Half-Off

My local grocery store has started putting pink 50-percent-off stickers on products they need to sell. Because of this I have become a daily regular. My diet consists of only items with pink stickers on them.

The burden of deciding what will be had for any given meal has been lifted from me. I let the stickers guide me. The problem is I have to get there early in the morning or late in the night for these deals. Middle of the day? No chance.

For the first time in my life I am using my alarm clock to get out of bed instead of arguing with it. I am staying up late for deals and getting up early for them.

I am running myself ragged but I am eating better than I have ever before in my life.

The morning and night crews are starting to give me strange looks. I am really twice as crazy as they think since I am shopping when they are sleeping.

This passion has recently started, but I can pinpoint the exact day the seed was planted.

It was my 12th birthday.

It was the first time I had a big birthday bash–one where everybody you know gets invited, not just your one friend.

Things were going well. With inhibitions lost due to my mother’s excessive rum-ball stash I was even able to talk to a girl, then blow her mind by sneaking us a couple beers.

At cake time I was feeling good even after the terrible rendition of Happy Birthday in front of my new girlfriend.

While everybody shovelled sugar into their mouths, my dad decided he needed to speak to the crowd.

“Everybody enjoying the cake?” There was a positive grumble through the chewing.

“Can you believe it was 50 percent off? They were going to get rid of it, can you believe that?”

Until high school graduation I was known as Half-Off.

I moved out of town for university and left the Half-Off stigma behind. I grew with confidence over time to believe I was a person of full value. I would scoff at bargain bins during the day and drink the night away.

Then adulthood settled in–bills, rent, kitty litter, it was just a matter of time before I realized being a Half-Off was my destiny.

It’s not so bad. I feel more satisfied than any of those khaki-wearing folk who shop with blinders on to any deals and then take their overpriced groceries back to their oversized house in their oversized car.

I am the leopard of the cat family. I may not be the King of the Jungle in the grocery store but I am the shrewdest.

There are other Half-Offs as well. You can see it in their eyes. The way they scan the aisles in a fluid motion, the way they walk into the store with a sense of direction. Half-Offs may look like they don’t know what they are doing with the rings under their eyes and bed-head, but they know.

They know the order of priority when they walk in the store: Meat, bakery, produce, and then, of course, personal taste. We avoid eye contact with one another most of the time.

Our relationship is competitive but respectful.

On any given day we eat better and cheaper than the rest of you fuckers.

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About Brett Butler

if my dick were a gun is a collection of short stories by Brett Butler. He is also an award-winning filmmaker/screenwriter and co-creator of the Toronto based entertainment production company SubProd. View all posts by Brett Butler

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