All charming people, I fancy, are spoiled. It is the secret of their attraction. -- Oscar Wilde
'Do you want to go see Spamalot?" I asked David. We sat at opposite ends of our living room facing our respective computer screens. "Sure," he said, the same way he would if I had offered him a Diet Coke. Spamalot, a musical written by Eric Idle, is based on Monty Python's The Holy Grail. In a way that is adorably geeky, David possesses enough Monty Python paraphernalia to classify him as a die-hard fan equivalent to the most dedicated Trekkie. When I hear him say something nonsensical in a British accent, I accurately assume that he is quoting from one of the Pythons' 45 episodes and four movies.
"Cool, I'll book the trip right now," I said, and hopped on Expedia. Though I prefer Kids in the Hall when it comes to sketch comedy, the opportunity to venture forth for a funny musical was one I could not pass up. If it were not for Kip, whose e-mail I had just read inviting us to the show, I wouldn't have known about Spamalot. After a successful opening in Chicago, the show was headed for Broadway -- and so were we.
Before I met David, weekend trips across the country were unthinkable and impractical -- a privilege reserved for the faces that stare back at me from the covers of magazines when I'm waiting in line at Ralphs. But the man I love has taught me that such luxurious self-indulgence is a part of living. This would be our fourth weekend trip to the Big Apple in two years.
The first time we made the journey because David wanted to view a ParkeHarrison photograph that was on display at the Bonni Benrubi Gallery in Manhattan. While in the city, we saw three shows in two days (Stomp, Blue Man Group, and De La Guarda). By the time we left, David had Low Tide, the photo he'd come to examine, and I had a better sense of rhythm.
Several months later, we made the trip back to Benrubi's gallery for an exhibition of David's own work. Our third jaunt eastward was almost a year ago, when we flew out to attend a surprise birthday party for a celebrity doctor at the legendary Friars Club. And now we were traveling those 3000 miles for a musical.
As is just about everything I do, this trip was carefully planned well in advance (a good thing, because the entire season sold out shortly after we procured our tickets). David and I agreed that this should be a top-notch expedition -- we traded in 60,000 hard-earned miles for first-class seats to New York and back. I booked us a room at the swankest hotel in SoHo, known for catering to A-list celebrities and lesser-known hip cats like us.
Just as he has spoiled me by introducing finer wines, foods, and high-end modes of travel to my life, David has inadvertently made it impossible for me to be appeased by any Ramada, Sheraton, or Holiday Inn. When I think back on the motel room I rented late one night in Anaheim after partying with my drag queen friend Sassy, I shudder with retrospective disgust. Young and happy for a bed, Sassy and I didn't think twice about the unmentionable gunk that, these years later, I am certain covered the matted carpet and encrusted the brownish '70s-style blanket whose hideous pattern only aided in concealing the filth. I remember gagging when I stepped into the cramped, dank shower stall reminiscent of the one I shared with classmates at sixth-grade camp.
Now, spoiled rotten, I am incapable of falling asleep unless wrapped inside a down comforter with 300-thread-count sheets on a king-size mattress topped with a featherbed in a room with original art, fresh flowers, a soaking tub, and a rainshower head surrounded by glass doors within a large marble or granite bathroom worthy of its own spread in Dwell magazine. Fortunately, all this luxury can be had -- for a price. However, despite appearances, I'm not, as my father would say, "shitting money."
According to Dad, every penny I make should be squirreled away for the inevitable emergency, like a typhoon or other random act of God that is not covered by insurance. David, the other main man in my life, has a very different philosophy. He maintains that, within reason, you should not deny yourself the rewards of your hard work until you are too old to enjoy it.
I exist somewhere in between the two. I think it's important to have a financial buffer -- meaning, I cannot relax without enough money in the bank to cover at least one month's worth of bills plus contingencies, such as an unplanned car repair.
But, if I have any money left over after stashing away my emergency fund, I will not only spend it in a heartbeat, I will savor every moment of giving the green away for something I'm convinced I deserve. This is where we agree; David is the least judgmental person when it comes to what people choose to spend their money on.
For example, the last time we were in New York, we happened upon the Hat Shop while traversing SoHo. I tried on a $500 hat the way I'd feel up jewelry in the platinum section of Tiffany's: look, maybe touch, fantasize about, but do not ever, could not ever buy.
"That looks great on you," David said as I fingered the wide, rich-woman-at-the-races brim of the hat that was already perched on my head.
"Really? Yeah, it's great, isn't it? But I'd never get it." At this, his brows furrowed, forming little question marks in the skin of his forehead.
"I couldn't," I said, in answer to his quizzical silence.
"Because it's expensive." I found it exasperating that he didn't understand this.
"Well, why do you work so hard, if not to be able to buy yourself something you love?"
He has a point, but could that be right? Yes. Yes, yes, yes!
"Good point," I said. Then, to the redhead standing by, "I'll take it." I bought the spectacular Audrey Hepburn wannabe accessory for my head. And another. And another. Until the lady of the shop raced to measure my head and make up my profile in her "repeat customers" database.
As I signed the credit card slip, a voice in my head said, "How could you? Do you know how irresponsible this is? Couldn't that money have gone toward your school loans or car debt or anything practical?"
This, of course, was drowned out by another, much louder voice squealing with delight, "You are going to look so fucking fabulous on Martha's Vineyard next month. So. Fucking. Fabulous."
So it wasn't a coincidence that of the two boutique hotels we favor in the city, I again booked us a room at the one a few doors down from the Hat Shop. Though the other boutique boasted "on-call therapy," I figured blowing some cash on a fabulous new hat was therapy enough. The day before we saw Spamalot, I bought two more hats -- another elegant Audrey Hepburn number and a giant red floppy thing from Madagascar.
On my way home, I relaxed with free refills of red wine in a lush seat to help prepare myself for the slower pace and milder climate of America's Finest City. Sure, the sound of my credit cards weeping was audible above the hum of the aircraft, but the cards' pain is a small price to pay for the weekend I had. David may have spoiled me in the beginning, but in the end I learned a valuable lesson: there's nothing wrong with living well.
Diary of a Diva from previous weeks