The package of macaroni and cheese I had opened for dinner looked the same size to me, but something seemed different; smaller somehow.
"There doesn't seem to be as much macaroni in this pan as I remember before," I said to my wife as I cooked about the only thing I can make without ruining it.
"Don't you know?" she said with that look in her eye she had when she said she'd marry me 29 years ago. "They are making products smaller or with less content, but putting them in virtually the same packaging as before. It's the newest trend."
I stood there and looked at the blue and white box. It appeared to be the same as the containers I had opened many times, over the many years before.
"You've got to be kidding," I cried. "Kraft is an upstanding, all American company. I've been eating this stuff since I was a kid. They would never cheat us like that."
"It's not cheating," she proclaimed giving me that don't be a Pollyanna look "They list the ounces right on the box so you know, if you bother to read it. Don't you see they give you nearly the same box with the same price and you think you are getting the same thing. But the amount is smaller."
I looked at her with my mouth apparently wide open as flies flew in and out of it.
"But there isn't enough to eat in the pan," I cried as I drained the water from noodles into the sink. "I will need to make another box..."
"Or you will need to learn to eat less," she said. "We hardly ever eat the whole box anyway."
She was right, except that I always loved left over macaroni and cheese. I like it better the second day because it is a little more dry. Now there would never be any left. Not even a small amount. I realized I would now lose my skills in the art of microwaving second day or even third day macaroni.
"You know it's not just this product they are doing this too, don't you?" she questioned. "The other day I looked at my favorite shampoo and the label says it has four ounces less than the old container used to. It has a new container now, but I measured it against an old one that was still on the shelf and it looks the same size to me. But there is less in it."
"It's a racket," I said. "No a conspiracy. Someone needs to tell Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck about this."
"I think they already know," said my wife. "It's been all over the news for months that companies are doing this. Smaller is the new economy size."
It was time for contemplation about this national vision of smaller and more efficient. I decided I needed to take action. I went to the grocery store and started looking around. I found a thousand examples of littler, a characteristic that everyone seemed to proclaim to be better.
"Remember in the old days when one of those big Hershey bars with almonds was like 50 cents and was twice as big as this," I said to the checker as I held up a bar she had just rung up for me. She turned around with a strange look on her face and then I realized she was all of 22. "Okay...you wouldn't remember that. But I do."
She just kept checking out the items I had put in the basket while not saying a word.
I did want to make my point, still however. I grasped at something she could relate too.
"Hey," I said. "Look at the shopping cart; the one I just pushed up here. They actually fit the smaller products we are now getting. Those carts are the size of the kids carts they used to have in stores when...when...well you were three."
She was chewing gum and popped it at me. She picked up an eight pack of canned soda. I pointed to the cans.
"Look at those," I said. "They're the size of a small V8-Juice can, the kind I drink at breakfast. Look at the price. Sure there's eight of them, but they cost over four bucks. I remember when you used to be able to buy eight 16 ounce returnable glass bottles on sale for 99 cents during the holdidays. The bottles were returnable and you could get some of your money back. And it was made with real surgar instead of that corn fructose stuff."
She still didn't talk, but she did give that silly old geezer standing in front of her smile as she worked.
"That's $64.51," she said. "Debit or credit?"
I paid the total and walked out of the store carrying by my two thirds of a hundred dollar bill purchase wrapped up in two smalls sacks, plastic, not paper.
The guy behind me in line walked out just after me and in the parking lot his vehicle was parked next to mine.
"I agree with you," the 50ish something man said. "You know what I hate, how they have made everything on cell phones so small. My fingers are too big to work all the buttons."
We both laughed. I took my two bags, put them in the back seat of my little SUV, and drove home (only a little ways).
After all that I have decided that this is what old age is about. I not only have more aches and pains, and move slower than I used to, but everything around me is getting smaller.