In some ways, I am like one of the little Jewish grandmothers who cluster in the lobby of my apartment building between the hours of 10:30 am and 2:45 pm, chatting with each other while their walkers are parked a respectable 2 feet away. I squirrel away the green rubber bands that Whole Foods wraps around containers of cut melon, 1/2 dozen and dozen egg cartons and plastic boxes of carefully chosen salad bar options.
I have a brown lunch-sized paper bag under the kitchen sink that holds reusable cellophane produce bags. Garbage is gathered in used plastic CVS bags, legs of laddered stockings corral the lint from my dryer hose and twist-ties always live to see another day. I pick up every penny I pass on the street and I flip through the cast-off magazines in the recycling room for ones I haven’t read.
I can’t roast a chicken without turning the carcass into soup (celery leaves and Israeli couscous make a nice addition in the finished product) and I served the same bowl of roasted potatoes twice last week to two different groups of guests. I sometimes drink reheated day-old coffee and just tonight I finished off a three-year-old bottle of sweet chili hot sauce. It’s now soaking in water, so that I can reuse the container for salad dressing someday.
However, I’m not always insanely frugal. I spent nearly $50 on handmade soap last week (I did have a gift certificate, though) and if I had saved the money I’ve spend on pens in my lifetime, I’d be able to feed a small nation for a good month. I subscribe daily to two newspapers and I can’t stop buying books.
But, there are some moments, when I feel a little out of step with the rest of my generation. I think that maybe the best thing I could do would be to sidle up to the circle of bubbes in the lobby and nod my head with understanding when they say, “Kids today, they just don’t understand how to get the most out of a good brisket.”