The Cost of Loving


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?

A. Two.

("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.

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