Me and my friend/absent collaborator Andrew Brown often meet up on weekdays to get lunch. Usually, we go to a pleasant Chinese café on Church St, where the lunch special is a whopping $5.75. The lunches are often impromptu, based of text messages sent at 11 amto see if we’d each like to break out of the monotony of our given workdays and take an hour to gripe about all things everywhere always. Today, however, with San Francisco’s Indian summer in full effect and the temperature hovering in the low seventies minus wind-chill, we decided that in this sweltering heat wave, a meal that a a little colder/less heavy was in order. So, we met up at the sushi place in the Metreon, with the charming patio overlooking Yerba Buena Park. It was such delightful setting that somehow we chocked up a bill of 70$ in 45 minutes without even thinking about it. Like idiots.
The meal was fine, but it wasn’t anything special. At no point was I either tempted to take a picture of an immaculately plated, superbly original dish nor did I shove a piece of sushi in Andrew’s face, like, YOU HAVE TO TRY THIS IT’S SO FUCKING GOOD OH MY GOD. So, in a moment of after-the-fact self-reflection, I thought I’d take a moment to consider a few possible reasons why I spent what is an empirically unreasonable amount on an unremarkable lunch.
1. I’m fucking rich. See, if I were making going-to-get-my-taxes-raised-if-Obama-gets-reelected kinds of money, then spending this much on lunch wouldn’t be crazy at all. In fact, spending $35 for sushi probably wouldn’t be enough, as it would be my civic responsibility to spend as much as possible on everything to boost the economy/create jobs/inspire poor people to work harder.
But I actually just checked my online banking account. Turns out I’m not rich at all. In fact, this past year has been especially shitty for me from an income standpoint. So this probably isn’t the reason at all. Sucks.
2. American overconsumption has spoiled me. I like this possible reasoning because it implies there’s nothing wrong with me, there’s just something wrong with America/the culture that raised me. You seee, I, like most of the country, have been conditioned to always want more, to supersize the soda, to need 15 servings of popcorn at the movie, to add bacon and cheese and grilled onions and a fried egg and avocado to the burgeer, and to put it all on the credit card.
As we were ordering, we did just keep on adding more. I should have been completely satisfied with the $14 tenzaru/tempura combo plate. That alone is a little much to spend on food for a casual lunch, but isn’t insane. Instead, we kept on adding dishes. A seaweed salad to start. And some gyoza, because what the fuck, it’s Tuesday. And an order of spicy tuna roll, because it’s a sushi restaurant, you have to have some kind of roll.
It feels to me like there is something uniquely American about ordering like this so, it does seems like this is a defendable argument, though we can probably all agree that it’s also a total cop-out.
3. Living in San Francisco has spoiled me. This explanation is two-fold. First of all, living these past five years of my twenties in SF has turned me into a oppressively obnoxious food snob. Before I moved here, I was happy eating McDonalds for lunch and having greasy tacos from grimey foodcarts for dinner. Nowadays, I only eat McDonalds at airports to annoy my girlfriend and grimey Mexican if I’m trying to prove to someone how authentic I am (I know, I’m terrible). But the point I’m making is that I like better food now, and have higher standards than I used to. That’s why the foodcourt at the mall is out and the upscale sit-down restaurant at the mall is in.
Moreover, the booming economy has habituated SF locals to expect extravagant lunches. When I go visit my girlfriend for lunch at her job at Twitter, the meals are catered, and offer so many choices, that many people get anxious about how to decide between the grass-fed hanger steaks or the soft-shell-crab-covered neoplitan pizzas, so they wind up getting it all. And maybe, for those of us who don’t work at well-funded startup, through some sort of metropolitan-area-cultural osmosis, we still want to eat like we do.
4. Um, I don’t have kids, which means I have a fair amount of disposable income. Lets be honest, this isn’t the first time I’ve spent more money than I should for no good reason. I just don’t feel like I have any compelling reason to save money, because I just have to take anyone else into consideration. It’s just me, which is great.
I think about thisa lot when I’m spending money on something frivolous, say a new big Jambox when I already have a normal Jambox or when I go on a gratuitous weekend visit to see an old friend and drink our faces off. When I’m hung over on the airport shuttle on my way home, I’ll say to myself, “Man, if I had kids, I wouldn’t have done this.”
I know it’s a cliché thing to say, but let’s all give thanks for the existence of birth control one more time.
5. Hubris. My favorite comedian, Kyle Kinane, has an awesome bit about how he just realized he might be an asshole (streaming link, scrub to 5:00 for the bit). Well, when you say to your friend, “Hey you know what we should do? Drop $70$on lunch!”, you’re probably an asshole.
6. Probable alcoholism. Did I mention we both had some beers during the lunch? That definitely added to the total check. Not exactly what responsible young professionals are supposed do during the workday. Granted, Brown had to actually go back to his office and be around colleagues. All I had to do was go back to my computer and answer emails/google myself/maybe do some writing. But either way, this isn’t the 60s - we’re not supposed to smoke like we think it’s healthy, be overtly mean to minorities or drink before 5pm on a Tuesday.
7. I’m just really, really shitty with money. I feel like when I was hovering around the poverty line, I was much more responsible. I always new how much money was coming in, how much was going out and to only use the credit card when I needed to get my car fixed or pay a super important bill. I even gave myself a set amount to spend on the month and never let myself go over. Now that I make marginally more money, I have no idea where money goes. If I want something, I just get it, and worry about it later, be it a pair of sunglasses on zappos, a graphic novel on my iphone, a plane ticket to wherever or an overpriced, unnecessary meal.
Looking back at this list, I’m gonna guess that it’s a mix of reasons 5-7 and a little of number 2. Either way, hopefully laying out my complete absence of financial canniness will shame me into being more responsible in the future.
But let’s be honest. Once an asshole, always an asshole.
 I know that term is racist, but I don’t know what else to call it. It’s what everybody calls it. “First Nation’s Summer” – that just sounds stupid.
 You guys understand the concept of irony, right?
 <$250k in annual salary
Henry Goldman is founder of YR AN ADULT. He’s going to try to at least be less of an asshole about getting posts up on a regular basis.