Friday, January 2, 2009

Luxuries We Can't Live Without

Looking in the mirror the other day, I noticed a nasty case of dark roots with hideous gray wire poking through. I immediately made an appointment with Hubert, my colorist. In the past I have experimented with drug-store rinses, but they weren't strong enough to coat the coarse gray strands. And before I discovered Hubert, I tried a succession of less-expensive colorists whose efforts to camouflage the gray turned my hair either too dark or too red. Fortunately, Hubert the genius got it just right, and I've been going to him religiously for years. The problem is, Hubert works in a fancy French salon, a single process costs $180, those damn roots sprout like clockwork, and we're in a killer recession.

I asked Hubert if the economic downturn has affected business at the fancy French salon. He confided that many customers have lost their jobs and several lost their life savings to Bernard Madoff, the Ponzi scheme swindler. "I guess they can't come to the salon anymore, right?" I asked. "Oh, they still come," he said philosophically. "You can sell your home and downsize, but you HAVE to get your roots done."

This sounded ludicrous at first, but then I thought about my own cost-cutting campaign. Because of the financial crisis, I've lost significant income as a freelance writer, and I panicked as my stock market investments hemorrhaged. So I slashed my budget severely -- eliminating travel, avoiding restaurants, eschewing taxis, and resisting the urge to buy clothes, shoes, earrings, picture frames -- in short, any non-essential. I even keep the thermostat in my home at a bracing 64 degrees. Yet today I gratefully plunked down $180 for that root touch-up, and while I was at it I threw in another $50 to have my unkempt brows shaped by the Eyebrow Lady, another genius at the salon. With tax and tips, I spent nearly $300. But I looked and felt great. There are some luxuries a girl can't do without, even in a recession.

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