Cruisin’ Alaska… Bringing Coals to Newcastle.

There’s a phenomena that appears to be familiar the world over, where women do their shopping and either fail to tell their spouses about their new acquisitions or they may down play the actual cost of their recent shopping finds. Ladies, you know exactly what I am talking about. Well actually, this phenomena is not limited just to women. Yeah sure, women might comment to their husbands about a fabulous new dress is ‘Oh what? No, this old thing? I’ve had it for years’ or ‘Yes, these are new shoes, but they were having a 50% off stocktake sale and’, blah blah blah, excuses galore for having splashed out on something nice for themselves… From what I’ve seen – plenty of men do it too! That circular saw? Had it for years. This expensive imported wool/silk scarf (you know I’m talking about you, MrC), well that was on sale of course. And that new target pistol you bought, well it was only *cough* $800… yeah, $800 more than what I’m willing to tell you it cost. Old habits die hard. We seem to think spending money on our own hobbies, our own little personal proclivities (whether it is your shoe collection, your gun collection or your nail polish collection!) is completely frivolous and unnecessary so we lie to our spouses about what we buy and how much we spend.

They’re only little white lies but we do it nonetheless probably because deep down somewhere we think we don’t deserve nice things. And I think I have figured out where it comes from. When we are kids, we first start getting money to spend at our own discretion from our parents, usually in the form of pocket money. And those same parents are charged with the responsibility of trying to teach us to spend our money wisely… be thrifty… make good retail decisions. Or we get our first jobs and feel rich! Rich! Rich, I tell you! I remember when I got my first full time job and was being paid the grand sum of $422 per fortnight in the hand – and it felt like a small fortune, especially given I was previously working only a few hours a week at a newsagent in a part time job paying about $60 a week. Naturally, when that fortnightly pay check starts rolling in, Mum and Dad start telling you how you should be spending it… save Amount A, put Amount B away for your bills (What bills? I’m 16! We didn’t have mobile phones back then and I didn’t have a car loan or anything), leaving you with Amount C for weekly spending money. When you’re a teenager – budget equals BORING! But anytime I bought anything, whether it was a new top to wear to work or a pair of Doc Marten boots to wear on the weekends, I would come home to a disapproving look from my Mum and a ‘How

much did that cost?’ Sigh… Well, of course I fucking lied more than half the time. ‘Yep Mum, those Doc Martens were only $60 and they’ll last me for years.’ – everyone knows Docs are twice that price, at least. ‘No Mum, this isn’t a new blouse, I picked it up after last years winter sales.’ and so on and so forth. And it becomes a habit to feel like you shouldn’t spend money on yourself and we most certainly fess up to how much money we spend on ourselves. Anyway, I’ve travelling at the moment with my Mum and finding myself browsing around the galleries and gift shops and being extremely restrained in the shopping department. Which has been really hard up here in Alaska with their $400 per carat tanzanites and their stupidly cheap and fine qualities wholesale diamonds. Sheesh! I haven’t even wanted to splash out on souvenir t-shirts to take home for that old niggardly expectation that Mum will be looking on at any shopping I might do with disapprobation. Stupid huh? But then you wouldn’t believe what happened… we get to Skagway, our last shore stop in Alaska and we walk into a Starbucks to buy a hot chocolate. Must be the weirdest Starbucks on the planet, because while I have seen plenty of coffee shop/bookshop combos, I have never seen a coffee shop/fine jewellery shop combos.

So while we are having our hot chocolates, we are also browsing counters upon counter of alexandrite, tanzanite, ammolite, emeralds, rubies, rainbow sapphires, and diamonds, diamonds and more diamonds! Weird huh? ‘Would you like a caramel latte whip with your 4ct cushion cut ruby?’ 😛 Well, Mum finds a ring she likes the look of, it’s rose gold and has .7ct of 30 invisible set chocolate coloured diamonds. We get to chatting with the sales dude, he gives her an unbelievably good first price and Mum starts to try on the ring. I immediately jump in with a ‘that’s way too expensive’ and the price immediately drops about $700 without blinking (did I mention how cheap the diamonds are up here??!).

Anyway, she umms and ahhs a bit, and I try hard to stay out of it as she keeps asking me what I think about it. I deliberately didn’t tell her to buy it, but did point out that we
won’t be coming back, that’s it was quite an unusual style, and that it seemed to be for a good price (well, it would be when I finished with him), but, if she liked it, and wanted to buy it, she was going to have to make up her own mind. Anyway, I never in a million years would have though my mum, who used to ride me about buying new WORK clothes, would buy herself a diamond ring while on holidays… but she did! And here was me (in the back of my head somewhere) perpetually concerned about her disapproval for spending a couple of hundred dollars on stuff for the boys at home. Not only did she buy herself a diamond ring, but she bought herself a fancy new tax free watch too! Even though there is nothing wrong with the watch she already has – yeah, once upon a time, she would have said that to me if I wanted a new watch, ‘You already have a good watch, what do you need another one for?’

Anyway, trust Mum to splash out and hit the shopping hard on our last in-port day in Alaska… once I was already safely past all the wholesale jewellers in the previous ports! Well, that’s it. I am now officially, off the leash! I will risk her disapproval and point to the diamond ring on her finger and say, ‘I’m buying whatever the hell I can fit in that there damn suitcase!’ 😀 Oh, and the absolute best bit about Mum’s highly unusual and out of character diamond ring purchase… the diamonds were mined in the Kimberley, at the Argyll diamond mine in northern Western Australia! Come all the way to Alaska, folks, and buy some Australian diamonds, that’s how it’s done! 😛


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