Angelina County, Texas. Abuddy of mine who is going through his second bachelorhood recently went to Dallas with a lady friend for the weekend. It is from his first-hand experience that I've been able to glean a wealth of scientific data on the high cost of loving. Remember, you read it here first -- just in time for Valentine's.
Q. How much did you pay for the hotel room?
A. Well, off-hand I don't remember exactly. Probably more than I ever thought it'd be.
Q. One hundred dollars a night?
A. Uh, closer to $175.
Q. For how many nights?
("Punchy, punchy, punchy." That's the sound my pocket calculator makes as I punch in the numbers.)
Q. How much for food?
A. Two hundred dollars, about.
Q. Including drinks?
A. Maybe another $200 for drinks.
Q. And how much did --
A. Not counting the champagne.
Q. The champagne?
A. The $75 champagne we ordered through room service.
Q. Oh, that champagne. What else from room service?
A. Let's see. Strawberries with powdered sugar. Cheese. Grapes.
Q. How much?
A. Oh, a lot of grapes. We ended up throwing them at one another.
Q. No, I mean how much did it . . . You threw grapes at one another?
A. Well, like I said, we had a lot of grapes.
Q. How much did room service cost?
A. Ehhh, call it $100.
Q. We have food, shelter and drink. What else?
A. Clothing, of course.
Q. Of course. Such as?
A. I bought her a hat at Neiman-Marcus.
Q. How much of a hat?
A. It was a nice hat. It came in its own box. One hundred fifty dollars, give or take a few bucks.
Q. Give and take, indeed.
A. I guess you want to know about the belt?
Q. What belt?
A. Maybe it was a necklace. I never was sure. It all happened so quickly.
Q. What possessed you even to go into Neiman-Marcus?
A. I think she did. Anyway, the belt or the necklace was another $50.
Q. How about hotel parking?
A. Well, more than I expected. Including tips, about $25.
Q. Mileage? About 300 miles roundtrip, 20 cents a mile?
A. Fifty, 60 bucks, yeah.
Q. All right. Let's go to the tote board.
(Punchy, punchy, punchy.)
Q. OK, $1,200. Now, all we have to do is factor in the fun factor.
A. The fun factor . . . ? Oh, yeah. The FUN factor.
Q. Which was?
A. Say six.
Q. Say $200 per fun. Being a bachelor, heh-heh, gets kinda expensive, doesn't it?
A. Oh, I don't know. Let's look at it another way.
Q. For instance?
A. For instance, how much is your monthly mortgage payment?
Q. Uh, gee. Off-hand I don't exactly recall.
A. Never mind. We'll back in the figures. Let's begin with the fun factor.
Q. Well . . . Less than I ever thought it'd be.
Joe Murray, editor-publisher emeritus of the Lufkin (Texas) Daily News, is senior writer for Cox Newspapers.