August 12, 2011
We all have our extravagances: Starbuck's lattes, gym memberships, plastic surgery, $900 shoes
I read Friday a story about a Blackhawk woman with a penchant for plastic surgery, luxury cars and luxury department stores. Hmm, is there any other kind of Blackhawk woman? Me-ow.
I pondered this woman's spending habits after my blog post from Thursday, in which I raised the question of whether rich people who buy $200,000 cars and $900 shoes in this difficult economy are tacky, selfish jerks.
Let's just say if I were rich, I would still think it silly to spend so much money on a car or shoes. To me, a car is simply a vessel to get me from Point A to Point B. I don't want it to smell or break down, and I want the heat, air-conditioning and radio to work decently. If you saw my scratched and dented 15-year-old Corolla you would know I am so not a car person.
As for the shoes? I concede that those Christian Louboutin dress shoes I picked out to illustrate my post are very pretty. But seriously, none of us could find shoes that are just as pretty and well-made for hundreds less? After all, how many times would any of us wear shoes like that? How much would a rich woman wear them? Us: a few times. Her: probably just once. Are they really worth about $60 less than a minimum wage worker in California would earn for three weeks' work?
I'm envious and bitter, I confess.
I also admit I have my own extravagances. I indulge in lattes and I have kept my gym membership, even those are two things that people typically cut out when they want to live more frugally. Well, the latte is a way I sometimes treat myself even though I know I could use what I spend on lattes in a year to buy those Louboutin shoes.
Oh shit, that really puts my coffee habit into perspective, doesn't it?
OK, the gym membership. I really do use my gym. It's not a luxury. I regard it as a health care expense, even though the IRS wouldn't allow me to deduct it as such.
My point is that we all have our extravagances. It's funny how we come to see them as necessities. Society tells us they are necessities, or we tell ourselves they are. We believe we need them to provide us with a sense of security, well-being, identity.
During the boom-boom years before the crash, people came to believe they couldn't live without a home remodel, home ownership. They got themselves into crushing debt buying their pieces of the American dream in East Contra Costa, or in Walnut Creek or in Blackhawk.
Speaking of Blackhawk, the woman I mentioned above, Kathleen Dake, apparently came to believe that plastic surgery, shopping at Bloomingdales and owning and maintaining a Porsche were necessities. Dake so much needed them in her life that she broke the law and pretty much risked everything to pay for them: her integrity, her job, her reputation, her freedom.
Dake was arrested in May on charges of embezzling more than $400,000 from St. Isidore's Catholic Church in Danville, according to the Contra Costa Times. She was the church's bookkeeper. OK, given that she stole from the Church, does that put her immortal soul at risk, too?
Dake has been in custody since May. Wow, what a reversal of fortune: from Blackhawk to County Jail in Martinez; from a Bloomingdale's wardrobe to an orange jail jumpsuit.
Then again, the strangely gated community of Blackhawk is in its way as stifling and soulless as a cell in county jail. That's right, if I were rich, I wouldn't choose to live in Blackhawk.
Dake's got another 200 days to go in County Jail. On Thursday, she pleaded no contest to five counts of embezzlement and was sentenced to 300 days.
I wonder if Dake sees her extravagances as worth it.