Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Infamous Green Stamp Incident

For me, Green Stamps evoke a plethora of warm memories from my childhood.  

That is NOT the case for my friend Debbie.

Every Thursday my Mom would come home from the A & P with about a dozen brown paper bags of groceries. After we put away the food, she'd let me put the Green Stamps in the books. I loved it!

Green stamps came in denominations of 1, 10, and 50. Each page took 50 stamps. You could put 50 1's on one page, 10 5's, or 1 50. Or you could paste any combination adding to 50 points. 

In fact, I believe my entry into nerditude began with adhering Green Stamps on those pages. For example, I learned at a very early age that:
  • 5 X 10=50 and
  • (30 X 1) + (2 X 10) = 50

It wasn't just grocery stores that gave out Green Stamps. You could get them at other retailers such as drug stores and gas stations. My friend Debbie probably got hers at a gas station. That would explain why she had the Green Stamps in her purse that day- the day of the "Infamous Green Stamp Incident" .

The Infamous Green Stamp Incident happened years before I met Debbie. She was living in St. Louis at the time. She and her husband were dirt poor, raising two kids under the age of 2 1/2 while going to college.  

It was August. In St. Louis. August in St. Louis is very hot and very humid.

Debbie was visiting her Gynecologist for her annual exam and was quite nervous at the time, for she suspected she was pregnant (again). She was sitting on the exam table, wearing one of those flimsy paper gowns, waiting anxiously for the doctor.

Did I mention that the air conditioning wasn't working at her doctor's office that day? Well, according to Debbie, the paper gown was completely sweat soaked within minutes, as was the paper covering the exam table.  And she was a bit embarrassed about the puddle she was leaving, so she decided to dry herself off 'down there' with some Kleenex from her purse.

Need I say more?  

Debbie had no idea that the Green Stamps had hitch-hiked along with the Kleenex and remained in place 'down there'. The doctor and nurse came in and Debbie scooted down into pap position. The doctor picked up the speculum, lifted the sheet, gasped,  and collapsed into hysterics.

Debbie didn't understand why, when the doctor asked the nurse to take a look at her crotch, the nurse joined in the laughter.  In fact, Debbie was starting to get a bit defensive.

"Hey, I don't think it's very polite for you to laugh at a patient's.... um...private parts!"

That made them both laugh harder.  With great effort the doctor was able to spit out (between laughs), "I'm sorry, we don't take Green Stamps"

I suppose that Debbie's attitude toward Green Stamps changed forever that hot summer day.  She told me she could never bring herself to lick a Green Stamp again.

I guess I can't blame her.

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