The Slimfast Crisis

Mom drinks a can of chocolate Slimfast every day for lunch.  She does this because she believes that it will help her lose weight.  The problem is she only burns calories walking back and forth to the bathroom and vigorously working out her thumbs using her hand-held electronic poker game.  She doesn’t seem to correlate the total lack of exercise to the steady and rapid spreading of her stomach, hips and butt; however, she’s convinced that Slimfast will shave the pounds eventually.  It hasn’t worked in almost three years, but I suppose that where there’s denial, there’s hope.  After all, she also believes that eating a family-size bag of dark chocolate M&Ms a week is good for her heart.

Anyway, the Slimfast crisis arose when Bill and I made the monthly trek to Sam’s Club to buy our usual supply of chocolate yumminess.  Imagine our horror when the shelf that usually held cases of Slimfast 11 ounce cans now contained something different.  It was the new Slimfast, designed in a not so subliminally-subtle, hourglass shaped 10 ounce plastic bottle that was sold in a 20-pack instead of a normal case lot of 24.  It seems the Slimfast marketing geniuses’ were now trying to force us to buy an ounce less in a new, sexy shaped bottle, hoping it would distract from the fact that there were four fewer containers per package.  And, to add insult to injury, they continued to charge the same price for less product!  Rather than succumb to this blatant marketing ploy, we paid for the rest of our stuff and left.

The next day we went to Costco, only to find that they had discontinued stocking Slimfast altogether.  Then we checked at Albertson’s, Safeway and Basha’s.  The drive home was grim.

“I’m not paying grocery store prices for that stuff,” Bill fumed.  “They charge eight or nine dollars for a six-pack.”

“Maybe we can go to Mom’s old Fry’s store and see if they still sell the store brand,” I said.

“I hate that store.  That’s where all the crazy old people shop.  And what if they don’t carry it anymore?” he asked.

“I don’t know, but we better warn Mom,” I answered grimly.  “She’s going to freak out.”

“Yeah, maybe she’ll have to drink something cheaper and with less calories – like water!” he retorted.

When we got home, I approached Mom, who was busily exercising her thumbs.  “Mom, we may be facing a Slimfast crisis,” I began.  “Seems the Slimfast people have changed the packaging from an 11 ounce can to a 10 ounce bottle, it’s only coming in 20-packs, not 24 and they haven’t lowered the price.

“Well that’s okay,” she responded, unphased by the financial impact this would be having on our checking account.  “One less ounce won’t hurt much.”

“Except Bill and I are paying the same price for less,” I said, as my jaw muscles tightened.

“Then maybe there’s something else I could drink?” she said smiling.

“Well, they make it in a power that you mix with water,” I suggested.

“No, I don’t think that would work.  It’s probably full of fillers that I’m sure aren’t too good for you.  I know you’ll find something,” she said, returning to her poker game.

On our next banana run we went to Mom’s old Fry’s store.  We’ve avoided going here for over a year because it’s a landmine of walkers, scooters, canes and cranky old people.  But, desperate times require desperate measures – followed by large quantities of adult beverages – and low and behold our sacrifice was rewarded.  They had the store brand in-stock and on the shelves.  It was now packaged in the smaller new Slimfast-type bottles, but it was sold in eight-packs and three of them came out to less than the 20-pack at Sam’s.  Life was good.

We rushed home, proud of ourselves that we’d figured out a way around corporate marketing mined-control and happy to bring Mom the good news that she wouldn’t be force to drink chocolate fillers.

“Found your Slimfast,” I gushed, hoisting up one of my grocery bags and wiggling it at Mom.

“Was it lost?” she asked, setting aside her Kindle.

“No, it was repackaged, remember?” I said, my self-satisfaction slowly deflating.  “Smaller size, more money?”

“Oh, well you should go to Fry’s and get their brand.  It’s just as good and costs less,” she responded, picking up her Kindle to resume reading.

“Okay,” I muttered crestfallen, lugging the bags into the kitchen just as Bill came in from the garage with the last of the groceries.

“Was Mom happy we found it?” he asked.  His bright smile and innocent expression warmed my heart.  It would be cruel to ruin his mood with the truth.  Right?

“She suggested we shop at her old Fry’s and pick up the store brand.”

“But that’s what we did,” he whispered as his face began turning an alarming shade of crimson.  “We looked all over and that’s where we had to go to get it.  And we almost got backed into in the damned parking lot and run over by that old fart on a scooter and I hate that freaking store.  And we couldn’t even use the self-checkout lanes because the damn store had them blocked off with a Depends display!  Doesn’t she understand,” he whispered through clenched teeth.  “Doesn’t she know what a pain in the ass it is to keep buying her Slimfast when it doesn’t help her lose weight and it costs more and we’re the ones buying all the damned groceries!”

“I’m sure she understands all of that honey, ” I said softly, stroking his arm to calm him down.  “She’s probably just doing it to torture us.  Let’s unpack, mix up an adult beverage, and pretend we’re on a beach in the Caribbean where the closest thing to a chocolate Slimfast is a Mudslide.”

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