Sunday, August 10, 2008

Bigger, Better, Faster, Stronger

Sometimes my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

I remember back to the days when I wore banana clips and braces. Dinner time would come around and I would heap my plate with a mountainous pile of mashed potatoes. I'd keep spooning the made-from-scratch starchy goodness out of the pot, right next to my valley of frozen peas. Then I'd dip the ladle in the center to create a crater full of brown gravy.

My mom would warn me about taking too much, but I'd brush off her comments, exclaiming that mashed potatoes were my favorite thing in the whole wide world!

Most of the time I'd pack those potatoes away, filling every nook and cranny in my stomach, but sometimes, just sometimes I'd struggle to finish my share. And that's when my mom would get even by denying me rights to another mountainous serving - this time of fudge ripple ice cream.

Okay. I'll admit it. Sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. And every time I'm reminded that maybe it's okay to make do with a little less.

I guess that's a good life lesson to learn.

Think about the dude driving along side you during your morning commute. You might be travelling in a four-door rat trap or a two door compact and he's cruising down I-71 going 75 miles an hour in an Escalade worth 85.

You're getting 28 miles a gallon, sipping on your Folgers home brew and debating whether Chipotle fits in your lunchtime budget, and Jethro's checking the time on his Rolex while reading email on his 3G iPhone and drinking his Starbucks red eye.

Do we really need all that?

The ads in the magazines tell you yes. They show glossy images of Tacori diamonds and half-dressed women shlocking bottles of Chanel. Whether you are reading Cosmo or Vanity Fair or Esquire or the New York Times Magazine, the pages are full of ads using sex and glamour and status - and it's all a move to make you want more, more, more.

And I'll ask again - do we really need all that?

Because, chances are, Jethro and the rest of his conspicuous gang are mortgaged to the hilt, facing a pile of credit card debt - and that's what's rocking this nation's financial stability.

Which makes me wonder - who really owns that Rolex, then, anyway? Capital One?

What's in YOUR wallet? It's probably not cash.

There's a great article in the latest issue of U.S News and World Report talking about the shift from consumerism, or anti-bling, as one of their experts called it.

The article says the high price of gas, pared with other rising costs and the growing Green movement are all leading to a drop in consumerism. And maybe that's a good thing. The article says Americans are buying less and saving more - a wise move all around.

I like nice stuff as much as the next girl. I've got pretty shoes, some nice smelling perfume and plenty of jewelry to bedazzle my ears, neck and fingers. For all my whims and desires, I've fought the good fight and am winning the war against those influences in the magazines.

I buy things when I need them. Sometimes I buy the best (because you get what you pay for), and other times I buy the store brand or the generic version (because it gets the job done).

But I always pay with cash.

Lately I've been trying to buy less - whether it be clothes, shoes or groceries. I'm trying to make do with what I have and bring new life to the old clothes, the old CDs the old books in the closet.

And I'm going out less, too. I'm indulging in one "big night out" a weekend. Instead of my regular habit of dining out and take-out, I'm inviting my friends over for a home cooked meal. I'm scouting out the produce section as I plan my menus and I'm eating leftovers for lunch at the office.

I don't need bigger, better, faster, stronger.

I just need good enough - and sometimes that means eating more mashed potatoes at home.


Denae said...

dying to hear about D.C. post soon!!!

Brian Who Cooks said...

Kate... you're right, we do over-consume both financially and gastronomically. I am as guilty of it as others.

A good book to read is Andrew Tobias' "The Only Investment Guide You'll Ever Need". While it deals mostly with investing, it does have some good spending advice.

Anonymous said...

I'm getting worried. No posts in 5 days. Everything OK?