Here’s a lovely little article by Mark Oppenheimer about the allure of dandyism for frumpy 30-something dads. The bulk of it is a review of Glenn O’Brien’s How To Be A Man, but I think this paragraph from the beginning is a pretty amazing encapsulation of the hopelessness of modern middle-class living:
If parenthood meant I could no longer afford the things I badly wanted, that would be regrettable, but not exactly complicated. My problem is rather different: I actually have very simple pleasures, and I can still afford all of them. Whereas some people enjoy backpacking in Thailand, leased BMWs, and triple-mint real estate, I like skim mochas at the local coffee shop in the winter, Starbucks Frappuccinos in the summer, ice cream at the local parlor year-round, a few new books a year, and midprice new clothes bought at T.J. Maxx or at chain stores you can find in the average upscale mall. I have enough money that I could buy everything I want. But I now have children, and no money saved for, say, college-tuition payments. And yet even if I forewent every frappuccino and pair of corduroys for the next 20 years, I fear I would not save enough money for one year of college for one daughter. So while in one sense every frappuccino is money wasted, in another sense every penny saved is for naught.