Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Adventures in Frugality, or How To Make a Living with a Vibrating Billy Club

Back in the early days of our marriage, when I was a lowly (and low-paid) grad student and the theater god had not yet been deified, we shall I put this?

Less than wealthy, maybe?

Fiscally challenged?

Rising stars among the "genteel poor" set?

Well, mostly we were flat broke, and stretching paychecks to the snapping point to make our mortgage and still manage to eat. (Can't believe someone actually gave us a mortgage. It's not like we qualified, but it was a private party deal. He was desperate to sell, seeing as how he had four kids, and his new wife had three. They had to get out of that tiny house.)

[Yes, I know I've previously claimed we were 12 when we got married. What can I say? We were precocious.]

We did various things to supplement TG's tech director pay and the pittance of a stipend I got for teaching composition to undergrads. (BTW, do kids still manage to get into to college without being able to write a complete sentence? Because...damn. I was appalled at what those kids didn't know. But I digress...)

My supplemental contributions to the family coffer were derived from relatively mundane pursuits, like tutoring on the side. One of my pupils was kind of interesting, though--a Kuwaiti prince who needed to improve his English so he could pass his college courses and stay in the country.

The prince was very nice and respectful (refused to call me by my first name only, always said "Mrs. Linda"), and stuttered to beat the band. It was frustrating for both of us, but boy, did it pay well. He also promised his father would give me a "n-n-n-ice b-b-b-b-onus" if he passed, but alas. He f-f-f-ailed.

Whereupon I inadvertently taught him a new word: F-f-f-uck!

TG's extra projects, whenever he could steal time from the theater, tended to be more fun. Like the time he built a vibrating billy club for the dancer from a male strip club called "La Bare" (I think these clubs are still in existence, but I *cough* couldn't really say for sure) whose schtick (you should pardon the expression) was being a policeman*.

This dancer would strut out in full uniform (though not for long!), extending his billy club and zapping the ladies seated closest to the stage. Apparently it gave his fans quite the tingly thrill, and he later told TG his tips went up considerably once he added the prop to his act. So, being of the entrepreneurial spirit, TG charged him more for the next one, after the first one was accidentally snapped in two by a woman who would Not. Let. Go.

Another time, TG and a buddy caught a ride out to Laredo on a puddle-jumper, flying low and following the highway the whole way. There they decorated a theater for a debutante ball, which was an ordinary enough job for them. The fun part was watching the debs get loaded into the backs of moving vans, because their dresses were too big to fit in passenger vehicles.

That was the trip where TG popped across the border into Mexico to pick up a bottle of my favorite liqueur: Amaretto di Saronno. Normally way too expensive for our budget, the di Saronno he found in a little Nuevo Laredo liquor store was too good a bargain to pass up -- $3 dollars for a huge bottle!

TG was so pleased to be able to present me with such a treat upon his return. The money he'd made was long-since earmarked for the next month's groceries, but at least we could celebrate his return with a sip of the good stuff.

Uh-huh. Right. The "good" stuff. It became apparent upon first taste that someone had replaced the real Amaretto with a cheap imitation, and had cleverly affixed a new seal across the cap. While amazingly similar in color, the liquid inside had the distinct flavor of something fresh from the still, with maybe a little sugar added.

Heck, it was so bad we almost couldn't drink it.

But we were poor, and had no other alcoholic libation on hand, so we persevered. By the way, did you know bootleg Amaretto is a mild hallucinogen? Neither did we, then.

Now, most sensible couples would have poured the rest of the bottle down the drain. We were poor, yadda-yadda, and the prospects of restocking our liquor cabinet in the foreseeable future were slim to none. Frugality demanded we save it for emergencies**.

*For the pruriently curious, he constructed it by carving the billy club, hollowing it out, and inserting a dildo. Oh, and he added a nice leather strap, so the dancer could swing it around. I'm sure TG was horribly embarrassed to purchase the dildo, but no way was I going to do it for him. I mean, heck, it wasn't even going to be for me--why should I?

**We threw it out when we had our first child. Thought better of having a substance like that in the house. We may have been young and mildly stupid, but we were not total idiots.


Cynthia Reese said...

That stuff sounds like you could have used it for paint thinner! Too funny ... being broke sure does wonders for creativity, doesn't it?

Anonymous said...

OMG--hilarious! Reminds me of the time I went home to Tennessee with one of my college friends and her grandpa had a still out in the back 40 of the property... *sigh* memories!

Linda G. said...

Cynthia -- it probably WOULD have stripped paint, if we'd thought to use it for that. And, yes, being broke does wonders for creativity. Especially in the area of finding cheap entertainment.

Mary -- was the still operational? Because that would've made the trip highly entertain--er, I mean educational. Historic value, the science involved...yes, definitely educational. ;)


We also have a bottle of mystery liquor in our cabinet that we brought back from Mexico about 10 years ago. Pretty sure it's rocket fuel by now.


Linda G. said...

Tawna -- yeah, I hate to malign Mexico, but it's probably not the best place to buy booze. At least not the border towns I've visited.

Anyway, save your rocket fuel. You might run out of paint thinner in the middle of a home improvement project & it could prove useful.

Kari Lynn Dell said...

So this is sort of off topic, but I have to share it with someone and I said to myself, "Who would appreciate this more than Tawna and Linda?" about 4 am this morning my child wandered into our room and woke me from a particularly vivid dream in which all of the Viagra and Levitra ads featured young, very buff, very naked men demonstrating the, um, effectiveness of their products. A nightmare this was not. Rotten kid.

Linda G. said...

Kari -- LMAO! My profound sympathies. Why do the little monst--er, munchkins--never interrupt the nightmares?