For 30 long minutes, I sat within earshot of a woman who simultaneously catalogued her materialistic desires and her economic despondency to her hairdresser. Unable to escape, and admittedly engrossed by her fiscal highs and woes, I discreetly focused on my knitting and heard a tale I knew all too well. The seemingly insatiable holiday shopper to my right was the same kind of yuletide consumer that made appointments in my real-estate law office each January for another tradition: the annual pay off my holiday bills by refinancing consultation.
As the ability to charge-now, refinance-later vanished when most homeowners’ equity evaporated, I hoped the chronic consumer had also become extinct. But judging by what I overheard, any celebration of the persistent purchaser’s passing was premature. Though she said over and over again that “times were tough in the pocketbook this year”, my fellow salonista proclaimed that she had eliminated the “pain in the ass” problem of applying mascara daily. She solved this derriere distress by having fake lash extensions permanently affixed to her lids (though I gathered that “permanent” was a misnomer, as her false lashes stay attached for about 10 weeks).
When her curious colorist asked Ms. Tough Pocketbook the cost of the counterfeits, we both learned the price tag was about $500! Ms. TP then elaborated on the care and feeding of 10 week lashes: when she wakes up each morning, her falsies are tangled, requiring them to be combed through (a motion not unlike running a mascara wand through lashes, I mused).
Moving on, we heard that her teenage daughter was also a pain in her posterior, pestering her for an upgraded cell phone and MP3, not knowing Mom had already charged these gifts on her “almost maxxed out emergency VISA.”
TP wanted a “Pandora bracelet with lots of charms” as a holiday gift from “Jack”, a boyfriend or husband, though Jack was depressed lately because his commissions were “way, way down.” [Being mostly uninformed about jewelry, I later searched on-line and found such bracelets start at about $40, with charms upwards of $35 apiece. If TP desired even a basic model, and defined “lots” as maybe six charms, that’s still $250 plus tax to be shelled out by a dispirited man with dwindling earnings.]
Moving on, TP griped about making her “third trip to the dry cleaners this week” after she left the salon. But before she left to bear the chore of the dry cleaner, TP advised her stylist that she was going to pick up “some more” of the decorative and scented candles sold in the front of the salon as she “loved seeing and smelling them everywhere in the house.”
There was some chatter about jeans and boots that needed to be acquired for holiday parties, and one final declaration before she travelled beyond my prying ears: TP revealed that she was going to try a new restaurant for dinner that night because she “doesn’t cook on weekends–period.”
I couldn’t ask any pertinent questions of TP, so I acknowledge my snoopy snapshot can’t capture the contents of her wallet, the size of her bank accounts, or the scale of her pay stubs. But if “times were tough” as she asserted once every five minutes, I’m thinking that she could halt the financial assault on her pocketbook by re-wearing her 2008 party clothes, declaring an embargo on avoidable credit card charges, asking for a $25 scarf from down-on-his-luck Jack, picking up a bottle of Woolite, and ordering in a few cartons of Chinese take-out.