Psychological warfare: reason vs. ‘want’


A friend has a dilemma, a definitive First World dilemma, one that I had seen before.
Have you ever wanted something, perhaps for decades, and there was really no valid reason that you wanted it except that you did?
Here are a couple of tales about that.
Back in the late 1980s, I once worked with a guy whose material goal in life was to buy a mustard-colored Mercedes Benz.
He had always wanted one: It looked cool, was a status symbol, was of high craftsmanship, and, he reasoned I’m sure, it was an investment.
Back then, a Mercedes was a big deal. Heads turned and the common man was impressed.
Sure enough, one day my friend drove up in his mustard-colored Mercedes Benz.
It was a visible, tangible fulfillment of a goal. He set his sights on something and worked until he got it. Chase that dream!
(That’s motiviatonal speak [oh, sorry, “encouager” speak] 101. And it works: write it down, make a plan, execute the steps, achieve the goal. I often stagger early because I can’t find a pen to begin step one.)
The second tale of a friend with a dilemma: She has always wanted a Louis Vuitton purse.
In her case, money is no object whatsoever. Still, she was struggling with justifying dropping thousands of dollars – yes, thousands – on a purse.
She was at a Dillard’s one day when she casually mentioned to a counter person that she had always wanted a Louis Vuitton.
The clerk, with eyes shifting each direction, leaned forward and whispered, “Come with me.”
She led my friend down into the bowels of the store and through a locked, secure area.
There, in a compartment that would thwart any Mission: Impossible crew, were some Louis Vuitton purses.
Men always are stymied as to why purses cost so dang much and even rich guys like my friend’s husband still have financial concerns, too.
My friend decided to buy one of the locked-down purses; her husband does not yet know – in part because she said was almost embarrased by her purchase.
(I have no idea what sort of purses the Bride totes; I’m pretty sure they aren’t Louis Vuittons, however.)
When we pull the trigger on “frivolous” purchases, all our minds run through the there’s-so-much-misery-in-the-world-and-this-money-could-help-so-much-rather-than-me-buying-this-blank – and this blank was a purse!
I thought about these two instances when, coincidently at a Dillard’s (clearance center), the Bride said, “Look at this.”
She showed me a generic-looking casual shirt that had a price tag of $97.50…and that was marked down from $195.
I suppose an argument can be made that paying $195 (or $97.50) for a shirt means you’re getting quality for a garment that you can keep for years. (That’s the “investment jeans” concept.)
This shirt was an Armani. My first thought was that it wasn’t that great of a shirt. But someone will like it and be delirously happy to get an Armani shirt for less than $100.
That got me to thinking: What is something I absolutely don’t need but covet?
The answer came quickly. I have always wanted an inground swimming pool. (The other option was a convertible vehicle which always looked so cool on TV back in the day.)
I don’t need a pool, and I wouldn’t use it for exercising.
I’d be cool, though – almost as cool as a Louis Vuitton purse or Armani shirt.

Mark K. Campbell is the Epigraph editor and just bought a 15-foot inflatable pool that feels mighty good every afternoon in this superheated May.