We went to the Luxurious Lifestyles Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center last weekend to see if there was anything we didn't have. We were gratified to find that while there were many things we didn't have, there was very little we wanted.
My wife was tempted by the new computerized sewing machines. She had no idea they had become computerized. She learned to sew as a girl on a Singer with a foot pedal, and about 30 years ago she bought a new electric and took in sewing to pay for it. She has been happy with it ever since. Now that she knows they're computerized, she may never be happy again.
Before we entered I said, "Let's don't buy anything," remembering that I had said the same thing before we entered the Moroccan rug market.
"No," she agreed, just as she had in Morocco. Somehow that left me feeling insecure.
She was also interested in a new trash disposal cart. It is a frame with wheels. You put a trash bag over it and wheel the trash out to the sidewalk, then remove the bag.
"No more cans," the salesman said. "It's the trash bag of the '90s."
"You deserve it," I told her. But of course she already has the cans, and she was afraid the bags would be expensive.
A Spartan II sports car caught my eye. It was gleaming white. It had the look of the early 1930s, with wheel wells in swept-back fenders and twin horns above the bumper. It was $65,000.
"They have a do-it-yourself kit," my wife said.
For $17,950 they would sell you the "entire component package," together with a four-hour videotape telling you how to assemble it.
I couldn't help laughing at the prospect of my assembling an automobile from a videotape. I would be lucky if I could get my VCR to play the tape. I would have no more chance of assembling a car than I would have of assembling an atom bomb.
My eyes slid back along the length of a dark-blue Lincoln stretch limousine. It looked even longer than the ones I had seen slinking around Beverly Hills.
"How long is that car?" I asked the salesman.
"Nineteen feet," he said, not seeming embarrassed.
"Does it have a bar in it?" Like most stretch limos the back windows were opaque, so people on the street couldn't see in.
"It has two bars," he said.
"One for the driver?"
"No, they're both in back. One is automatic, the other is manual. The manual bar is the only thing in the car that isn't automatic." He said we could rent the limo for $65 an hour, complete with driver- security officer, minimum four hours. So it would cost us $260 just to go to dinner.
I don't understand the appeal of the stretch limo. Its proportions make it the ugliest vehicle on the road. Its opaque windows suggest that the privacy of its passengers is too sacrosanct for them to be seen by the generality. And it is conspicuously expensive.
We passed a display of neat cabinets that were flat against the wall. "Organize your garage," the sign invited.
If we bought cabinets to organize our garage, I realized, they would soon be full of the junk we already have in the garage, and more junk would soon be piled up against them, making them inaccessible.
We stopped at the Wine of the Month booth to talk with Paul Kalemkiarian, the cellar master. He said you enroll in the club and it sends you two select bottles of wine a month, for $15 plus tax and shipping charges.
"That's something we don't have," I said. I took an application form.
The more I think about it the more I think I should have bought my wife a computerized sewing machine. It might have opened up new vistas.
At least I should have bought her the trash bag of the '90s. You can't really say you're living a luxurious life style when you have to put the trash cans out every week.
The only thing I saw that might add to our prestige, besides the wine, was a bagel cutter. That's a real luxury.