When my husband was a bachelor, he used to buy expensive, brand name items. Now that he’s married to me, he’s learned that generic is almost always just as good.
When we got married (five years ago) he had this nice bottle of Vaseline Intensive Care lotion. When I noticed it was nearly empty, I pried the top off, filled it up with generic lotion, and replaced the top. I had gotten one of those gallon-sized jugs of the worst lotion ever manufactured for about a quarter of what he’d paid for 32 ounces of the nicer stuff.
The next morning I tried to appear casual as he pumped out a squirt of the inferior lotion, but I was watching anxiously. He puffed out his cheek and starting rubbing it in, then caught a glimpse of me in the mirror, stopped in mid-rub, and said, “What?”, to which I replied, “What?”, and he said, “Why are looking at me like that?”, so I said, “Oh, I guess just because your skin looks so nice and smooth.” He raised his eyebrows as if he thought I got weirder by the minute, and then he resumed rubbing.
That was five years ago. Fast forward to today. I’m in the bathroom while he’s squirting out some lotion.
“Haven’t you had that bottle of Vaseline Intensive Care lotion for a long time now?” I ask, curiously.
“Um, I guess so.” He gives the bottle a token glance, but I can tell he’s not into this topic of conversation at all. I pause to give him a chance to think about it, but clearly he is not devoting any thought to the matter, so I continue.
“Well don’t you think it’s rather strange that it never runs out? I mean, you use a squirt every day.” Now I have his attention. He begins to do the math.
“Hmmm, a squirt a day for... how many months do you think I’ve had it?”
“How would you know that?”
“How would you know that?”
“Because you bought it before we were married. I never buy that brand.”
“Then how. . .?”
“Because I’ve been replacing it with generic lotion whenever it gets low.” There it is. It’s finally out in the open after all this time. I can longer keep it inside. He looks shocked, almost betrayed. Suddenly, I feel like we’re in the middle of a Folgers coffee commercial (“You mean this isn’t Folgers?!”). Then acceptance settles in as he muses, “Huh, I never noticed.”
I begin to think of more possible areas for replacements. For example, my husband has a serious cereal habit. He’s a chain-eater, sometimes eating six or seven bowls of cereal in one sitting, and he likes only the good stuff.
A few weeks after the dust settled from the lotion incident, I decided to buy a bag of fake Froot Loops and put them in a real Froot Loops box. So I bought one of those cheap bags of cereal that’s so cheap it doesn’t even come in a box. It was called Fruit Rounds or something like that. I dumped the Fruit Rounds into an empty Froot Loops box, sat back, and waited.
I didn’t have to wait long. Within the hour, he was on the prowl. He grabbed the box of counterfeit Loops and poured them into a bowl. Right away, he was suspicious. He glared at the Rounds, eyeballed them, sniffed them, then asked me, “What’s wrong with the Froot Loops?”
“What do you mean?” I asked, concerned.
“They didn’t make their usual tinkling noise when they hit the bowl. It was kind of a muffled tinkling. And they don’t look as bright as they normally do either. And they smell funny.” I was messing with a cereal connoisseur. Still, I gave away nothing. I just uttered a disinterested grunt.
“Maybe it’s just a bad box,” he rationalized, shrugging as he poured the milk and plunged in a spoon. At first crunch, the hoax was exposed. He declared with absolute certainty, “These are not Froot Loops.” You can fool him with lotion, but not when it comes to something as important as cereal.