Extravagance: Festivals, Food and Phones

Woodbridge, New Jersey

Overheard at the Verizon Wireless store.

Girl: Mom, mom, I want a Samsung Reality.

Mom: You want a cellphone? I want a Lexus. Now you go. You’re seven-years-old why do you need a cellphone? Who are you going to call? Name five people, that you’re going to call.

Girl: You….

Mom: You don’t need a cellphone to call me. I’m always there.

This is the last stop of this time out of the truck – our cellphone contract has expired, now that we have an iPad we don’t need to pay for a data plan on our Blackberry and my phone has simply pooped out, won’t hold a charge, internal antenna won’t hold a signal – before we head back on the road for five weeks.

We’ve been to Montreal, Canada to attend Greg’s Extravagant Festival – Formula One.

A few months ago I was reading an article about money in developing nations. Aid groups have discovered that the best way to get money into the economy and producing positive effects is to get the money into womens’ hands.

Men, the article said, spend a third of the money they receive on “cigarettes, alcohol, gambling, prostitution and extravagant festivals” before any money finds its way to the family.

“I don’t do any of those things,” Greg said sipping his Sumatra coffee from the Pilot truck stop while driving down one Interstate or another. “All the money goes into YOUR pockets.”

Well, not quite. He doesn’t smoke and I quit 20 years ago. Now that we’re truck drivers beer and wine is drunk during Time at Home and I gave up drinking a few months ago when one glass of wine started to make me feel like hell for days. His gambling is reserved to two Mega Millions tickets a week, mine is a Quickpick when the mood strikes me. His $104 a year, is still $104 a year up in smoke. (He says if I don’t stop bugging him about it, when he wins, he won’t give me any of the money.) If he wants to cheat, he’s going to have to bring her along in the sleeper. I only have eyes for racecar driver, Aussie Mark Webber and Greg introduced us! Which bring us to…..

Me: You have an extravagant festival.

Him: No I don’t. What?

Me: Formula One is not extravagant enough. I think that’s probably the most extravagant festival there is, Ferraris, fast women, champagne.

Him (laughing): I guess it is.

Formula One is the celebration of racecars, racy celebs and racy wannabes.

There we were in Montreal where every third person, visiting from Europe, the U.K., Australia and America is wearing Ferrari red and yellow. Greg toyed with buying a Ferrari horse pin so he could put it discreetly on the tractor! He didn’t.

Three straight days, he and his brother were at the track, scoping out the best parts of the General Admission area for the best view, the best place to smell the fuel, and the best place to hear the whine of the engines. They found one place with a view of the track so close that he could see the red hot brakes on the cars as they flew past him. Montreal is known as a track with fantastic straight-aways ending in screeching braking manoeuvres. Brakes are the most important component in this race. My guy Mark Webber is the lead driver for Red Bull, having a fantastic season, but the worst brakes in the bunch.

Me, I went to Le Carrefour, the mall in Laval, Quebec and discovered why I love this country. Size 6. I’m a size 6 according to the size arbiters at RW & Co. I bought a pair of black ankle pants, a la Audrey Hepburn. The young lady tried to sell me on the size 6. It was nice that they fit, but at 52, I felt it was a little on the skin side, so I went with the Size 8. Feeling very slim indeed, I wandered down to the Food Court, the Quartier Gourmet for some, yes, ice cream, can’t waste a thin moment.

The Quartier Gourmet is like no other Food Court I’ve ever seen, short on chain fast food, only Subway and A & W, the other stalls were miniature restaurants making fresh salads while waiting, seafood, real burgers, Indian food, Chinese, Japanese, Thai. It all looked incredibly fresh.

My second surprise came once I selected my salads, which were plated on real plates. Real plates, like the plates in a restaurant, real cutlery, real metal cutlery and when I asked for a glass of water it came in a GLASS, a glass glass, not a pretend glass, glass that would break if I dropped it. The trays  had handles. It was civilized. Eating on styro plates and plastic cutlery isn’t really eating.

The atmosphere is an upscale cafeteria, bright, lots of light, open, nice tables, comfortable molded chairs. If they hadn’t closed at 5:00 PM, I would have gone back for dinner.

Out of Montreal and into New York to take care of some left over business from our move last month and a little culture.

We took in the Joan Rivers documentary. I’ve never paid much attention to Ms. Rivers, don’t really know much about her or her comedy, I know she subbed for Johnny Carson, I know her husband committed suicide, I know she sells jewelry on QVC, the TV shopping channel and I know she’s past 70 – all this from the osmosis we call life.

I walked out of the movie admiring the woman. It’s an excellent documentary. She may be a don’t-try-this-on-your-own plastic surgery case, but she’s a trooper and a hardworker and still on top of her game. I recommend it.

The final verdict on the cellphone? I selected the Samsung Knack after one short swing by the sample wall. Despite Greg’s attempts to upsell me to a more technology-filled phone, I held my ground. Big numbers, big letters, it’s a phone. It doesn’t make cookies, it doesn’t do the laundry, it doesn’t take photos. It simply makes and takes calls.

He left me sitting in the truck and returned to the store to do the phone switch over. I can’t bear to watch it’s always such a pain in the butt, details. I always feel like Verizon is trying to squeeze my last born – if I had one! His phone is a Samsung “rugged”, heavy edges to resist drops and dings and lots of bells and whistles – bien sur!

Greg to the sales associate: My wife wants the Samsung Knack.

Sales Associate, lowering her voice: But it has no features. It’s the one with the BIG fonts. That’s the Senior Citizen’s phone!

One thought on “Extravagance: Festivals, Food and Phones

  1. I loved this post! I went to check out Mark Webber – very cute.Great Stories. I loved the cell phone conversation with the 7yr old. I also saw Piece of Work, back to back with Sex and the City, and Joan really kicked Carrie ass! Loved it! Interesting comments re African family budget and spending. I just picked up Dambisa Moyo’s Dead Aid, which argues all aid is bad for Africa because it kills local commerce. She advocates direct foreign investment and supporting exports among other things which were key to Chinas economic miracle rather than blank checks to governments. Keep up the good work!


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