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Day 61 — Food Stamp Fandango

I couldn’t use my food stamps at the grocery store today. I was wearing my leather jacket, and Ted was at the checkout. In more prosperous days and when I was married, Ted once asked me if I knew of any girls he could date. He also checked me in at the polls on Election Day. He knows me or at least, I think, recognizes me.

My hair color and its length have changed enough since he asked me about girls to date that he might not remember me, but I didn’t want to take the chance. I’m self-conscious about using food stamps because it says I’m not successful, and I don’t want to leave that impression with any prospective mate that I’ve hit hard times, not that I’d date Ted. I don’t envision myself with a grocery store clerk. And I don’t mean to demean Ted. He’s a nice guy. I just don’t feel the chemistry.

Besides feeling embarrassed, I’m careful what I buy with food stamps. It’s not that I splurge on anything that would raise suspicions about why I was on food stamps. I don’t buy filet mignon or artisan bread. I buy things that poor people would buy.

I only get $176 a month to feed a family of three. Chicken nuggets and fried shrimp for the kids, iceberg lettuce (not the European kind), potatoes, milk, hamburger, a whole chicken, rice, bananas and the like keep my grocery bill in line with my monthly allotment.

The cats, unfortunately, are not covered by food stamps. So the extras—Purina Cat Chow and Fresh Step litter—are paid for out of my unemployment compensation, now called insurance, but I’m not sure what it insures against.

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