For What It's Worth

I could feel her looking me up and down through the lenses of her designer Ray Bans (worth $145) as I purchased a Caffe Mocha Grande (worth $4.65) and proceeded to spill it on my Tommy Hilfiger men's polo shirt ($39.75), dooming my blind date from the start. Later on when we actually had dinner at an upscale steakhouse ($235 plus tip) and traded numbers on our iPhones (approx. $1000 each), I knew my chances of her taking any future calls from me were beyond slim. We made small talk (cheap) while waiting for the valet parking ($12) attendant and then I watched as she got into her brand new BMW 5 series ($65,895) and drove off. A moment later and my 2014 Toyota Corolla ($11,575) arrived. I gave the man a tip ($3) and then drove to the neighborhood liquor store, purchased a six pack of Voodoo Ranger 9% IPAs ($14.99), went back to my apartment ($2,200 monthly) and proceeded to drown my sorrows (not worth a plugged nickel).

So, yeah, I get what you're thinkin', "Hey, cheapskate, you couldn't have tipped the dude a five-spot? The poor guy's drenched in sweat from having run a block and a half in too-tight dress shoes on slippery, grimy city streets and then up a flight of stairs to the second level of a dimly lit, sketchy garage to retrieve your increasingly early model vehicle and you repay him with three measley dollars?!"... For the record, it's a made-up story so chill. And, of course, what I'm actually referring to is my totally unnecessary fixation on the cost of everything from shades, java, wheels and rented cribs to suspect tipping practices. If the thought was to establish that the woman's tax bracket far exceeded mine then the car comparison would've sufficed. That and whether she paid for the meal (she didn't; I did). Again, the whole thing never happened so... moot point. Bottom line: this shining a light on the cost of everyday stuff has absolutely nothing to do with the price of eggs (through the roof!) but is, rather, a heavy-handed attempt to introduce our preoccupation with worth, leading specifically to that of individuals.

Indeed, nothing hits home our predilection for "all things wealthy" more than our total obsession with the net worth of celebs. So much so that if you conjure up anyone famous on Yahoo you'll find emblazoned, right after name and date of birth, their net worth. Seriously, their significant other, their children, their education and major accomplishments take a back seat to how much money these fat cats have raked in through the years. And while this might seem like a relatively new phenomenon, it's been gaining traction for decades, starting with television's "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" where Robin Leach offered us "Champagne wishes and caviar dreams" while pulling back the curtain of the top 1% so all the commoners could swoon. Soon after, "MTV Cribs" and VH1’s "The Fabulous Life Of" got into the act while People Magazine fawned over all things Kardashian. Or anyone else who had enough money to buy their own country.

As colossally superficial and irritating as this plays, the reality is that it's here to stay. The "Swifties" will go gaga over Taylor's net worth (a billion-plus dollars) while the "Lady" sharing that adjective pales in comparison ($320 million). Hip hop fans will marvel at Doja Cat scratching out $8 million big ones while 50 Cent is worth sixty million times his moniker. Selena Gomez will blow us away at $800 million (who knew?) while Dr. Phil, a man who never made a house call (and isn't a licensed doctor) is diagnosed with $440 million. And in the "Really, That's It?" column: Lindsay Lohan checks in at just $2 million ("Mean Girls" karma?); Tori Spelling only $1.5 million (obviously not Daddy's fave) and Dennis Rodman rebounds a meager $500K (used to spend that nightly at the clubs). That's right, anyone who's anyone--and plenty who aren't--have their perceived value in print for the public's viewing pleasure 'cause we, as a society, have really become that superficial... Just sayin'.

The next morning I awoke, plenty hungover, immediately scarfing down a couple Tylenol (60 cents). I brewed a pot of coffee on my Cuisinart Coffee Maker ($80) while picking at the remains of two-day old pizza ($17) and checking my phone messages (0). So much for the blind date. But then... a silver lining (gotta be a fortune, right?). My old girlfriend, the one I never got over, was at the front door ($700), inviting me to a baseball game. I smiled, immediately grabbing my old Rawlings mitt (($89) and followed her to her '19 Honda Civic ($18,950). We had great seats ($110 each), hot dogs ($14) and beer ($28) and I actually caught a foul ball ($7) which I presented to her, resulting in the two of us being highlighted on the huge center field Kiss Cam where she pulled me close, smooching me passionately (priceless).