The 24 Hour Rule


Back in our younger days, I think it would be fair to describe both my husband and myself as fairly impulsive people. Not impulsive in an especially dangerous kind of way, but more in the sense that when one of us got a bright idea, the other was all too apt to say, “Yes! Let’s do it!” Such impulses led us to move to new places numerous times without doing anything as basic as checking out the job market, home prices or whether or not there was a decent restaurant in our new hometown.

Our impulsivity has been something of a drag on our finances since neither of us has so much as a lick of sales resistance and eBay was apparently designed for people who buy now and think later. (Although I must admit that yielding to impulsiveness combined with the cutthroat competition that eBay naturally elicits has netted us some pretty spectacular purchases including a salt and pepper set in the shape of small televisions emblazoned with pictures of Marlo Thomas and Ted Bessell from “That Girl” fame). NOTE: Never enjoy a glass (or three) of wine while shopping on eBay. Trust me on this one. Never.

But back to my point: we used to be quite impulsive creatures. Having children helped us to curb our devil-may-care attitudes toward impulse shopping and picking up and moving whenever we tired of our current address. There’s something about being completely responsible for two other human beings that brings a heavy dose of reality into even the most flighty of souls. Unfortunately, the natural impulse control of children tends to peter out as said children grow into adults and leave home.

Mark and I realized that we were once again getting back on the slippery slope that might have us calling up U-Haul and booking a move to New Mexico the day we almost bought tickets to something called SurCon a while back. SurCon, for those not in the know, was a convention/mass fan club meeting for diehard Starsky and Hutch fans that not only included dinner with David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, but also—if you were willing to cough up major bucks—a ride in the show’s wicked tomato red Ford Torino with Starsky behind the wheel.

Well! This was exactly the kind of stuff that two television rerun addicts dream of! I had our Visa card out and the reservation form pulled up on my computer when, thankfully, sanity prevailed.

“If we do this,” I said, “we will also have to buy tickets to fly out to California and we’ll have to stay someplace out there too.”

“Let’s stay at the same hotel the convention is being held at,” my husband suggested.

Reluctantly, I pointed out that the SurCon convention was being held at one of those fancy-pants Bel Air hotels that had valet service and guests with tans that never faded and called each other Hollywoodish things like, “Babe” and “Sweetheart” even when they’re talking to total strangers. For two people who are more comfortable at the local Holiday Inn an who don’t even call each other “Sweetheart,” that might be a tad intimidating.

“So we’ll stay someplace more down to earth,” my husband said. “Who cares? We’re going to get to ride in Starsky’s Torino!”

I was closerthanthis to pressing the Submit Reservation button when sanity once again froze my forefinger in midair.

“If we go, we won’t be able to afford Christmas presents for at least two years,” I said.

“So? We’ll have our memories!”

But I wanted more than memories. I wanted a new robe and boots as well as a stocking stuffer or two for our offspring. “Let’s wait 24 hours and see if we still want to go then,” I suggested.

Looking at me like I was nuts, my husband agreed. However, the next day when the 24 hours were up, he looked at me like I just might be the smartest little lady this side of the Mississippi. “I would like a ride in that Grand Torino,” he commented, “but not that much.”

And that was how the 24 hour rule was born. We agreed that whenever we wanted something that involved a moving van or a credit card, we’d wait 24 hours and see if the impulse was as strong the next day. Usually it isn’t. But if it is, then we have to roll out the 48 hour rule to safely get past that one. If the impulse is still there after 48 hours, then it obviously was meant to be.




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