Some free gifts become quite expensive over time

Gain may be temporary and uncertain; but ever while you live, expense is constant and certain.


– Benjamin Franklin


There’s no free lunch. At least not at my house.

Take my “free” chair.

A rather plain brown wingback, it was so unremarkable that my parents were glad to give it to me years ago.

My wife, however, noticed no one would ever sit in it, so she figured it needed a “little something.” It could achieve its potential in the living room corner, she reasoned, if it had a stool.

So we went shopping. This was pretty unsuccessful until we ended up in the Furniture-As-Expensive-As-A-Car Store. That’s where she found a stool she just loved.

Unfortunately, it didn’t match my chair.

It did, however, match a beautiful new chair, which soon was in our den.

It clearly outclassed the rest of the room. Balance was needed. Balance was purchased.

That’s because we went back to the Furniture-As-Expensive-As-A-Car Store and got a couch that tastefully matched.

It remains one of our most prized furnishings. It features a floral fabric and is – shall I say – “Southern Living elegant.”

Nowadays we sit around on our fancy furniture and pretend we are wealthy. An irritable husband might suggest we sit around more because we can’t afford to go anyplace, but I am not that guy.

No, I am the guy who just got back from the Gas-Grills-As-Expensive-As-SUVs Store. That’s where we picked a new grilling “system” that resembles a restored train locomotive – wheels, smokestacks, temperature gauges, lots of steel.

We bought this modern marvel after I had proved unsuccessful at fixing the old one – another gift – which I had assured my wife for week after steak-less week that I would do.

When it began to misperform as any grill more than a decade old might, I told her no problem. I could fix this at little expense.

That’s why I replaced the propane tank (twice). I got a new burner and a new drip guard and a new grill rack. And a new regulator, which I suspect is the real problem.

Then I spent a greasy, grimy afternoon scraping out charcoaled goo and disposing of it in a large paper bag.

I even replaced the ceramic briquettes with two big bags of new ones.

When I put it all back together, nothing happened.

No gas came through the regulator.

Nothing would light. Nothing would cook.

So I broke down and got the new one.

The old one – full of shiny new parts – is under consideration for petunia planter/bird feeder.

I sit in my old chair in the corner and try to decide.



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