One thing I've noticed about the Coronavirus is it's given people a reason to be cheap.

Cheaper than they normally are.

Cheaper than me, even.

Actually, I'm not cheap. I'm frugal. When it comes to paying, I'm the first to put my hand in my pocket… and keep it there.

I'm constantly invited to party parades. Well... not me, actually. People know if they want something good, my wife is the one to invite. These celebrations include baby showers, graduations, even dog adoptions.

I invited my father to come along once.

"What's that?" he asked.

"You don't know what a parade is, pop?" I teased.

"Not the kind you're talking about," he answered.

I explained to him, "That's where you drive to the person's house, drop off a gift without getting down, and then leave."

"No food?"

"No food."

"I'll pass."

Sometimes they'll hand out cupcakes. My father's not big on cupcakes. He's more a steak and potatoes kind of guy. Me, too, for that matter. Maybe there'll be a candy bag in it for you, but just one. So there's no food, no drinks, no socializing. If you ask me, a party parade is a cheap way to get a free handout.

At one of them, the mother of the little girl whose birthday they were celebrating wanted a headcount of who would be coming. My wife thought it was for them to be sure they had enough cupcakes and candy bags for everyone who was kind enough to take part, so my wife RSVPed with three: her, our daughter, and our granddaughter. When they drove by, the three of them were handed two cupcakes and a candy bag. I guess one of the cupcakes was meant to be split. Later, the mother Instagrammed pictures of the birthday girl opening her gifts and she thanked everyone who took part. "God will bless you," she wrote.

I told my wife, "'God will bless you' is a cheap person's way of passing the buck to the almighty."

This is especially true of my buddy Maloney's mother-in-law, who's so cheap she won't even give you the time of day. After she borrows a few bucks, she always assures him, "God will pay you back."

"She says that because SHE doesn't plan to," I tell him.

The very first party parade my granddaughter attended took place on the other side of town. My daughter dressed her in her prettiest party dress, gussied up her hair in curls and ribbons, and then drove with my wife a total of an hour and a half for the ten seconds it took to hand over a birthday present.

"Aren't we going to play?" my granddaughter wanted to know, not understanding why they weren't stopping.

I tagged along to one for the six-year-old granddaughter of some friends of ours. They wanted us to meet them in the parking lot of a steakhouse.

"Think they're feeding us?" I asked my wife.

"Maybe," my wife said.

She was being hopeful, and there's nothing wrong with hoping, but, as it turned out, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar and a starting point is just a starting point. We could smell the beef grilling in the air.

"Mmm… that smells good," our granddaughter said as we drove off like a happy funeral procession, following our friends who were leading the parade.

My wife and I just looked at each other.

Trying to sneak a peek at the festivities ahead of us, our granddaughter graciously said of the birthday girl, "I bet she's going to be dressed so pretty."

As we drove by the birthday house, I noticed our friends had parked, giving everybody room to drive by and away. I didn't tell my wife, because they're her friends more than they are mine, but I thought, "They're staying behind because, as soon as the rest of us suckers leave, they're going to go inside and eat."

And that's just what these parades seem like to me. The people who take time out of their busy day, spend money on a nice gift, and leave with disappointed children... WE don't get invited to take part in the actual celebration.

"You're just being grumpy," my wife told me when I finally aired my observation to her later, but, wouldn't you know it, the very next day her friends posted pictures on their Facebook accounts. Pictures of them having a very good time at a birthday party no one in the parade was invited to.

Just so you know, we're throwing a party parade for our granddaughter on her birthday. Consider yourselves invited. Knowing my wife, she'll find a way to make it special for our guests. Especially the wee ones.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the necessity for parades rather than parties. This pandemic has been tough on kids. They can't play with their friends. They can't go to school, or, when they can, they have to sit in their seats the entire time, even eating their lunches there. No P.E., no recess, no games of tag.

My granddaughter was visiting us the other day. She and I were outside playing when she saw some friends of hers from the neighborhood riding their bikes in front of our house. They invited her to join them.

"I can't!" she called back longingly. "I don't have a mask!"

Another little girl rode by. This one she didn't know.

"Hola!" my granddaughter called out in her best spanish, giving the girl a friendly wave.

"Hola," the girl said, but kept on going.

My heart broke a little.

Playing with your grandfather is a cheap substitute for playing with kids your own age.