I spotted my prize in Chicago last weekend while on a girlfriend getaway: a Marc Jacobs white quilted handbag. Retail $1400. On sale for $400.
Was I tempted? Well, not really, because I'm not an idiot who spends $400 on a handbag--one that's white, for crying out loud. (Black? Okay, very tempting....) Plus it's in bad taste to buy luxury goods now. Did you know that? It seems everyone--even those who don't blink at spending $1600 on a bag--are feeling the pinch of the economy. Or they don't feel it's a good idea to flaunt their spending.
It's tacky, say the elite, to buy a new Mercedes with your year-end bonus from the brokerage house this year if your next door neighbor is losing his job. Even the Times says so.
You also may have noticed that your supermarket is displaying comfort foods. (How many jars of Prego are in your pantry?) Stores at the mall are showing sweaters that resemble comfy horse blankets.
And everybody's giving away coupons.
I went to Chicago last weekend with my book club. The trip seemed like a good idea last June when Madame President came up with it, and we bought cheap tickets on Southwest back when the prices were great. Barbara works for a hotel conglomerate, and she got us the "friends and family" rate, which was $49 a night. Which means I paid a bargain basement price for a suite in a luxury hotel (the white robe, the chocolates, the sensuous shower, the maid who unpacks your suitcase and arranges your cosmetics in the bathroom, the lotions, the fresh popcorn--the works!) overlooking Grant Park and Lake Michigan. The room was almost as stunning as the view. Because business is so bad in the hotel trade, we were practically the only guests, and the staff treated us like queens. We tipped like crazy, but they gave us all kinds of perks that have spoiled me completely. The restaurant, in fact, treated us to THEIR ENTIRE MENU. I'm not kidding. It was a feast for . . . well, queens.
We went to the art museum, had lunch at the old Marshall Field department store, gawked at the Christmas decorations, strolled through Escada just for fun and basically enjoyed a fabulous city for a couple of days. It was a real girl getaway. (There was even a handsome sports celebrity on our airplane. We got close enough to know how delicious he smells. We might have gotten closer, but he was with his lovely wife. And she looks like a potentially fabulous girlfriend, so we didn't want to stir up anything that might prevent girlfriendliness.)
And we laughed. We had a hilarious time. Except for an hour we spent consoling one of our members who just lost her job and the ten seconds when Molly decided to turn around on the escalator and try to come back up, nearly catching her long coat on the mechanism. We were horrified, and then--when she was okay--we howled.
So . . . despite the fact that I don't own a Marc Jacobs handbag, here's what I'm thankful for this year:
Not just my book club pals, but the Tarts, the TLC community (even the guys count as girlfriends around here, and don't be offended, please) plus my Trusted Friend, my email pals, my neighbors, my college sorority sisters, my fellow writers, my former roommate, my Sisters in Crime, The Six (you know who you are!) and my mother, my aunt and my daughters. My girl friends.
Author Lynn Smith-Lovin says friendships are on the wane. All of us are more isolated than ever, working harder, staying at home during our leisure hours because of the economy--all the things that cause friends to drift apart. Not my friends, though. In case you haven't gotten the memo, ladies, we're making a pact. Best Friends Forever means starting now, making the effort, staying in touch, forgiving, enjoying, reaching out, sharing a laugh, lasting until they screw down the coffin lid.
Who needs another handbag when you have good girlfriends?
Oh, wait. Here's one more thing I'm grateful for. My grandson Bobby! Three months old this week.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. And best of luck tomorrow on Black Friday. (I'm staying home. How about you?)