There’s a lot of talk about what Americans will spend their stimulus money on—or if they’ll spend it at all. But I know what I’m buying.
Like many other Americans of a certain age, I am already swimming in toast.
While the $600 that is currently being doled out to us is mighty kind, I just don’t know what I’m going to do with all of this smooth, slightly spicy avocado spread and all this crunchy bread.
$600 buys the average American 88 slices of avocado toast. And that’s if we splurge and buy them all pre-made from a restaurant and stuff. Do restaurants still exist where you live?
Say we’re super savvy and make them at home. Avocados here cost about $1.25 a piece, and if I buy on sale, I can get two whole loaves of Wonder Bread for $3. We won’t count the cost of a toaster in this equation. Only the really poor Americans, you know, the ones who truly deserve nothing because they loaf around (get it?) on my tax dollars, don’t have one. Let’s assume, for this exercise, that all Americans have toasters (Fun fact: they do not).
Here comes the hard math. You know, the kind my kids are no longer learning because we’re doing school from home and they cannot hear the teacher over the screen, since the teacher is forced to teach them on the side, as they tend to all the children who are going to real school.
Let’s put half of an avocado on each slice, and say bread comes with 20 slices to a loaf. That’s one avocado to every 10 slices. A hundred avocados, therefore, covers 200 slices of toast. Each slice of bread would cost 7.5 cents. Seven point five cents, is this not living large? And a half avocado costs 62.5 cents. Am I too in the weeds? Let’s just go for the grand finale: If we make our toast at home, our stimulus check buys us 420 slices of avocado toast. Not counting, of course, the hours it would take to assemble all that. My time, as has been made very clear, isn’t worth much money at all.
My neighbors suggested I throw a toast party, but even the 10 of us that can gather outdoors, six feet apart, will have trouble gobbling up all this goodness through our masks. And what’s the freedom to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness worth if death isn’t a real possibility? Plus, it would give me a way to get rid of all this toast before it goes bad.
Maybe, though, there are some American Millennials and Gen X’ers who aren’t buying toast. Even those heathens should be grateful for this generous gift of our own tax dollars back to us. After all, think of all the money we are saving on gas, now that we don’t have jobs to drive to! Think of all the childcare savings, now that everyone is at home all the time, day and night, every moment. Plus, the memories. Can’t put a price on breaking up the third fight in the middle of a “school” day between your cabin-fevered, delirious children who just want some toast to eat for survival.
In some places, $600 is a month’s rent. I don’t know where those places are, but I could buy at least a week of living in my own house with this check. How about groceries that aren’t toast? My family of four costs me $300 a week in food, but that’s because I buy hoity toity stuff like Tide laundry detergent and apples. I could easily cut it down to $200 if I replaced fresh cuts of meat with Stouffer’s frozen.
We could eat out, excuse me, take out, from Buffalo Wild Wings or Applebees 12 whole times if we all drink water and don’t order an appetizer.
Maybe I could stock up on toilet paper, in advance of the next raid. That check buys me 714 rolls. According to some coupon lady on the internet, that means my family will be covered in TP for nearly five years. Better yet, why not bring back some of the other industries my ilk has destroyed. We could buy 158 boxes of cereal! We could buy nearly 100,000 single napkins each. Think of all the trees we could kill!
This money is definitely not too little too late. With six in 10 of us having suffered a financial setback due to the coronavirus, we could use a little toughening up. The fact that 40 percent of us are banking on this check to help us pays bills only proves it. Better planning and foresight on our part is what’s necessary. We need to find our own bootstraps. That $600 is just a taste of what could be ours, if we only infused ourselves with a little can-do attitude. I mean, who needs a job, rent money, covered medical expenses, food?
Heck, if we were all Gwyneth Paltrow, we could buy 400 limes. And Lord knows, in these times, we’d better be preparing for scurvy.
Darlena Cunha is an adjunct professor of journalism at the University of Florida and freelance writer whose work appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and more.