Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Yes Sir, Yes Sir, Three Bags Full

But the real question is here, how big is your bag? Or how big do you need it to be? Or what kind of wool is in the big, and do you really need it to be top of the line? In my personal life and the life I have as related to those people around me, I try not to “judge” too harshly. It doesn’t work as often as I would like it too. Now, I am not judging anyone on sexual preferences or predilections, or even their politics (most of the time)—I have discovered I often am a harsh economic judge, and what brought to my attention was an observed comment someone made about one of my own economic choices. It seared me; one, because it was made somewhat publicly, and I didn’t feel it was anyone’s business, and two, well, because! After some ranting with Partner (yes, we both raged a bit about this one), we realized that perhaps we do the same. Here's my three bags:

1. My mother: I have no complaints here, so don’t look for a rant about my mom. She’s totally generous and a gifted artist, and while in high school I went through a phase of calling her “my father’s wife,” I would say that now she is probably (outside of partner) my closest friend. My mom and dad just bought a house in South Carolina, which we all enjoy, and they make open to any of us kids whenever we want. They aren’t stingy or anything with it. It’s a five minute walk from the ocean. And as a northerner who has recently realized she should be living in a hot humid climate, this is great for me. But when we were down there this past summer, she had new curtains made for the master bedroom. I won’t tell you the price, but Partner and I were appalled, sure that it was possible to get curtains for less than what she was paying. But here's the thing: it's not my house, and it's not my money, and it's not my choice. Done.

2. Nameless acquaintance: When we were looking for a place to stay in Paris, this friend gave us some advice about where to stay. She loves Paris, and recommended, as her first choice, a hotel way beyond our means. “It’s very romantic,” she told us. I agree: I looked at the website, and it’s fantastic. But c’mon, I thought to myself, who does she think we are? Mrs. Big Stuffs? Ah, but said acquaintance is wife of successful filmmaker, and of course, it’s just different for them. (To be completely fair here, she did give us the names of places that were in our price range too, and I have to love her for not assuming we were poor as church mice. She probably did not “judge” economics as quickly as I do.)

3. Myself: Here’s what my beef was in relation too—our wedding reception. We dropped a buck or two planning this event. Certainly not as much as some, and certainly not as much as the commenter referred to above quoted, but we spent some money on this event. I have a thing about entertaining: I like people to have a good time. No, no; that's not right either, I love for people to have a good time. I want them to eat well and drink well. And since this was party of parties, I understood paying a bit more for this event than others we have. I wanted my friends and family to have a taste of the happiness I feel with Partner, and for the most part, I think they did. Weddings are, in my opinion, akin to funerals in that no one can ever tell you how much is too much and how much is too little. You spend what you think you need to spend at the time. Now, sure we could have gotten some landscaping done with our budget, or something else nice or necessary, but I don’t regret for a minute any decision I made about that day. Not one thing. I don’t begrudge anyone’s drink, dinner, or dance, and I promise myself I won’t ever go to another wedding and speculate on how much it must have cost them because I've done that too. I won't anymore. Tell the lovely couple congratulations, think how wonderful it is that they wanted to entertain you at such lavish levels, and say goodnight.

There it is, my three bags full. I’m going to try very hard in the next few months to let other people’s financial decision be their own, and I am not going to comment on any of it. I hope. We just don’t know enough about anyone’s motivations to derisively address their choice. The same people we are judging about spending that money, might in fact give even more to charity, or take care of their elderly aunt or mother, or any myraid of things we have no idea about. So if you want to spend $400 on dinner one night, go for it—your choice. I'll ask for all the delicious details of the menu and even salivate. If you want to buy $600 shoes, ultimately it’s your decision, and I promise I won’t say a thing except to tell you how lovely your feet look in their new rides. Practice starts now.


Blogger Suz said...

Oh goodness. It says something about my economic choices that I initially thought that this entry was about bags.....handbags. I was like, oh goody, she's going to talk about people carrying designer bags and knock-offs and wool bags and leather bags and summer bags and fall bags and....

How shallow am I?

Don't answer that.

Must not judge the economic decisions of other people. I like it.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Katie (WannaBeMom) said...

Oh my God. You are cracking me up! Although, come to think about it, I have opinions on handbags too... but I will not judge them by their price!!

2:23 PM  
Blogger Robin said...

I just bought Baby Pearl 10 pairs of "gently used" summer shorts on ebay.com for 8 bucks. Control yourself!

10:58 AM  

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