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This semester, I re-read Louisa May Alcott’s classic, beloved, time-tested, heartwarming, [insert further adjectives] novel Little Women.
I read with purpose; I had to know how much Meg had spent on silk, and the internet wouldn’t tell me. That’s right; I read an entire book instead of flipping to the pertinent chapter, singlehandedly taking procrastination to new heights.
But enough about me.
Do you remember the silk episode? Newly-married Meg is often bored while her husband works, so she goes shopping with her friend Sallie. Under Sallie’s affluent influence Meg buys (among other things) twenty-five yards of silk for a new dress…. … with money from the housekeeping budget. You know, the money John earns while Meg’s bored at home.
Here’s the question that kept me up at night:
How much did Meg pay for those 25 yards of silk?
That’s in 1869 dollars, mind you. According to this inflation calculator, “What cost $50 in 1869 would cost $799.28 in 2008. Also, if you were to buy exactly the same products in 2008 and 1869, they would cost you $50 and $3.25 respectively.”
For Meg’s sake, I sincerely hope those numbers are wrong. Either way, 140 years have passed, and I’ve never spent fifty clams on a dress. Besides, Meg didn’t buy a dress; she bought raw material;
“‘It isn’t made or trimmed’ Meg sighed faintly, for a sudden recollection of the cost still to be incurred quite overwhelmed her.”
Ooh. That’s a problem.
Worse still— during her attempt to defend the extravagant purchase, Meg utters those five little words no breadwinner wants to hear:
“I’m tired of being poor.
“She could have bitten her tongue out the minute she had said it, for John pushed the books away, and got up, saying, with a little quiver in his voice, ‘I was afraid of this; I do my best, Meg.'”
Damn, I love that book.
This story comes from the chapter called “Domestic Experiences”. If you too wish to elevate procrastination to an art form, swing by Google Books and read the whole thing. If Meg had, she could have avoided this whole incident.
- Don’t go shopping with your rich friends
- If someone is supporting you financially, try not to make them feel like dirt
- Boredom can lead to bad decisions