On a whim — and with my wallet feeling kind of slim — I sent a snarky email this past June to a producer in New York who was looking for penny pinchers for her show on TLC called “Extreme Cheapskates.”
I guess my depiction of being a torqued-off, out-of-work 39-year-old writer did the trick — because the producer fired back with instructions for the next step: my video submission showing how cheap I really am.
“Some examples of ways to save are, ‘I never let anyone in my house turn on lights during the day,’ ‘I use sand from the beach instead of kitty litter,’ ‘I once used four different coupons on the same meal at a restaurant’ etc,” she wrote.
Was this badgering? Did she actually want me to bend the truth? Or — perish the thought — tell an outright lie? Sand on the beach instead of kitty litter? Do I LIVE in Cali-for-ni-ay?!?
That this was for a reality show on TLC should have been the first and only clue this would be an epic waste of time.
That my good friend, Skippy Jessop, had also been on several TLC reality shows — and was best known for being A. a 34-year-old Mormon virgin; and B. having a belly button lint collection showcased on this channel should have been my second clue to infinity that this TV venture would be out of my realm.
But I digress: I looked out into my back yard and saw the grass hadn’t been cut in months — even if I live in a desert — and I was on food stamps.
So in my mind — and heart — I was on the primrose path to being a cheapskate. Rather, WE were on the primrose path — to being cheapskates.
That’s right; lest you think I went at this alone I did not. In the submission video I was also asked to include my family, a loving, caring bunch that included me, my wife and our three children. I surmised they would love to have their lives broadcast — our dirty laundry, warts and all, aired around the world.
Why not, I thought. Why not, indeed.
So in my video I bragged about not cutting the grass (because my yard didn’t have any; it’s xeriscaped), not paying my car insurance for months and other bills, including my student loans — and not buying name brand canned goods while being an obstinate jerk-face for the sole purpose of making money.
In the end, TLC said thanks but no thanks to my 6 minute, 5 second epic opus made on my Android phone in about an hour, for I wasn’t thrifty enough for their liking.
I didn’t wash my clothes in the bathtub to save money — nor did I even show my bathtub or shower like most of these people.
If I did, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have had a home to come home to — let alone a place to be a cheap skate.
Besides, why are people even showcasing their bathtubs or showers on national TV?