Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Bag (pipe) Squeezing Price Of Fun

'I'll nae be payin' that!', said my little voice in a Scottish brogue thicker than rib rappelling porridge.

When it comes to issues of expense, my little voice always speaks like Angus MacTightwad and, quite frankly, this makes me happy. Very happy. My little voice is the voice of reason, it tells me when I'm about to do something stupid involving money. It always speaks in a bold, no frills, sans-serif Arial font. Very Scottish. Very Presbyterian.

What about me? That's what I do!

No, you're my sarcastic alter ego. You put me down and cause me to doubt myself in all things not involving money. You cause me to question my entire existence. You make me insecure. You make me apprehensive. You turn me into some limp, vaguely human form comprised of oatmeal innards with a cream of wheat personality. You also speak in an Italic font, indicative of the mental Mafioso.

Oh good! I like that. So tell me why the little voice is talking to you right now, or you'll get whacked?

I'm about to pay $75 U.S. to snowboard for one day at Sunday River (ME). I half expect to hand the money over to some balaclava wearing Robin Hoodie who insists on being paid in cash. I'll probably buy lunch at the resort's restaurant. Scones and tea: $14.95, no doubt. Jam for scones, $4.95. Butter? $2.95. Water: free (it's in the water closet).

Hey, what's the big deal? Your tax dollars pay a colo-rectal surgeon $250 an hour to stick a roto...well, never mind. So why whine about $75 for a day of glorious mountain snowboarding?

I think we all have a sense for the value of an activity. I don't like opera enough to fork over two hundred clams for a decent seat at the Met. Fortunately, Wendy gets me tickets for free (cue the bagpipes and watch Ian dance his happy, Scottish I-just-beat-the-system dance). I once sat in the General Director's private box. 'Garcon, une autre fraise-chocolat, s'il vous plait'.

Did you know that, in Scottish country dancing, protocol dictates that you have a new partner for every dance? Better yet, it's traditional for the lassies to ask the blokes. Finally, I might get to dance...if you could consider two splayed and bickering hooves, moving in opposite directions, to be dancing.

Getting back on track, let's talk about another Scottish past-time: golf. I like golf but I don't love it. I certainly don't $75 love it, thus I've never paid more than $30 for a round of golf. Even at $30, my sporran grumbled for a fortnight afterwards.

I once paid $30 for my son and I to bowl a few strings. I don't $30 love bowling. I don't $3 like bowling. I don't know how to make the 'cent' sign, but let's just say that I less-than-a-loony like bowling. When you have size 12 feet and you slap on a pair of tumor toed bowling shoes, it's hard to feel good about one's self.

I like snowboarding a lot, but I don't $75 like it, but that's what I'm going to pay for a day on the slopes at Sunday River. I don't begrudge the money grubbing, Escalade driving shareholders of the corporation that owns Sunday River, but there is a certain sadness in knowing that I'd have to sell my chesterfield (that's a couch, kids) and my meat locker in order to take my family skiing for a day.

Baseball is no different. It's like treating your wife and kids to a ball game at Yankee Stadium; if you walk out of there with any change from a six-hundred dollar bill, then you're doing well. Oh...what? The kids want a hot dog, better get out the Mastercard.

Life is expensive. And fun is getting ridiculously expensive. The day may come when I have to get a job so I can afford to have fun, but if I have a job, then there's not much time to have fun. It's the classic leisurologist trap. I suppose the secret to a happy existence is to find a job that is challenging, rewarding and fun. Or not have a job and snowboard somewhere other than Sunday River at 75 bucks a pop.

I have a year long pass at Poley Mountain in Sussex for $250. That puts thing in perspective. Sunday River, one day: $75 U.S.. Poley Mountain, one hundred days: $250. When I snowboard at Poley, I can hear the bagpipes echoing through the valley.

I'm not sure what will be going through my head when I snowboard at Sunday River, but I have an idea.


  1. This is your lucky week, go buy a lottery ticket and stop whining !


    January 19-22, 2010: Join us for Fifty Fest.

    * Lift tickets will be $50 at all ticket windows Tuesday through Friday.
    * The Foggy Goggle will have $.50 wings during apres Tuesday - Thursday.

    You're set !

  2. Ah oui ... bon appétit au Foggy Goggle.

  3. There's a book out there called The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less by Barry Schwartz. It has a chapter of two on the moral dilemma of trade-offs. ie: money for fun. Overall the book is really well researched and quite interesting. It's worth checking out, or perhaps your inner Scotsman would just like to borrow mine.