It’s a Bargain!

Janet Coburn
4 min readNov 12, 2023

It was the gorilla mask that did it. Sure, it was after Halloween and, sure, I’m sure he got it for a very good price. But I ask myself, as my husband obviously didn’t, Why do we need a gorilla mask?

The easy answer is, we don’t. We don’t go to Halloween parties and don’t even dress up to hand out Halloween candy. Dan has breathing problems and can’t wear a full face mask for more than a minute. I have no desire to wear a gorilla mask at all (or to hand out candy either, a chore I leave to Dan every year).

The thing is, Dan works at a big box store and is in proximity to lots of things that are on sale. And he can almost never resist. (He also has a problem resisting free things, like stuff that neighbors set out at the end of their driveways. I’ve trained him to pass them by. But he expects praise for doing so. But I digress.)

There are pet supplies (in addition to the absolutely necessary gushy food for Toby). We have three cat trees, one of which sees use as a side table facing the TV. Toby only uses one level of the big one and ignores the third. He also ignores the catnip mice (though not the catnip treats). And who wouldn’t ignore the dog toy shaped like a giant t-bone steak that Dan thought Toby might use as a pillow? (Toby. Toby did. Dan did buy a nice cat bed that Toby uses a lot, so he gets points for that.)

Some of his finds are more like presents. When a sweater or tunic in my size goes on sale, he’ll snap it up and bring it home like it’s some kind of hunting trophy. (I don’t think he ties it to the hood of his car, though.) They don’t always fit, of course, and he says he’ll take them back if they don’t, but he never does. I need a separate section in my closet for them.

He’s also fond of clearance china. He brings home large soup mugs with appropriate sayings on them, like “Official Cat Mom” or “Looney Tunes” or less appropriate ones like “Merry Christmoose.” He also likes platters and sandwich plates that don’t always go well with our china pattern. Sometimes they’re at least in the ballpark, or completely neutral white. (Yes, surprisingly, we do actually have a pattern — Pfaltzgraff Yorktowne. I chose the paint for our newly rebuilt kitchen — blue — to harmonize with it. This is something I never thought I’d ever do (have a pattern), though I never thought I’d ever get married either. Life is surprising. But I digress again.)

The bargain food tables are also irresistible. Not that he always knows what he’s getting. We’ve ended up with spices like togarashi and galangal (which I always thought were martial arts), plus pickled banana leaves. Our cooking repertoire runs to things like grilled chicken breasts and ground beef, seasoned with Mrs. Dash, garlic, and oregano. He also buys bargains that really aren’t. Olive tapenade in EVOO isn’t cheap, even at half price. We still have lots of odd culinary experiments just a-waiting for us to be brave or tipsy enough to try.

I can’t really complain, though. Last night he brought me Graeter’s black raspberry and chocolate chip ice cream, which was on sale for some unknown reason. It’s good to have someone watching out for me. I don’t even have to share (much) with him, since it’s not sugar-free. (My theory is he’s trying to keep me fat so other men don’t hit on me. My last digression for this week. I swear.)

Lest you think this all goes one way, I buy weird stuff for Dan, too, though I’m pretty much limited to shopping on the internet. One of my recent finds was a Mr. Natural Keep on Truckin’ t-shirt. I’ve also gotten him a Funko Pop Jerry Garcia. (Can you tell what era he grew up in?) We hardly ever save these surprises for Christmas. Instead, we give ourselves a treat. This year, we’re getting matching tattoos — one gift that I hope isn’t a slight irregular!



Janet Coburn

Author of Bipolar Me and Bipolar Us, Janet Coburn is a writer, editor, and blogger at and