Trumwill was nice enough to lend me a guest-post (I think he’s trying to encourage me to start my own blog). I was wanting some perspective on something.
About a year ago, I was dumped by a girl I’d been dating for about nine months (”Scarlett”). Getting dumped sucks, but what really got to me was the reason she gave. “I’m tired of dating boys. I want to date men.”
This flew me into a silent rage because when I think of man-boys, I think of unemployed or underemployed schmucks who sit around and play World of Warcraft all day in their parents’ basement. But between her and me, there was only one of us that had a well-paying, full-time job and the self-sufficiency that comes with us. It wasn’t her. I’d paid her rent twice when her father started giving her too hard a time about it. I’ve worked at the same company for almost five years while she had quit her last job because her “boss was mean.”
When I told my flatmate (”Miss Blue”) about it, though, she hesitated and said that Scarlett had a point on some things. I keep my room pretty spartan and if it wasn’t for Miss Blue, the common area would be the same. I drive an old car. I dressed like a bum when I wasn’t at work. So Miss Blue helped me out, bought some furniture for my room, and helped me pick out some more presentable clothes. I don’t know if it helped or not, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
My 1996 Geo Prizm is on its last legs. I bought it in 2003 and it’s served me well. But now it randomly dies when driving uphill. In the flatlands where I live, that’s not a problem. Except on entrance ramps. The first repair guy says the transmission needs to be replaced, a second the engine. Either way, it’s more than the car is worth.
The car was another thing that Miss Blue mentioned during our Coming to Jesus talk. As practical as the car was, maybe it was time to upgrade. What good is all the money I make if I don’t spend it? If I act poor, and make the same sort of purchases that a man-boy does, can I really blame the ladies for thinking of me like one of them?
There are things you can and can’t say on a first date. It’s considered in poor taste to mention a six-figure salary. It sounds like bragging to say that I could buy a Lexus tomorrow, if I wanted to. But pulling up in a Lexus? That you can do and almost nobody thinks bad of you for doing it. I gave in on the clothes and the furniture, but it’s more difficult for me to do that with the car. The very reason I have a retirement plan and a 24-month unemployment slush fund is because I don’t do things like going out and buying Lexuses (Lexii?), that I have a flatmate, and all that.
So I end up a rich man leading a poor man’s lifestyle. I’m content with it, for the most part. Part of me wants to say “if she has a problem with that, it’s her problem.” I don’t want a concubine. I don’t want someone who digs me because I’m rich (for a 28 year old). I’d far rather a woman impressed with a 401(k) than a sports car. On top of that, about a third of the time I’m driving a rental car, anyway. And every time I look at the car, I’ll be realizing that I bought it for someone else.
On the other hand, I don’t know how picky I can afford to be. I have some things going against me, too, like a job that takes me out of town for weeks at a time. And there’s a symmetry between what I am doing and the person that goes into debt to buy flashy things they can’t afford. We’re miscommunicating our material value. So some chick that maybe would be cool with my money going into a retirement account might never get the chance to find out that’s my plan.
So as I go car shopping, what do I do? Do I get another cheap-ass car that gets the job done and nothing else? Do I bite the bullet and get a Lexus to potentially please some woman I’ve never met but might want to? Or do I get the car I want? The one I’ll be able to smile about because the total cost of ownership is under $300 (instead of over $600)? Or do I admit that people are what they are, make judgments accordingly, and get something that will accurately represent the fact that I’m a self-sufficient adult?
I make a good living, which was one of the reasons I could pay Scarlett’s rent without blinking. I could buy a Lexus tomorrow, in cash. With Scarlett, this shouldn’t have been an issue because she knew these things.