“I never want to go to the nicest steakhouse in town,” said the man doing my manicure.
“What? Why?” I was baffled. He had just been talking about his love of steak.
“Because if I taste something too good, every other steak won’t taste as good.”
My manicurist’s logic didn’t entirely resonate with me, but it definitely got me thinking about the nuances of luxury. Join me for a discussion on luxury (whatever that means), and please jump into the conversation!
When I asked my manicurist to further explain his logic, he said that, for a long time, all he ever knew was Outback steaks, which he thought were fantastic! In his own words, he “didn’t know any better.”
Then, he explained, as he got older, he went to progressively nicer steakhouses on occasion. Those chain restaurant cheaper steaks of yore just no longer did it for him. So, after having a divine $70 steak, he decided he’d never step foot in what is apparently regarded as our city’s finest steakhouse. He didn’t want the $50-$70 range steaks to be ruined for him by tasting some heaven-sent piece of meat for $100+.
As a vegetarian, I can’t directly empathize with his particular dilemma. But his words really got me thinking about the different ways people engage in luxury indulgences.
When I say “luxury” here, I don’t mean it in a strict sense of only certain brands, like Lexus or Louis Vuitton. Here I simply mean anything that is relatively more expensive or otherwise scarcer than a comparable substitute.
For example, I
am addicted to love coffee. I drink it every day. But, 99% of the time, I make plain black coffee at home using an industrial size drum-o-coffee from Costco. The cheap stuff, too. So for me when it comes to coffee, a Starbucks mocha is a luxury. $3.50 for a decadent cup of joe is way more than the 35 cents per cup that my coffee at home works out to be (yes I did the math, yes I’m a nerd).
I think for me, I feel the inverse of the way my manicurist feels. I hesitate to indulge too regularly in luxuries not because I don’t want to ruin everyday experiences, but because I don’t want the luxury itself to feel less special. If I drank a Starbucks mocha every single day, I honestly don’t think I would value them as much. (Tangent musing: Maybe this is one of the reasons they say money “changes people.”)
For me at least, indulging in the finest variety of something generally doesn’t reduce my enjoyment of the mediocre variety. Sure, I’ve had a bottle of Dom Perignon, but I honestly still like cheaper California wines as much as I always have. And yeah, I love indulging in a fancy pants expensive mocha now and again at a nice coffee shop, but my love of plain black Costco brand coffee hasn’t wavered.
My thing when it comes to luxury indulgences is more about keeping them infrequent enough to always be special. Unlike my manicurist, I’m not concerned that a decadent hand crafted latte will ruin my appreciation of black coffee brewed at home. What I am concerned about, however, is that too many hand crafted lattes will ruin my appreciation for the fact that those are a luxury item. Which is why I intentionally make it a point to go out for coffee pretty rarely, even if Dear Betrothed and I can afford it every day.
To me at least, a great deal of satisfaction in life boils down to appreciation, and it’s hard to appreciate something special if it is treated as a given. So, no matter how much money we make, I don’t want to indulge too frequently in luxuries like fancy lattes and fine dinners out. Not because they’ll reduce our enjoyment of black coffee and dinners at home, but because I always want luxuries, no matter how small, to feel luxurious.
Tell me, what does everyone else think? No matter what “luxury” means to you personally, how do you feel it engages with your enjoyment of things?