Reflections at The End of The (Stainless Steel) Gilded Age

Reflections at The End of The (Stainless Steel) Gilded Age

ByGroovy Green Jan 17, 2009

Since the nation has entered the recession to end all recessions, it’s time to do a little self-reflection on what we’ve been spending our money on over the past decade…  Joel Stein of the L.A. Times has come out with his list of the “relics of the good old days“.  I heard about this on a radio program (I won’t say which one) and had to look it up.  Some of the best and snarkiest commentary on our society…

In the clear recessionary morning, all that stuff we’ve been binge buying suddenly looks gaudy and ridiculous. It’s been a 25-year blur of fluorescent Frankie Sez shirts, logo handbags, Hummers and ring tones. We need to have one giant national garage sale and invite the world.

If there are pictures of you with any of the things listed below on Facebook, immediately remove them. Replace them with one of those stately, unsmiling group portraits our grandparents and great-grandparents took that made us feel like we came from important stock. You don’t want your descendants to lose all hope when they realize that Great-Grandpa Jaden was flashing fake gang signs at Treasure Island while downing a Grey Goose and Red Bull before his “American Idol” audition.

Tasting menus: The idea that an appetizer, entree and dessert wasn’t enough — that you had to taste everything — was a pretty clear sign we were on our way toward being a fat, indebted nation. If Morgan Spurlock had tried to follow up “Super Size Me” with a movie in which he had to go 30 days eating only tasting menus — and accept the wine pairings if they were offered — he would have died by Week 2. I went with four people to Per Se in New York, and two of them barfed as soon as we got home. To be fair, it was the most delicious barf they’d ever had.

Stainless steel: Every appliance we touched had to be covered in stainless steel, as if we were low-rent King Midases. How the lamest of metals became the way to show off your wealth is going to confuse the hell out of archaeologists. “No, they actually had gold and silver. And plastics of many colors. They were just easily distracted by cheap, shiny things.” Thank God the recession came, because we were about two years from having to sit on cold stainless steel toilet seats.

Please read on…

This column got me thinking, “what would I look back upon and think, oh God, how did I waste my money on that?”  You know what?  It was actually a little hard to come up with a list.  I guess that is a good thing.  But here goes.  I expect your list in the comments, I don’t want to be the only one confessing.

  • Computer/Gadgets.  My biggest weakness.  Some day I’ll be cursing the cold, wondering why I spent money on iPhones, laptops, and palm pilots instead of putting in that wood stove I keep talking about.
  • Dinners out.  Our gastronomical weakness.  I have to admit we were “stocking up” on good dining experiences prior to the arrival of our lovely daughter.  But $9 for a glass of wine or booze?  Yikes.
  • Kitchen crap.  I don’t mean the good stuff or the essentials.  We’ve got a closet full of miscellaneous equipment, pans, etc. that rarely sees the light of day.  A pan for poaching eggs?  Tartlet pans?  A George Foreman grill?  Sheesh.
  • Vice.  Nights out on the town in New York cost us a bundle, and made buying a beer in Syracuse seem ultra cheap…  Wait, am I feeling guilty for having a good time when I was young?   Scratch this one off the list!  I do admit, the cigarettes in my younger years where a big waste of moola.

Hmmm… I am straining to think of other examples (though I am sure there’s a few).  I am happy to say that I don’t own stainless steel appliances, I’ve shunned bottled water, and I’ve never bought a pair of designer jeans or a “ringtone”.  I’m sure the rest will come to me, when I’m older, and broker, and wondering where the heck my money went.

Alright, your turn to come clean.  What are your reflections on the “stainless steel” age?