I am an inveterate snob. Itís something that I have nearly ceased to apologize for. Really, what I mean is this: I am a lover of pleasures of the flesh. I do not refer to The Sex, strictly, but rather a love of the world and the things of the world. I donít bother eating food if itís lousy. I wonít waste my time and money on things that are cheap yet ill-made. I have nothing wrong with things cheap, just so long as they wonít break beyond my skill to repair them.
I guess I find some things worth the money. I have a very high standard when it comes to food, and feel that while charging more money for something doesnít make it better, good bread can cost you. Good store-bought tomatoes will cost you a mint, but I will not eat any other store bought tomatoes. I wonít waste my time on bad, cheap bread, or lousy airy ice cream. I would rather go without (and often do, I am on a studentís budget, believe it or not) than eat lousy food.
I argue with my friend about the four-dollar-a-pound tomatoes my family has been known to buy. Our grocery store has been stocking Brandywines, which are arguably one of the meatiest and flavorful tomatoes bred. If you grow them on your own, they are rich and dark. They are the highlights of my summer Ė I eat them straight in thick slices with olive oil and basil and vinegar. They are also hideously ugly, particularly if you grow them yourself. They break and ooze no matter what, but itís fine, and you just cut away the broken parts and enjoy. Store-bought Brandywines arenít as good as home-grown but theyíre still pretty impressive for store tomatoes. My family feels itís worth it to buy them. I mean, what can I say? We choose to delegate some of our disposable income for good tomatoes, fine bread, good olives and olive oil, champagne vinegar. There are only so many meals in a day, and we make expensive choices. We also make inexpensive choices: we grow our own vegetables; we live out of the garden.
I hate having to justify myself in this regard. I fully anticipate a day when I will not be subsidized by my parents and I will be on a meager income living out of an apartment. I wonít be able to grow tomatoes, and I wonít be able to afford expensive Brandywines. So I will do without, or my parents may send me some canned tomatoes, and really canned tomatoes from the supermarket are fine for most purposes and likely better than fresh tomatoes. I will buy cherry tomatoes, because theyíre good and inexpensive. I will live well without blowing a budget. But I wonít eat lousy food just because I havenít got a lot of money. They donít understand this. They donít understand that I think itís worth it to buy better produce. They think Iím a wild spendthrift, but Iím not, I just think that few things are so intensely pleasurable as a really good orange, or a really good tomato.
Look. I shop at thrift stores. I buy my books and records used. I make my own postcards. I prefer to attend the movies on cheap days, the museums when theyíre free to students. Iím fine with scavenging for furniture, for doing things myself, for saving my money and being frugal. I know Iím an expensive child for my parents but they offer to pay for things and I take them up on it. And yet Iím the extravagant one of my friends. A bad haircut isnít worth the money. My friends may cut my hair for free, but they donít necessarily do a very good job. Sometimes I like going out to expensive places for dinner, though the expense doesnít mean the food is great, the expense alone shouldnít make one cut it out altogether.
Another thing my friends donít understand is this: I donít live in fear of The Bomb. Theyíre all horrified by the end of Dr. Strangelove, but Iím not. If that happens, it wonít be (directly) because of my actions, I mean, Iím an American so I suppose Iím somehow indirectly responsible for what my nation does, but I canít really picture that too well. Anyway, it will be out of my control. Iíll be dead or Iíll be alive, but it wonít matter. There are things in the world that over which I have no control, and I donít worry about them. Itís the things I do control that make me worry because I never seem to have such a great grasp on them anyway. They think Iím such a monster, or beyond comprehension for thinking things like this. I donít understand it.
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