Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Guilty As Charged

Sean and I are soon indulging in a sinfully decadent trip to Paris. All of our trips tend to be on the more sumptuous end of the scale, and I don't usually find myself apologizing for it. We've been to the best restaurants in New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Chicago, glutted ourselves like fools, paid with plastic having barely cracked open the billfold. But one place we're planning to visit in Paris has me sweating. Truth be told, it will cost us as much as our plane tickets did, maybe more. And I don't really balk at the price. We've done tasting menus all over the world now (2 very good ones locally - Atelier, and Le Baccarat), and they don't come cheaply, but the ingredients and service and the EXPERIENCE make it feel worthwhile.

It's not the dollars that concern me (or the Euros, in this case). It's the concept. It's the thought that a decade ago, that money, money for just one meal, would have seemed like a literal godsend to me. At a time in my life when I worked two jobs and still struggled to make rent, this one meal would have kept me housed for 3 months or more. It's more than I earned in one (two week) pay cheque for a long, long time.

And I don't know why it's this meal that's making me feel so wretched. We'll probably be at the restaurant for a good four hours, and we'll remember it for the rest of our lives. I've spent as much or more on excellent basketball tickets and didn't think twice. But maybe that's the difference - although I accompany Sean to see Lebron & Durant, the tickets are obviously for his enjoyment. But the restaurant? That's for me. We're both going to fill our bellies with caviar and champagne and black truffles. I'm going to look at that bread cart, with over a dozen selections waiting to be paired with just as many courses, and I'm not going to feel the guilt that I feel today. I'm going to feel joyful. I'm going to be happy and hungry and I'm going to heap it all on my plate in embarrassing amounts. And I'll do this knowing, in the back of my head, that some people, many people, don't have even a scrap at that exact moment, while I have so much.

Inequality is a strange and sickening thing and I wonder sometimes, worry really, what kind of person I am, morally, to take such part in it. Particularly since I've been on the bottom (realizing that the bottom for a Canadian is still a relatively cozy place). Fuck. I don't know if I've just talked myself out of this treat. Maybe I should. I don't know where the line exists. I don't always know how to enjoy something I feel I've earned while also feeling that many others work just as hard to earn far less.



kenju said...

I think you deserve that treat and I wish I could join you.

Jude said...

Yes you deserve to indulge in this treat. If it makes you feel less guilty, pay it forward when you're back home with either dollars or your time helping out a good cause like the homeless, or a food hamper for a needy family?

And when you go to Paris, ENJOY. :)

Vest said...

Your intention to gorge on the disgustingly extravagant meal at a top restaurant in Paris, leaves me wondering would you not get more joy feeding a rew hundred less fortunate souls on the cost of your two small loaves and a dish of rotten fish roes served up in a overpriced ghoulish frog takeaway.
Repassez-moi le menue,s'il vous pla^it

Jay said...

Actually, I enjoyed myself quite heartily! We dined out well every night but managed to make our way to 3 michelin-starred restaurants. Crazy but deliciously memorable.

Maven said...

I think once you've been on the balls of your ass broke, when you do have "disposable income" and are able to enjoy Paris or any other dream location, you cannot help but be aware of the entire package of the inequality that abounds. But life is meant to be lived and enjoyed, we're here for such a short period of time. I do hope that your foray to Paris was lovely. It is without a doubt one of my favorite places to be.

I could very well have died in 2012 and I would have been fine with that. 2012 saw fit to let my feet touch four continents. On moments such as this, I think back to how devastating my divorce was, how I was bankrupted emotionally and financially, and stealing day old bagels & rolls of TP from work because after struggling to pay what bills I could, I would be left with $20, which I would end up putting in my tank so I could keep driving to/from work.