Saturday, May 4, 2019
Luxury is a scam, right? A trick to see how much more rich people will pay for something that's only a little better than the usual. I've driven a Bentley: nice car. Double-glass windows. Breitling clock. But a price tag of about $180,000. If money means nothing, and you want those windows, and that clock, I suppose you might as well pop for it. What's the difference? But the truth is, a person who can get by with regular windows, and an ordinary digital clock, can drive a perfectly good car and pocket the extra $150,000.
When I first visited Ancient Aire, the faux Roman baths opened late 2017 in an old factory on West Superior, I was impressed. Big, dim, quiet and, since I was in the media, free. Free is a sauce, a spice, that enhances any experience. I was also by myself, and as I soaked and cogitated, I thought, "I should really take my wife back to this." So I did, last Valentine's Day. Our friends were jetting off here and there, I had this big trip to South America coming up, and rather than fly somewhere nice, we thought we'd explore our home town—a "staycation" Edie calls it.
Ninety minutes of burbling hot pools and aromatic steam rooms. Plus a half hour massage. Not hideously expensive—$276 for the two of us, plus tips. We couldn't both fly to Cleveland for that. Overall, a positive experience. Indulgent fun. I paid the tab. We were almost out the door.
But stapled to our receipt, was this little card. Selling an Ancient Aire candle in a box. For $54.
That card irked me. It's as if they were saying, "Before you go, we're curious: just how gullible ARE you? After all, you came here, paid a lot of money for, in essence, the hot bath you can take at home. Maybe you'll shell out half a C-note for a votive candle in a black box."
There's no way to tell scale. Maybe the box is a yard square, but I doubt it. I would expect it to be, oh, three inches on a side . And maybe it smells nice. But really, it would have to release the perfume of paradise to justify that cost. (Checking online: bingo for the size, about 3 inches. And it smells of orange blossoms).
It is limited, if that helps. That's what the fine print says, "Limited to 250 pcs. of bathrobes and 250 pcs. of candles." That wasn't written by a native English speaker, was it? "250 pcs. of candles." You'd think, for $54, they'd perfect the translation in their ballyhoo.)
I shudder to imagine what the robes cost. ($65, not bad really, though that also underlines the scam aspect of luxury, as if the prices were assigned randomly and not dependent upon market forces).
So the candles are limited, but it doesn't say limited by what. The dreams of avarice, I assume.