It was likely in high school English class that I first learned about themes and motifs running through narratives. Central concepts a writer would try and convey over the course of a text. Sly little nods here and there or obvious plot points with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. These planted moments summed up into an overarching conceit. It’s a gripping way to form a story and helps bring the reader along for the ride. It’s becoming increasingly apparent in the tale of my life that I have a central conceit. I have no realistic idea of how much things should cost.
Maybe my pricing is stuck back in the 90s. When my relationship with money was being formed, I knew what the price of fish was. Inflation be damned, I’d drilled into my noggin how much things cost and that was that. As time has ticked and money incrementally has been worth less, my opinions on the matter haven’t changed. Now I’m stuck in a rut where I don’t buy things that often because my expectations are off base. I shudder to think how generations removed feel about paying $20 for a film and ice cream these days, a far cry from their 2c movies with 1c dairy treats. That kind of inflation blows my mind sky high. That’s 666.6 (reoccurring) times what it used to cost. How much was fish in those days?
The area where this came up for me lately was buying sexy underwear. If I want something more impressive than my standard boxer briefs, it’s natural to assume that they’ll cost more. I’m on board with that. It’s tricky though, knowing precisely how much. I have no metric for this kind of scale. What kind of price do you put on sex appeal? If my basic Kirkland briefs cost $13 for 4 pairs, how much should I be willing to part with for one pair of sexy appealing ones? Looking around at brands like Calvin Klein, Jockey, etc, the going price seemed to be around $30 for one pair. Animated as I act sometimes, I’m not a literal cartoon, so my eyeballs didn’t physically leave my head. Internally it felt like my eyes were shaking their heads in disapproval. Being a price curmudgeon, it’s rare for me to ever purchase something at full price. I looked for some others in a more pleasing price range, say at least 50% off. After some time the best I could find for something that looked worth a few shekles more was $12 for a pair. That’s a singular pair of boxer briefs, not 2 boxer briefs. Though I bought 2 pairs, so there we are. Confusing. Is that a realistic price? Was I still paying too much? In the end, was I paying for a brand, an aesthetic or attaching a dollar amount to sexual self-confidence?
Any discussion of money is gonna devolve into how “money” is an abstract concept. The worth of money is fluid and continually depreciating. Attaching value to a price then, is erroneous in itself. Somehow still, I always feel like my money should be worth more than it is. A strange self-inflated notion, in what society would that be given credence? Am I inferring self-importance to currency? Others are happy to pay the set price, but I’m not? Or does my adherence to capitalism mean that I’m attaching value in the form of a non-specific dollar amount to doing work? In this scenario, the work is shopping around, searching for the best price. My reward is the lower price than those who aren’t willing to put the time or effort in? Fuuuuuck me. We need a new workable system.
I think I need a price and reality check. How much should things cost and how do I bring my internal database in line with the rest of the last few decades? I’ve seen The Muppet Christmas Carol, I know what happens to Scrooge and I don’t want a spirit visit if I can help it.