RHYS BOWEN: Luxury or Necessity?
Every five years I buy a new car. For the past twenty years that car has been a Camry-- good, solid, dependable family car. But this time, with the books flourishing, I thought I might treat myself to a little more luxury. So I started looking.....
I had always dreamed of a Porsche but my logical side says why pay for a car that can do 130 m.p.h when I get a ticket for anything over 65? And it really is rather small for that long journey between San Francisco and Phoenix.
And Lexus has exactly the same body as my Camry. And Mercedes gas mileage isn't great. And I don't like Audis very much-- so the question is what exactly does luxury mean for me?
A good looking sleek exterior, but then my Camry looks pretty elegant. Heated seats would be nice for winter, but my winters are in Arizona where they are not necessary. I don't need wood trim. I don't like leather seats--too hot in summer. But I would like a moon roof. And a built in GPS system. And blind spot warning would be nice and something that flashes if I stray out of my lane. And a car that parks itself? That would be great. So I'm going to keep looking. I may well end up with another Camry!
And this has started me thinking, dear Reds. What does the word LUXURY mean to you? Not just in cars but in life?
For me it's not designer clothes or expensive wines. Oysters and lobster any time, definitely. Being pampered with a massage occasionally although I died of boredom when I had a facial. I find as I get older I am less attracted by things. Time to myself is a great luxury. And I have to confess that traveling business class really is fabulous and worthwhile. And being able to visit far off and exotic places.
So how about you?
HALLIE EPHRON: A Camry IS luxury... said the woman who's driven a long line of Honda Civics into the ground. Reliability is what I care about in a car. Period.
I'm sure this will come as a surprise to no one, when it comes to luxury for me it's all about food. The occasional really good steak. Lobster of course. Fresh fish right off the boat. Ripe garden tomatoes. Real saffron and fresh herbs. A really swell bottle of champagne to wash it down.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: There have been trips when a flush toilet was a luxury for me.
When I was young I thought the Jaguar, British Racing Green of course, was the coolest car. Now I just want something I can throw all my toys in. My car is a 12 yr old Jeep Grand Cherokee. Pushing 150,000 miles.
Luxury is now mostly experiential. Less about the thing and more about the experience. Privacy is a huge luxury for me. I would rather have a tiny house on a plot of land with no neighbors than a MacMansion chock-a-block with the next guy. Not a jewelry person - I'm wearing a $6 ring from Urban Outfitters next to a Cartier. And I'm happy shopping at TJ Maxx.
I don't really have Food Envy either. I have framed the menu from Paul Bocuse but no desire to go back. And nice hotels are fine but I've really taken the kool-aid on house or apartment rentals. I don't really like all that bowing and scraping.
Lest I sound boringly high-minded or highly-evolved...last May we stayed at Villa San Michele in Fiesole. Their scraping was mighty fine. Luxury is the perfect thing at the perfect time. And just the way you want it.
And I confess when we travel, when I can afford to I stay in nicer hotels.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: My Honda Accord is five years old. I traded in my last Accord at five years, but think I'll be driving this one at least another couple. It has 40K on it, and is still great. It is an EX: leather seats (a must for me because of the dogs), seat warmers (which I ADORE), and a moon-roof. And I do like high-performance cars (I once had a Honda Prelude, which was fabulous,) but they just don't make any sense for my lifestyle.
Other luxuries? I don't care anything about expensive jewelry, or fancy-label clothes. Nice restaurants are an occasional treat, but most of the time I think I could make better at home. My idea of a fun evening out is a couples' date with my daughter and her fiance at Mi Cocina's. (Mambo limos!) Or dinner and a movie at iPic. I like nice hotels and room service when I'm traveling on book tour, but am happy with a Hampton Inn or Hilton Garden--middle of the road and just fine.
$10 a bottle Sauvignon Blanc is my wine of choice, although I dare say I'd enjoy better but it's not a priority.
I'd like to travel more, but when, between book tours, trips to England for research, and deadlines!
Most of our money that could be spent on "luxuries" goes into the old house!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: This is such an interesting question. It really is. What is luxury? Ah...I love to travel with extra legroom seating, love to get on the plane first and stash my carryon without battling for space.. i love to have a comfortable hotel room, and room service. (Part of it is--just wanting to have some time to myself. I love my profession, and the book tour--it's a dream! But sometimes, the luxury is quiet, and time.
I'm not big on jewelry, and fancy food is nice but not something I think about. I love to go to Costco--but buy rack of lamb. Does that make sense? I love nice t.owels, and bathrobes, and great shoes, and perfume. I have a lot of clothes--but I've been on TV for35 years. And RO, to quote Sue Grafton, I don't do rustic.
Our car! Oh, dear. it's a 12 year old Avalon, which we love which has, I think, 145,000 miles. We love it. I always look at BMWs on the road, but I don't need a BMW. I really don't care about cars. And, more than you ever needed to know, I have never had a massage or a facial. But I do use a Chanel compact and I insist it's the only one that works.
LUCY BURDETTE: I love good food, but it needn't be fancy or expensive. I like to read about tasting menus costing hundreds of dollars, but more for the theater of it and the personality of the chefs than all that frou-frou food.
Cars I don't care much about either. But like Debs, I'm crazy for seat-warmers--on days when your back hurts a little--heaven!
And the times we've upgraded to business class with miles have been very very very pleasant. Seats and baggage space are so tight on planes these days--I find the whole business quite stressful and not at all civilized. Some years ago we were taking my elderly father and stepmother to England for a last hurrah. I worried ahead for months and months about getting us upgrades for the trip overnight to London. When we got to JFK (a horrible airport!), I sent my wonderful hub up to the counter to check our status. He came back after a while and reported that we'd been offered the upgrades to business class but he turned them down.
"They were going to charge us an extra $75!"
You can imagine how fast I sent him back over...and how much we all four enjoyed those reclining seats with foot rests and the little packet containing slippers and an eye mask and a toothbrush. Ahhhh, heaven...
RHYS: I'm amazed that so many Jungle Reds seem to drive 12 year old cars. I like to have a car within warranty when I drive those 800 desert miles between SF and Phoenix. So I think our combined confessions seem to indicate that luxury is not brand or style, it's comfort and good food and time. Amen to that.
How about you dear readers? What is your idea of luxury?