She Looks, He’s Not Buying It

couple-window-shoppingThe first time my girlfriend and I argued about money, it involved a fancy furniture catalog. She pointed to a glossy photo and said, “I really like this side table. What do you think?”

What did I think? Of a $500 side table? Was she kidding?

At the time, my girlfriend was renting a loft-style apartment that she could barely afford. I knew that she wanted to update a few things, but she was also on a tight budget, so a $300 lamp, a $1000 bed, and, in this case, the $500 side table seemed a little crazy to me.

Then there’s the fact that no guy knows how to answer these questions. In most cases, I usually responded by mumbling, “Mmm. Yeah. I like it. Definitely.” Then I suggest that we make some popcorn.

But this time I decided to tell her the truth.

“Look, okay, I really like that side table. But a $500 side table? Really? It’s not Design Within Reach. It’s completely out of reach! You know what I mean?”

Actually, she didn’t. Come to find out, she looks at these catalogs, she explained to me, patiently, “for inspiration.”

Now, I’m not sure what that means. I consider looking at things I can’t afford depressing. But apparently, there’s this thing women do where they look at stuff they really like, then try to find similar items for a lower price somewhere else.

Or, as my girlfriend pointed out, she doesn’t even think about the prices. It’s all about dreaming and planning for the future. Apparently, it’s a future with a higher income.

I did not know this. Now I do.

I guess there’s nothing wrong with dreaming. Is there?

Matt Bushlow is a writer in Burlington, VT