I already know what I’m getting my Dad next year for Father’s Day: a new beach umbrella. It’s a long story, but basically I owe him one. Oh, okay, if you insist; I’ll tell you the story.
It all started a year ago on our last day at the beach. It’s not like my parents need to go through the trash, but for some reason they get a real thrill out of saving the “perfectly good stuff” other people are throwing away as they leave the beach. It’s true–some of that stuff is in great condition, and probably only being thrown out because it won’t fit in the overhead compartment on the return trip home. But for the most part we are talking about broken chairs, deflated rafts and ripped umbrellas. On this particular day my Dad scored big with a practically new umbrella that just needed a bottom pole. Luckily, because he frequently checks the beach trash, he had one handy at home.
For my parents, this is all a fun diversion. Being extremely thrifty was once a necessity and has now turned into a game. And they are Pros. Let me tell you! My sister and I fondly recall the days when my Dad would sneakily refill our Pantene shampoo bottles with a generic version he bought in bulk. He did the same thing with his bourbon. Unless we were having guests; then they got to drink the good stuff.
Now, flash forward to this year’s beach trip. With one hand griping last year’s umbrella, my Dad had not even stepped foot off the boardwalk and onto the sand before he was eyeing the broken beach chair someone had just tossed out. As we set up camp on the beach he explained in painful detail how he would fix the chair and save himself 40 bucks. Later my parents took off back to the condo, or the pool, or whatever and left us in charge of their beach umbrella. We, of course, got hungry and decided it would be okay to leave everything on the beach for a little while. We debated folding the umbrellas in so they wouldn’t blow away, but we were in lazy beach bum mode, so we just left.
Bottom line: when we got back to the beach much, much later, my umbrella was completely fine. Unfortunately, Dad’s thrifty trash can beach umbrella was…well…trash.
That’s why I owe my Dad a beach umbrella, worth about $40 or so. Of course, if I know my Dad, I won’t need to buy one at all–he’ll find one in the trash and put it back together, good as new.