Shannon, my unemployed 16 year old, announced she wants an Escalade. As in a Cadillac Escalade. As in base-price $65,000 Cadillac Escalade. De-lu-shun-ull!
While the practical part of me knows this is a lofty aspiration, especially from someone in Shannon’s position, I can completely understand her irrational belief that an Escalade is somehow attainable. Granted, there is nothing stopping her from working hard and purchasing an Escalade one day, but to think that I should purchase one for her is just unfathomable to me. Suddenly, she’s Kendall Jenner. (Ok, so Kendall only received a Range Rover for her 16th birthday…)
Shannon certainly did not inherit this yearning for expensive items from me. If anything, I am completely the opposite. I often wear second hand clothing, I’ve never set foot in a Tiffany’s jewelry store and my sexy Mom van is just a means of transportation, not a statement of my self worth. However, I can understand her obsession with high-end ticket purchases because she is inundated by pop culture that “expensive” somehow equates to “happy”. I will not argue the point that in most instances, “expensive” lends itself to “better quality”, but I don’t agree that these items will make the average person “happier”. For instance, I don’t own a Coach purse. Are they nice? Sure. Durable? Absolutely. A “fashion statement”? Definitely. But will I be “happier” because I own one? Decidedly not!
I am not discounting anyone’s decision to purchase luxury items; that is their prerogative. However, when a 16 year old believes her life won’t be complete unless she has hubcaps that cost more than my house, well, we are bordering on the insane here. As I watch tv with her, I know where these delusions of grandeur come from: society. The fact that Kelly Osbourne had a $250,000 manicure for the Emmys, tweeted about it and didn’t realize that she had offended people with her ostentatiousness blows me away. (Her manicure included crushed diamonds in the polish.) I understand that this is the world Ms. Osbourne lives in, and that she was not trying to be “in-your-face” with her flamboyance, but the expectation of teenagers nowadays is that dropping a quarter of a mill on your nails is almost commonplace. Why not drop that quarter of a million dollars into something that will last a little bit longer than a shellac nail coating? An education, maybe? Helping others? Those legacies will last a heck of a lot longer than a manicure and an Escalade.
Of course, it’s not just teenagers who get sucked into the flashy lifestyle that inanimate objects can bring us a happiness; it’s adults, too. While I loooove the show “House Hunters,” about people searching for new homes, I oftentimes find myself yelling at the people on tv when they list their “must haves”. Certainly, must haves in a home would include a proper foundation, upgraded installation, a roof and maybe some running water….but, no. Apparently, no home on the market today can be touched unless it has granite counter tops! Aesthetically pleasing, very durable and expensive, granite seems the way to go with home-buyers. However, food prepared on a granite counter top does not taste any differently than food made on even a laminate counter top! The fact that everyone nowadays seems to want granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances makes me think back to when everyone wanted burnt orange shag carpeting–why get sucked into what the masses want?
Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy nice things, but I am not going to stake my happiness on whether or not I obtain a certain vehicle, designer clothing item or piece of pricey jewelry. If I can instill that sensibility into my children so that when they are older they don’t suffer from the disappointment of not “keeping up with Joneses”, then I believe they will be happier for it. Shannon will just have to settle for my unconditional love and support and ponder what it means to her–as she walks to school.