Brett and I spent the day in San Francisco last year while we were getting passports in preparation for our trip to Mexico. No, you don't normally have to go all the way to San Francisco for a passport. Yes, we could have sent away for them. But there were some technical difficulties which led us to believe they wouldn't arrive on time and we didn't want to take that chance.
Aaaaanyway, it was a blustery day in San Fran and we didn't realize that we would be spending a great deal of time in the out-of-doors while waiting in line to get into the building for our appointment. Not only that, but after we'd parked the car, we didn't want to move it, so we spent most of the day wandering the streets in the cold, cold wind.
We ducked into a men's clothing shop to warm our toes for a bit and Brett discovered a leather jacket which fit him perfectly. To our surprise, it was on sale and after the discount it was a steal. We bought it with the rationalization that Brett had neglected to bring his coat and it was far too cold for him to be without one that day. Also, he'd always wanted a leather jacket.
I wasn't really too cold, especially now that I had a big hunk of leather-wrapped man to nuzzle my face into. But Brett felt I needed something more substantial than my windbreaker, so we kept an eye out for an inexpensive jacket or sweater for me.
I'm not sure what area of the city we were in, but there were a million stores to shop in. Some were very reasonably priced, like where we bought Brett's jacket. Some were very, very high-end. At one point, we went into an upscale necktie shop. There were maybe 30 ties on display, which is not very many considering that's all the merchandise they had. After extolling the virtues of Italian silk neckties and ascots, the salesman asked Brett to select his favorite.
"Oooohhhh," he cooed with delight at Brett's choice. "An excellent decision. You can wear with many different earth-tones and will look also very sophisticated with black. Shall I wrap it up for you?"
"No, no," we laughed. "We're just poking around the city, trying to get out of the wind. Brett has lots and lots of ties."
"But, everyone must have at least one Italian silk necktie!" he cried in a passionate Italian way. "It last forever and your selection never go out of style! I give you a special price because I like you. You are nice young couple. I do you a favor. Today only $395.00."
I snorted. Brett politely considered the offer for about 3 seconds and then we hightailed it out of there. Like I said, Brett has lots of ties and we'd rather KEEP OUR HOUSE than pay hundreds of dollars for a fashion accessory (even if the salesperson did keep calling it an "accoutrement").
We moseyed down the street a little further when Brett stopped short. He gasped. "Okay, that's the sweater I want you to get. That's the most awesome sweater I've ever seen. I don't care how much it is. It's too cold for you not to buy that sweater and wow, I've just never seen anything so beautiful."
The sweater was gorgeous. It was a rich peacock-blue hue with a subtle green and purple design woven in at the edges and cuffs. It looked soft and warm and oh-so-inviting.
"Go in and try it on," he urged. I protested, telling him that I was sure it would be very expensive and that a shop like that wouldn't carry my size anyway. "It won't hurt just to try it on," he insisted, "You might be surprised. I'm going into the shop next door. Buy it if you like it, even if it is a little expensive." He shoved me toward the door and took off.
An small tinkling bell announced my arrival in the shop and summoned the most elegant woman I have ever seen. From tip to toe, she was flawless. Her hair was immaculately styled, her makeup enhanced her exotic features, and her four-inch heels sunk deep into the plush carpet on the shop floor.
"Good afternoon," she smiled warmly. "Is there something I can show you?" Her voice carried just a hint of a Slavic accent.
The thick silence of the shop was deafening after the cacophony of the noisy street corner outside. I was suddenly conscious of my wind-whipped hair, watery eyes, and touristy capri pants. She didn't seem to notice. I had her full attention and she never once gave me a look of disapproval.
"I....uh... My husband really liked the sweater in the window. Can you show me where it is?"
She glided across the room and took my arm. "Certainly. Your husband has a wonderful eye for style. This is a very classic design. It looks wonderful on everyone and the colors are so vibrant."
She hung my purse out of the way and helped me slip off my tattered old windbreaker. "It's... uhhh... really windy today and... uhhh he wanted to get something to help me stay warm," I stammered.
"He must certainly love you, then. This sweater is a nice weight for days like today." She pulled the sweater up over my shoulders. "How does it feel?"
It felt like falling into a cloud in heaven. Fuzzy softness surrounded me from neck to knee. The chill evaporated from my bones and I could feel a rosy glow creeping up my cheeks.
"It looks beautiful on you," she said earnestly. "Step over here and look in the mirror."
She was right. It looked fantastic and felt great. I knew it would be pricey, but I also knew I would want to wear it every day and it would go with absolutely every piece of clothing I own, so it might be worth a splurge.
"Wow," I breathed.
"Yes," she agreed. She told me the designer's name and said he was well-known for his beautiful, classic outerwear designs.
"It's incredible. I've never owned anything like this before. How much is it?"
Without a crack in her porcelain demeanor, she replied, "Eight thousand five hundred and seventy-five dollars."
I'm sure she was not surprised when I regretfully declined to purchase it. "I understand," she said gently. "But maybe another day, you'll be back."
Brett was waiting for me on the noisy, windy street corner. "So," he shouted above the traffic, "You didn't like it?"
"No. It was perfect. Just too expensive."
"C'mon! It's freezing out here! We just spent over $100 on my jacket! You deserve it!"
No, I'm pretty sure I've done nothing in my life to merit an $8500 sweater. Really, though, has anyone?
Which begs the question: WHO ON EARTH COULD AFFORD SOMETHING LIKE THAT? Seriously, that's so far out of the realm of possibility for 99.9% of the people on the entire planet. That's like so far beyond even doctor-rich or CEO-rich. That's like heiress-rich or movie-star rich.
So, when I see Paris Hilton or Katie Holmes on the cover of People magazine, wearing my sweater, I'll be sure to let you know.