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Chasing The American Dream

April 18, 2006


searching for the perfect seashell...

In my college macro economics class, Sanford V. Berg taught us the concept of TINSTAAFL (pronounced like waffle, got it?). We’ve all heard about this concept. Class, repeat after me, “There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.” But did the great Sanford Berg steer me wrong? While on vacation, I thought about this concept of ‘Free.’ I guess it occurred to me because in one day, I observed three different kinds of Free.

Andy and I were at a Baltimore Orioles spring training baseball game. Baseball games are slow and easy-going. They give you plenty of time to think about things like toes (upcoming post) and Free. Anyway, upon entering the stadium, already $5 in the hole because parking isn’t free, we were handed Oriole schedule magnets. Free. There were piles of them. Free. Fast forward to the eighth inning, Andy and I got up to get an ice cream, and I left our magnets on my chair. A man was kind enough to tell me I had left them, but I told him we’d be right back. Upon our return, the magnets were gone. Now THAT’S low. Why would anyone steal free magnets? People! They’re free!! I looked around for guilty faces but couldn’t tell who the culprit was.

Then at the game’s conclusion, I watched in utter disbelief as an elderly lady walked down every row in my section, looking underneath chairs, and eventually finding what she was looking for. Half-eaten bags of peanuts. She picked up every one she found and put the bags in her plastic shopping bag. Free. Gross, but free. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, I guess.

Let me get back to parking for a second or two. Parking is rarely free. Is there any bigger rip-off going? You attend an event and you have to pay additionally to park. It can be upwards of $30 sometimes depending on the event. I mean, you leave your car in an open space. What are we paying for? Are we paying for those flag waiving idiots telling you to park in a space you’d rather not park in? Your car sits in a lot and you pay for THAT? Easy money. That annoys me. You can hardly go anywhere without paying for parking. I’d rather they charge me more to get in and give me free parking. Same difference I know, bit it just feels better to me.

I think far and away the best concept of Free and the absolute best bargain going is the beach. Now that’s what I call free. Think about all the wonderful free benefits. You can get a great healthy tan, you can swim, see unique sea life in the clear ocean, play volleyball, football, soccer, jog in scenic surroundings, build sand castles, collect free souvenirs, endless seashells, have a picnic, that feeling of warm sand squishing between your toes, and oh the people watching! All the pretty people struttin’ their thongs or Schwarzeneggar bodies, depending on what you’re into. And what about the people who have no business struttin’? Fat guys in Speedos? Yeesh. And how about the relaxing factor? Listening to the crashing waves, breathing in all that wonderful fresh air, the sounds of seagulls, good grief man, is there anything better? And of course there’s the romance factor. How great is it walking hand-in-hand, feet in the water, watching the sun rise or set? Need I say more? And it’s all free. Well, except for that damn parking meter thing. Don’t get me started on that again…


  • I used to go to a lot of Marlins baseball games and was amazed at the crap some people would pick up from underneath the seats after the game. Plastic cups, paper fans, ticket stubs. Weird.

    A friend of mine and I used to rollerblade to the beach a lot. To avoid the dreaded parking meters, we would park at the (Galleria) mall or a church and then rollerblade the whole way. Amazing what some people will do to save a buck, huh? :)

    And, no offense, but there is no such thing as a "healthy" tan.

    By Blogger catsteevens, at 11:29 PM, April 18, 2006  

  • i'm having a hard time getting past that photo and realizing how much i miss the shore.

    By Blogger Sass, at 12:29 AM, April 19, 2006  

  • Oh, Milton Friedman....

    Reader's Digest Version: I dropped out of my first college after realizing I was making more money temping and bartending and didn't need to pay $30,000/year to get a theatre degree that would lead me to the same jobs. So I was off from school for a little under a year figuring out a career in opera management. I decided since I was spending most of my time/money in Europe anyway to just move there, decided the best way to get a long-term visa/stay permit in Italy was to go back to school, and so I moved to Rome and enrolled at an international university and the past year has basically been real-life "L'auberge Espagnole" for me.

    And don't get me started on the stuffed chicken tortillas. Get thee to a CF!

    By Blogger olivia, at 7:51 AM, April 19, 2006  

  • Maybe I'm missing the point of your post, Plantman....yeah, yeah yeah, people steal free stuff, and everything costs something these days (it even costs 40 bucks a month just to try to get a date). But honestly, I haven't been able to see past that picture of your son. It resonates love. It quite simply is the perfect picture.

    By Blogger Eatapeach, at 9:38 AM, April 19, 2006  

  • I concur with the parking thing. Go to Disney or other theme parks in the Orlando area. It costs you $10 to park. You figure that from all the money they charge you for tickets at least they should let you park for free. Well I agree with your former professor , nothing is for free.

    Great Pic. You should submit it to one of those contests.

    Take care.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:59 AM, April 19, 2006  

  • Your son is darling! You must miss him, maybe you ought to just skip the parking lot and head straight for whereever he is!

    By Blogger Elizabeth, at 11:56 PM, April 21, 2006  

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