#92: A $24 Comb on Michigan Avenue

November 28th, 2012

“This is worth $1,200 dollars to me because my torso is always cold but my arms are always warm,” I said, gesturing at a padded vest priced at, in fact, $1.2K.

A man who had obviously tweezed and re-painted his eyebrows walked by as my girlfriend smiled at my joke, biting her lip in that way that just melts me.

We were enjoying a pre-movie stroll down Michigan Avenue, sucking up the Christmas spirit like wet/dry Shop-Vacs of commerce. We had already dipped into Brooks Brothers to indulge my fantasies of a world where everyone dresses like a Bertie Wooster Doctor Who.

Now we were at Nieman Marcus, looking at dresses that cost more than my last car.

“Where would you even wear a $3,000 dress?” I asked. “I would clean my house in it.”

“What do you think those rich ladies wear to galas and openings?” she asked.

“Like Penny Pritzker?”

She shrugged and turned back to the rack, explaining what a bandage dress was. I told her it would look good on her. It would.

“I know I sound like an old man…”

“You always sound like an old man,” she said, leaning into me in that way that makes me feel a little drunk each time.

“But a $24 comb?”

We had seen a comb for sale on the first floor of Nieman Marcus. It was $24.

“That seems to bother you more than all this,” she said, turning her attention back to another four-figure dress that would look fantastic on her.

“I mean, it’s a comb,” I said.

We wandered over to look at shirts. One was marked as $101. I mentioned that.

“People don’t like round numbers,” she said.

We looked at each other for a second. My eyes widened as I got it.

“This is their version of $99.95,” I said.

She nodded.

On this stretch of the Magnificent Mile, it’s more attractive to pay a dollar more than to pay a dollar less. It’s a nudge on the side the rich and fancy want to be on. It’s an invisible reminder they paid more money than they needed to.

Does a $24 comb part your hair better? Or was it more attractive because it was $24?

“Movie’s in 10 minutes,” I said.

She nodded and we started moving. We saw a shimmery paisley suit coat. She joked that I could never wear that now that my appearance was her responsibility.

“Do women think that?” I asked.

“Some do,” she said.

On the escalator down, she wrapped her arms around me. We’re saving up for a trip to Budapest.

“Aren’t you glad I’m so practical?” she said as the escalator took us down.

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