Sunday, June 26, 2011

Financial Stability

So today we went to the Mall. Where shopping led me to a surprisingly disturbing realization about myself.

No, no, let me start earlier...

In December 2006, I joined the United States Air Force. Among the items provided us over those six weeks were 4 sets of BDU uniforms, 2 pairs of Black leather boots, a 4-dimensional green duffel bag...and a pair of New Balance 498 Cross Trainers.

Not being a very active person, I never knew the importance of getting new athletic shoes periodically, so I wore my NB498s for everything even remotely athletic. Squadron PT, after-hours raquetball, mowing the lawn, I wore them all the time, each outing getting them more and more broken-in, scuffed and stained.

Simultaneously, I grew up in a fairly low-income family. Clothes, shoes and outerwear were chosen as much for their thrifty price point as their functionality, and fashion was taken into account not at all. Add in that I've always been on the bare edge of making it, financially, so I've never had spending money, really at all, and shopping is not something that crosses my mind.

So when Jill suggested (nay, demanded) that it was time to buy new clothes, as my 1 pair of long pants (ink-stained and ragged-hemmed jeans) and my 2 pairs of shorts (one khaki and covered in spots of plastic from casting, the other olive green and mended from the multiple times Lilith has torn a hole in them) we suitable for someone who was homeless, rather than a 40+ hr/wk employee of a well-paying video game company, we went shopping.

I ended up with a new pair of jeans, and 3 pairs of shorts in varying colors, the rationale being that it was going to get hotter before it got cooler, and we could go shopping again in the fall. Throw in some new socks and boxers, and the butcher's bill was a mere $120, much less than I feared it would be. But that was all just lead-up.

Today, I was putting on my trusty NB498s, futzing around with repairing a broken lace when Jill again laid down the law.

"Those shoes are disgusting. You've had them for 5 years now baby, they're worn out and look terrible. We need to go get you new athletic shoes."

A little arguing for argument's sake, and off we go to Lakeline Mall, bent on shoe conquest and acquisition.

Journey's? Too skater-oriented. Hot Topic? Too goth. Where the hell does one go to buy athletic shoes in the mall? Oh right, The Finish Line.

The guy at TFL was a very good salesman. He listened to my tale of woe about not knowing what type of shoe I needed for my walking/running style, measured my foot, asked me to sprint the length of the store to watch my run, then pointed out over a dozen styles that would work, ranging from the Clearanced $25 rack to the $150 top-of-the-line, wisely pointing out a pair of $130 shoes that he was currently wearing as being quite comfortable.

I tried different pairs on, noting that while I wore a 10.5 in casual shoes and boots, he'd measured me at an 11. Some more talking with Jill about colors and styles and we agreed that the model the salesman had suggested were the most comfortable, and while he had a white and green pair on, the black and blue ones would fit in better with my current wardrobe choices (I don't have anything in bilious green). I balked a little at the price, but Jill didn't seem to care, something that blew my mind, as she's normally very reticent to spend money.

Then it hit me.

We have the money to spend.

Bills are paid. Savings has been increased. Nothing waiting in the wings. The extra money's just there. Spendable.

So we bought the shoes. They're quite comfortable. And I was sitting here playing some World of Tanks in my comfy new cross-trainers, then something else hit me.

These are the most expensive item of clothing I have ever purchased.

I did a quick inventory to make sure, costumes and garb are right out: Pinstriped Dress Slacks: $80, Legend of Zelda Hoodie $65, Steel-toed Work Boots $50... hmmm okay, that's not working, lets throw in garb and costumes too, but only the stuff I didn't make out of raw materials: Felt Steampunk Hat $35, Zombie Hunter ABUs $100, hell even my Ren Boots were only $125...

This really makes me nervous for some reason. Although it shouldn't.