Sunday, March 11, 2012

Expen$ive Ta$te

My brother thinks I'm spoiled, and though he may be partially correct, please allow me to explain myself before you pass judgment.  In the past, I had the privilege of experiencing some unique fine dining situations.  In college, I dated a Floridian pastry chef and, with that, came the perks of a certain type of lifestyle.  Whenever I'd go visit the Sunshine State (that is Florida, isn't it?), he used his pull and connections in the culinary industry to wine and dine me.  From these experiences, I may have developed what my mom likes to call "expensive taste," but I assure you it was long before these evenings of 5-course meals out that my appetite for the finer things in life had been whetted--and by the way, my parents also played a huge role in tempting my tastebuds.

In fact, by age 3, I had been to Hawaii--not once--but twice!  While I'm sorry to say that one of my fondest memories of these extravagant vacations was going for a walk with my granddaddy to discover hundreds of dead frogs along the road after a rainstorm, I am not embarrassed by my not-so-humble beginnings.  I know how truly blessed I have been to experience many things most people only dream of--and THAT, my friend, may make me spoiled, but it does NOT make me a spoiled brat.

Unlike the children of Hollywood's richest celebrities, I didn't wear designer clothes on the playground...nor did I receive a brand new sportscar when I turned 16.  Don't get me wrong--I was well-cared for, but I wasn't unbelievably spoiled.  While my parents footed the bill for my five-year college education and sorority dues so I wouldn't be in debt up to my eyeballs resulting from student loans 20 years down the road, I am not oblivious to the sacrifices they had to make to be able to cover these expenses.  I am grateful for everything I've ever been given, but I'm not so spoiled that I feel entitlement to a handout.  I am now out on my own in the real world, a fully capable 31-year-old working woman who is her sole support. 

I've had some tough financial times, and I must admit it's nice to know I don't ever have to worry about my electricity being shut off or living in a cardboard box at the airport because my parents will always be there if I need them.  But I can honestly say it's not their finances I'm most reliable on--it's their unconditional love and support that I'm most thankful for.

I'm very girly, and it's true that I have a great love of food and fashion.  There are times when getting dressed up and going out on the town for a fancy meal is all it takes to make me happy, but I don't expect such luxuries on a daily basis.  It's just nice to experience "richer fare" once in awhile for a special occasion.  Just last week, Jeremy surprised me and took me out for my birthday to my all-time favorite restaurant--Bob's Steak & Chop House.  He even wore a suit! (and looked incredibly handsome).  While his choice of restaurant was surprising, the real surprise was that he was willing to pick up the check at such a place. 

You see, Jeremy and I are two very different people.  Five-star dinners are not his choice of money well spent.  He would be happy eating at El Fenix every single day (I'm dead serious) in jeans and a T-shirt.  While I greatly enjoyed dinner and his thoughtful birthday surprise, I must confess it took just a tiny bit of my joy away when he looked at the bill, paused, and then said he was "crying a little on the inside."  I guess I will just have to realize that he and I will never agree on spending money this way.  Sometimes, I believe the experience is worth the money when he always wants to have something to show for it.  So I'll just have to hit up the ritzy wine bars with my dad--a fellow lover of the finer things in life.  (Come on--where do you think I got it?!) 

I spend most of my hard-earned money on clothes and shoes, but I don't own a pair of Louboutins, and there's not a single garment from Neiman's hanging in my closet.  I enjoy a $40 glass (yes, I said glass) of wine on occasion (usually when Dad's paying!), but I'll drink the $3 bottle of Oak Leaf from WalMart on a weekly basis.  I enjoy fancy vacations to tropical paradises, but I'm just as happy going on a 3-day road trip to New Braunfels in South Texas.  You see, it's all about balance.  There's nothing wrong with occasionally splurging and still being able to appreciate the everyday stuff, too.  That's what truly makes a person "refined"--their experiences in life.  I'm happy to say I've had many that I wouldn't trade for the world--and they've made me who I am today.  So yes, I may shell out big money for name-brand cosmetics, highlights, cute shoes and the occasional designer handbag, but I don't take any of it for granted.  After all, it's just "stuff"....and besides, I already know that the best things in life aren't things.

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