It was a contest sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue. The challenge was to write a 50-word essay that used the words from their ad campaign, "Live a Little". (Who loves a contest? A stay-at-home mom desperate for mental stimulation!) One afternoon, presiding over the four boys in the kiddie pool, I wrote a little ditty and sent it in.
Here it is:
Our first date. I'm late. He laughs.
Naturally we get married. I'm late again. He kisses me.
We have kids, all boys, always late. He smiles, says, "Time for a watch."
"No", I say, "an extra fridge for these hungry lads."
"Live a little", he says, "before it's too late."
Six months later, I got a call informing me that I had won a Cartier watch. I stalked the mailbox. When the package arrived, I ripped it open only to say, "ugh." I didn't like the leather band. The face looked out of style. The strap was a strange color of blue. I was so disappointed.
It sat in its box for a month. My husband urged me to call Saks and ask if I could exchange it. "Of course Madame. Please accept this gift card for $1500."
Whoa. I had never experienced such largesse. My husband encouraged me to 'live a little' and splurge on something I'd always wanted.
The status handbag of the moment was a sleek black nylon Prada shoulder bag. I tried it on. Lovely. Perfect. But $1500 for nylon? With four boys at home? I just couldn't do it.
In the end, I bought pj's for the kids, a couple of nice shirts and ties for the husband, and a nice jacket for myself. Saks graciously issued me a check for the remaining balance.
A week later, my husband and I attended a charity event. We drank too much and somehow he bid on an aluminum Grumman canoe. For almost exactly the amount of my Saks check.
And this has been the pattern of my life. I've learned to let go of the Pradas in the world and embrace my aluminum canoe. For this reason, I have lived more than a little.