Money, money, money

When my brother and I were kids, my mom would occasionally take us to Toys-R-Us and tell us we each had, say, $15 to spend. Then she’d set us loose in the store to pick whatever we wanted, with instructions to meet her at the register with our stuff.

Ten minutes later, my brother would run up to her, his little arms full of toys.


He’d have $42 worth of stuff, and my mom would say, “You have to take some of that back. Pick which ones you really want.” He’d come back two or three times, repeating the process until he had just over $15 worth. Then he’d ask mom for specific calculations — what if he got these two things and this one? Or how about those three? Whatever combination of items fell just under the cost limit, he’d take.

I, on the other hand, would go into the store, choose one or two cheap things, and come back to the register.

Gnip Gnop

“That’s just $7 worth,” my mom would say. “Don’t you want anything else?”

“Nah,” I’d say. “This is enough.” Even as a child, I always felt more comfortable spending less — no matter whether the money was actually mine or not.

This trend has continued into my adulthood. I am not the kind of person who happily splurges on a nice outfit or fancy meal. I drive a ’93 Saturn I bought used. I seem incapable of purchasing shoes unless they’re on price-slashed discount. I’m incorrigibly frugal, though not quite as neurotic about it as before; I no longer freak out if I get a $35 parking ticket.

I also no longer feel quite so neurotic about having others spend money on me. In the past several years, I’ve had a few business clients who were both wealthy and generous – and as a result I’ve discovered that one can quickly get used to $200 bottles of wine, private jets and lavish dinners.

This is weird. How can it possibly feel normal to go to a fancy restaurant and eat a $70 steak? Even if someone else — someone with a lot of money — is paying?


Is this newfound comfort with money being spent on me just the beginning? Will the slippery slope soon lead to my buying tailored suits and Jimmy Choo shoes? Will I buy Chateau Lafitte to sip on summer afternoons? Am I destined to develop hoity-toity tastes, not unlike those of my better-dressed partner?

Or are these just the mad rantings of someone who’s anxiously trying to finish her blog entry in time to watch “Big Love” on video? Especially since the sushi we ordered has just been delivered? Sushi which cost more than your average takeout — but less than a $70 steak?

Time is money! Money is time! What does it all mean?! Etc.!! Etc.!!

[to be continued]

[or not]

Update (Tuesday a.m.): What the hell is going on with Big Love? Everyone seems insane, including Bill — what’s with [spoiler alert] breaking into Roman’s compound to threaten him late at night? And fistfights at the old homestead? Who came up with that batty troika of wives for Bill’s dad? And why does Nicki suddenly seem the only sane one? I’m starting to feel exhausted after every episode…

8 responses to “Money, money, money”

  1. Lane says:

    “exhausted after every episode…” Yeah! Just imagine . . . oh but I wasn’t going to comment on THAT.

    This instead

    “It is useful to model one’s life on one’s butler” – Marcel Duchamp

    “Artists are the elite of the sevant class” – Jasper Johns

    For better or worse these confessions of insane frugality might indicate that you are . . . an artist. And as John Weber once said to me (after I introduced myself to him as an artist) “Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.”

  2. Lisa Parrish says:

    Oh frabjous day! All my life I’ve been looking for this affirmation! Hack?… Or Artist? My frugal spending habits have tipped the scale!

    I must celebrate with a nice bottle of Cristal!


  3. Lane says:

    Yes that’s IT! Cristal in a tank top and jeans at 9 AM!

    The lowest low and the highest high.

  4. Bacon says:

    Private jets!!???

    “Artist” indeed.

  5. Missy says:

    I keep wondering if I’d like the show more if Bill Paxton were at all likeable. Or if dreamy-eyed Sarah and Heather would get it on.

  6. Matt C says:

    You think “Big Love” is out of control? Check this out on CNN:

    (My absolute favorite part is the solicitation charge.)

    Only 3 episodes left until the season finale!

  7. reddog says:

    Big Love. Any show that has a lead character attacked by “14 helpless wives” wins the prize for humor and understatement.

  8. PB says:

    “I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.” Sophie Tucker.
    Really, if given a true choice–wouldn’t most of us chose the steak? however guiltily?
    While we take a cold shower in disgust at our consumerism we think, “hmmm, it was indulgent but . . . yummy.”