Monday, August 15, 2011

Don't Dirty the Drop Cloth

In front of this store by my house, there's a bin with lovely rolls of oil cloth material sticking out. It basically looks like the plastic tablecloths my grandmother buys from the 99 cent store except the floral print is more retro. My mommy friend who has great taste pointed out that it would make a nice drop cloth to spread over the living room floor for when the kids do art projects -- you know, to protect the floor. This appealed to me because as it is, I just tell the kids, "Forget it! Put away the paints! That's too messy!"and basically squelch their creative instincts in favor of not ruining my ten year-old lime green sofa from the Bloomingdales warehouse. So a few days ago, I popped into the store and asked how much the oil cloth was.

"$9.99," she said.

"Hmmmn, " I mused, "that's more than I thought but maybe worth it to give the kids the gift of art."

"$9.99?" I repeated, "For like, a good-sized piece?"

"Per yard," she clarified.

I tried not to choke on my gall. It was difficult but I made a valiant attempt because sputtering out loud at the exorbitant price of drop cloths is the fastest way to become your 80 year-old Italian grandmother.

I'm no expert but I figured I'd need at least 3 yards or so to make a decent-sized drop cloth. That would put my drop cloth cost at an outrageous $30. I don't spend that much on real tablecloths. I don't spend that much on my kids' shoes. I - not exaggerating -- did not spend that much on my coffee table. I spent $19.99 on it, thanks very much Ikea, you rock. Why then, would I spend nearly double the amount on a plastic sheet to cover the piece of junk coffee table?

I realized that if I did, indeed, buy the pricey drop cloth, I'd feel compelled to protect it. So I'd have to get another drop cloth to protect the fancy drop cloth. I could just see myself yelling at the kids, " DAMNIT! I TOLD YOU NOT TO DROP PAINT ON THE DROP CLOTH! DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT COST?"

It seemed a recipe for disaster.

"So do you want it?" the saleslady asked me.

"No thanks," I said.

I've decided the most cost-effective thing I can do is just tell the kids to paint right on the coffee table and when it gets ruined, we'll buy a new one. And maybe when I go to Ikea to get my replacement coffee table, I'll buy an extra one of those giganto blue bags that cost like $.50. Slit that baby up the sides and you know what you've got, don't you?