DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a dear friend with whom I enjoy socializing at luncheons and dinners, and we sometimes travel together. She is blessed with a handsome income, and enjoys shopping.
I spent 20-plus years as a single mother, with a decent income but rarely money to burn. My child is now on his own with a good career. I continue to be frugal, but never “cheap.”
My friend insists I join her in shopping at high-end stores where I feel extremely uncomfortable. She has the means and desire to buy $5,000 purses (she has several) and $700 shoes, but even though I’ve enjoyed a healthy six-figure income the last several years, I still see no sense in spending that kind of money on a functional item.
So while she shops to impress, I sit with my $29.99 sale purse and $80 shoes, feeling like the proverbial fish out of water. I feel very embarrassed. If I opt out of any store, she is visibly upset.
How do I politely tell her I am not interested in what the new “It” spring bag looks like? (I frankly think they’re ugly, and really don’t get why anyone would spend $3,500 on a bag made of coated fabric and not leather.)
This issue has escalated. Whereas she used to enjoy a bargain as I did, now she only wants to steer us into the stores of the rich and famous. And yes, I do think she’s showing off, but her actions are only making me sour on the friendship.
GENTLE READER: As possibly the only columnist who doesn’t pass the buck by telling everyone to see a good therapist, Miss Manners is nevertheless curious. Why do you feel embarrassed? Why are you uncomfortable in fancy stores that usually have soft chairs?
And most of all, why can’t you say, “I’d be delighted to have lunch with you, but I’ll skip the shopping. You and I have different tastes”?
At any rate, that is what you must say. If anyone should feel embarrassed, it should be the person who exposes her indulgence in overpriced goods.