I guess ladies like some luxury. She once managed a B & B that was supposedly high end and bragged about the beds and sheets, claiming they were made of some kind of extra soft Egyptian cotton of more than the usual amount of threads, and that if and when we went on one of our little trips out of town, she wanted to stay at a place that had these special sheets as well as certain kind of plump pillows, wanted to stay for at least one night in a 5 star establishment with all kinds of luxurious amenities, but I vetoed this request immediately, claiming I was not about to waste a lot of money on such foolishness, and added that the kinds of hotels and amenities she desired were for people with so much money they didn't care how much anything cost and also were so used to luxury that it meant nothing to them.
Like Donald Trump and the skunks and gold-diggers he hangs out with.
“Well, luxury does mean something to me, and for once I'd like to experience total luxury, even if you don't like it because you're a stupid stubborn caveman who sleeps on a couch.” Miranda exclaimed.
“I consider my couch a luxury,” I insisted. “And it's not a couch, it's a sofa.”
She grimaced, for this sofa has been, since we met in 1989, a bone of serious and often vitriolic contention. She gritted her teeth. “I HATE that couch! It's is a disgrace...it's pathetic...it's...odious, horrible, nobody can believe you've been sleeping on it for over 30 years.”
“It fits my body,” I insisted. “What's important is comfort, not luxury. I'm uncomfortable with luxury. Luxury makes me feel squeamish.”
“There's something really wrong with you,” she said. “You're such an asshole.”
She has a point. Nobody likes my sofa. I bought it from a desperate drug addict for $25 in 1981 when it was fairly new, only about 3 years old and in near perfect condition, while living in Manhattan Beach. I brought it up to Shell Beach in 1986 and slept on it when my mother visited so she could have the mattress on the floor of the lone bedroom. I got used to the sofa and only used the bed when I had a lady visitor. By 1989, while living in Cayucos, I met Miranda and she moved in with me in my one bedroom cottage and we shared her fine bed, silky linen and plump pillows, a temporary improvement over my bedding until my snoring from 3 broken noses drove her batty and she locked me out of the bedroom and sent me to the sofa in the living room with my male cat, Gunner, who terrorized her exotic Persian cat, Frankie.
Well, I've been there ever since, with the exception of female visitations when Miranda gave me the temporary boot. Over the years, I buttressed the sofa with four comforters from thrift shops, which give it a certain spongy warmth, and, to help my lower back, my friend Ethan, a carpenter, stuck a board underneath the flattened foam rubber pads back in 1995. To cover the fraying of the sides, I found shawls from thrift shops. Yes, the sofa is unsightly, perhaps Godawful, but over the years I've grown more and more fond of its staying power and increasing comfort in opposition to luxury.
Miranda said, “You don't even use sheets for God's sake!”
“I prefer comforters. They're snug.”
“You're still using the one I gave you five years ago. It's the only nice thing you own.”
“I treasure that comforter. I hang it out over the rail of my deck every day.”
“You need to wash it.”
“It might disintegrate. I hose it down once a week and the rain and beach air gives it a wonderful fragrance. Plus, I rotate two comforters, a summer one and a winter one.”
When Miranda comes over to sip a glass of wine and watch something on my TV, which is smaller than hers and without HD—another complaint—she gets to sit in my recliner chair, another source of irritation, yet an improvement over the sofa she cringes at or a plastic chair I might bring in from the adjoining deck. The recliner was old when a tennis partner donated it to me about 10 years ago when he and his wife moved. Right now it is fraying badly at the foot and arm rests and needs duct tape, or shawls, but, like the sofa, it fits my body perfectly. While Miranda roosts on the recliner, I retreat to my sofa, always a safe and beloved haven, a perfect place to read, watch TV and work crosswords, though I miss the back rest and have to prop up two pillows she also sniffs at disdainfully, but these pillows, at least 20 years old, fit my head just right and are covered in double cases purchased at the local thrift store for 50 cents a piece. I have plenty of backups.
Miranda actually once got me to stay overnight at a luxury hotel in Monterey, and I was thoroughly miserable. I hated the bed. It was too hard. Miranda lavished the sheets. I found them too clingy. The room was big and she luxuriated in a cushy chair by the window looking out at the ocean sipping a glass of very fine wine, a concession. I had some, too, propped on the uncomfortable bed, missing my sofa and recliner in my tiny front room with a view of the ocean.
I told Miranda, “The TV selection is meager for a 5 star hotel. They want you to pay for movies. Cheapskates.”
“I'm enjoying myself,” she said, lighting up her pot pipe. “Be quiet.”
I told her how I felt that luxury in America and perhaps everywhere was getting out of control. Every time you turned on the TV somebody was trying to sell you a luxury car, or send you to a luxury hotel, or on a luxury cruise with gradations of luxury, or luxury products for grooming and hygiene. Luxury had become a huge word and something a sad race of human beings felt they needed to aspire to, when one could be just as happy living as I did, and aspiring to go an entire lifetime without one shred of luxury. So far, in over 74 years, I cannot recall ever having dwelt in any kind of luxury ($35 is my limit for an entree in fine dining, a bottle of wine $45), though I felt luxurious somewhat 6 years ago when I sold my beloved Honda Civic with over 310 thousand miles and bought A 2002 Toyota Camry with automatic transmission and a few amenities I'd never experienced in Olds and Chrysler heaps I'd bought off the street that were already 20 years old and needed duct tape to hold them together, another irritant to Miranda when we first met.
Once, on an overnight trip to the River Inn in Big Sur, the brakes of the Olds went out and we nearly went over a cliff, and she cussed me savagely.
My parents, growing up in the great depression, of course loved a little luxury, though they never went overboard and were both stumped by my immediate aversion to and mocking of luxury, even as a teenager. This aversion and mockery increased well into adulthood.
“You should appreciate nice things,” My dad said. “You should appreciate a little class and not want to surround yourself with throwaway junk and dress in rags, like a bum.”
“There's nothing wrong with having a few nice things, and a touch of luxury,” mother added.
“You have to pamper nice things,” I explained. “Junk you can abuse and nothing changes. Who cares how it looks or what people think if it fits right and feels good. That Jaguar you bought always breaks down and you always have to wash and wax it, a waste of time and money.”
They gave up and understood that if I was happy to live like a ludite they might as well leave me alone. What they never understood is that not only do I think luxury is nonsense, but also it is one of the more tawdry aspects of the American dream, and that after you make a certain amount of money, or even don't earn a certain amount of money, at some point, having put up with the grind of making a living and accumulating things and money in this life, one feels he or she DESERVES a little luxury, at least.
Thus the cruises, the island vacations, the silky sheets, the $80,000 dollar cars, the clothes, the jewelry, the spas, all the accouterments taken lightly by the super rich are deserved by the rest of the rabble, and for that we are ever so thankful, and can take pictures of ourselves while wallowing in luxury and show them to our friends and relatives, so that we are kings and queens for a day, a week, whatever.
Yeh, I read in the LA Times that more and more 5 star luxury hotels are being built downtown because the wealthy elite demand luxury. More and more luxury mansions with ten bedrooms and eleven bathrooms and tennis courts and pools and movie theaters and servant quarters are being built in the hills above Malibu and elsewhere in LA's exclusive areas, and what I'd like to tell these folks, who travel in Maserati's and Limos and Lear jets is that I''ll take my goddam sofa and recliner and purring jalopy any day.