DEAL OR NO DEAL

My name is Jennifer, and I have a problem. I’m not afraid to admit I’m a bargain shopper. As soon as I see clearance signs or 70% off signs, I make a beeline for the marked down goods. I very rarely pay full price for an item of clothing. I’m a clearance kind of girl, and I always will be.

So, why don’t I have a problem dropping $10 on a dumb plush toy at a county fair? Do I find a thrill in throwing cheap darts at poorly filled balloons? Spending $10 on seven darts instead of $5 on three darts just makes economical sense, right? And $10 guaranteed a plushy little prize.

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SEAMUS — THE SEA TURTLE

My happiness meter increased tremendously once I took Seamus (my impulsive name that seemed fitting), the green little sea turtle, from my nephew’s little hands. Soon enough, my elation quickly turned to “what the hell happened?” Why did I essentially spend $10 on a plush sea turtle?

Adding more insult to my economical state of mind was a merchandise booth a few feet away from the games. Nestled among the belt buckles, jewelry, T-shirts, and other items were a few plush animals priced for $5. I could’ve bought TWO plushy toys without throwing any darts!

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UNNAMED PENGUIN WITH MY INITIAL KEEPING AN EYE ON MY FRIENDS DVD COLLECTION.

Was $10 worth throwing a few darts with my nephew and keeping the sea turtle? Oh, my nephew is OK — he ended up playing another fair game and choosing an inflatable baseball bat. Am I savoring the experience of playing a carnival game with my nephew? Or leaving a lame memory for him?

I think the thought of “winning” something — or the low and sad chance of risk — makes the prize special. Comparable to sitting at a 1 cent slot machine in Las Vegas, hoping to hit the jackpot. Where’s the risk and the thrill when you hand over money to buy a stuffed animal? Maybe the thrill is knowing you saved money.

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