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Girl (2) December 19, 2008

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

[For the first installment of “Girl,” click here.]

In the past two weeks, I have tried on approximately $18,000 worth of jewelry (retail).

Strolling through a not-so-faraway town, I discovered a new shop that features estate jewelry. I tried on a killer diamond(s) ring with a beautiful Victorian setting, price tag $6,800. The proprietor tried to steer me toward another ring as well, one that cost about $3,000. It was interesting, but not as nice as the first.

While there, I also tried on a big chunky, angular gold bracelet with more diamonds, a really cool piece from—did she say 1930s? or the decade before or after?—I’d never seen anything quite like it. It could be mine for a mere $4,800.

Those ring and bracelet prices made the slinky art deco diamond-and-ruby earrings at $1,500 seem practically a steal.

(Does this happen to you? You enter the world of the entirely impossible—or at least crazy—a world with numbers that for you are essentially theoretical and meaningless, and by the time you leave, the lower numbers, still out of your reach, sound like a deal!)

I left without spending any money and had a great time with the proprietor, but there’s a part of me that feels guilty for wasting someone’s time. (There’s a shop in Portland that I’ve avoided for more than a year now, being afraid they will recognize me and think, “Oh, there she is again. That tease.” I once tried on a stunning yellow diamond ring there that was—oh, what was it? $16,000? They sold it. But not to me.)

In other posts, I’ve mentioned my earlier quest to own a dozen watches. I’ve since discovered the downside to this: battery maintenance. Yesterday I wanted to wear a particular watch to my office holiday lunch. The battery was dead. I checked the other watches, which is what I do when I discover one has died, and found two more dead. I threw them all in an envelope with a plan to stop at the jeweler’s on the way to work.

En route, I considered my finances. Maybe I should just replace one battery now, not three. Maybe I could wait a month, then replace the other two. I’d decide when I walked in the door.

I went with one battery replacement, for $8. That may seem pricey ($4 battery, $4 labor), but hey, they have the tools, they do all the work, and they’re fast. It’s a convenience. While the jeweler was replacing the battery, I checked out the cases. There was a yellow-diamond-with-diamonds ring, a new ring in an old-fashioned setting (frankly, I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to styles and eras—my feeble mind just points and says, Look! Pretty!). After I’d paid for the battery, I asked to try on the ring.

It was gorgeous, but too small. Free sizing, though, if I bought it—$1,800, I think. The jeweler asked if I had a Secret Santa.

Poor guy didn’t even know about the $16 I wasn’t dropping.

Is there a name for this behavior? Playing dress-up with no intention whatsoever to buy?

And is it wrong?


1. Joya - December 19, 2008

No, it’s not wrong. It’s fun! (I think that’s the name of the behavior, too)

If you ever do by one of those fancy pieces of estate jewelry, I’ll have to start calling you ‘Cindy McCain.’ 🙂

2. indigobunting - December 19, 2008

See, now it’s that kind of threat that will help keep me from going through with it! Thank you!

3. She She - December 19, 2008

I think it’s called playing.

You’re giving the proprietors a gift — your presence.

4. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - December 19, 2008

I think you need to approach these expeditions as if you were extraordinarily wealthy but terribly discriminating. “Oh, that’s lovely, but Muffy had one just like it last week at the club, and I just couldn’t show my face there ever again. Now that one—that’s something I could really sink my teeth into. How much did you say? Seventy-five? Oh. I really wanted something with a little more heft. Perhaps in the twelve to fifteen range?” Then of course nothing quite strikes your fancy.

Now THAT’S playing.

5. Cedar Waxwing - December 19, 2008

I do the same with electronics. I ask to play with fancy gadgets, but rarely buy them.

6. Helen - December 21, 2008

I’m too afraid to even go into jewelry shops, because I’m sure they will instantly sense my penury. So you’re a role model for me.

7. Adam Byrn Tritt - December 23, 2008

I do the same thing in hat stores. I try everything on and then, at the right moment, my wife will enter and remind me there is barely room another hat. I’ll complain about her purses and backpacks. We play-fight in the store. Then I shrug, make an appropriate perfunctory comment depending on the company, and leave. Then we get coffee and laugh about it.

There is one in particular in South Street in Philly we have done this in three times. They offer her the “Pretty Lady Discount.” I point out the famous people who bought hats there. Sometimes I point at the famous person actively buying a hat there. That all makes it even more fun.


It helps to adapt one’s accent to one far from where the store is. That’s the only drawback with the Philly store. They spot her as a local. It leaves her apologizing for having married a Bostonian.

We do this with linens as well. And furniture. Our game is “good customer, insane customer.” We switch roles. We lost the game this week for the first time.

Now I have a new car.

I could have had a hat.

8. indigobunting - December 29, 2008

Adam: So, are you off to South Street Hats when you’re in Philly? Sounds like great fun. I would love to see one of these exchanges in action.

A new car, eh? Not bad.

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