell me their price and I can take it or leave it? Why all the games? Because, as JcPenney proved, that doesn’t work. Most women like the game. Marketing psychology.
But do they really have to look at the receipt and say, “You saved $91!” I didn’t! I spent $41!