The price of beauty.

A remarkable story in yesterday NYT asked a question I’d never even considered:

What’s your beauty budget?

Hmm. Well, OK, let’s see if we can tote it up: Haircut/color every six weeks, roughly $100 including tip. Eyebrow wax when I’m feeling sorry for myself, ahem bathing-suit area maintenance ahem in summer. Say, $200 a year. “Product” when I run short of it — shampoo, sunscreen, soap, drugstore-line makeup. A wildly inflated guess on that would be $200 a year. Add it all up, and I’d say between $1,000 and $1,200 a year, and I feel damn guilty about that hair color, but hey, I’m in the Gray Zone, and I’m not giving up this early.

Still, I’m practically a hairy-legged hippie compared to Ginger Grace, 40, a real-estate agent in Beverly Hills. Her scorecard:

Every other day: hair blown out, 45 minutes, $65. Twice a week: personal trainer, one hour, $80. Twice a week: eyebrow waxing, five minutes, $30. Twice a week: thigh treatment, 45 minutes, $125. Weekly: hiking with trainer, two hours, $150. Weekly: Zone Diet food delivery, $250. Twice a month: pedicure (with manicure), one hour, $40. Twice a month: facial, one hour, $160. Twice a month: massage, one hour, $125. Several times a month: makeup and eyelash application, $145. Monthly: photo facial, 15 minutes, $500. Every six weeks: hair color, two hours, $450. Every three months: hair cut, 45 minutes, $140. Twice a year: Botox and Restylane, one hour, $1,000.

The “thigh treatment” is some sort of “electrical-current thing,” she says, and adds that she considers herself a hairy-legged hippie, at least by local standards: “I am probably the only person in Los Angeles who doesn’t see a chiropractor, an acupuncturist or a nutritionist, but it’s so youth-driven here that maybe I should.”

Good lord. I’m sure a Beverly Hills Realtor makes a pile of dough, but that adds up to $12,000 a year. You see where we got the term “high-maintenance.” She gets her eyebrows waxed twice a week? Someone needs to learn how to work a pair of tweezers. And those prices! Four hundred fifty bucks for hair color? A haircut for $140? A hiking coach? As someone who’s hiked many miles, maybe I can save Ms. Grace some money. Psst: Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Thank you. We’ll be passing the hat later.

I guess the upside is, Ms. Grace is a fetching gal with tingly thighs. Still. I’d rather tour Asia with the 12 grand. I could stay long enough to grow an inch of gray roots.

I suppose I should spend some time thinking about the Supreme Court, but to be honest, I don’t have the caffeine in me just yet. And at this point I really should be praying for my immortal soul, having just committed the unpardonable sin of buying a 10-year-old an iPod Nano. Rest assured, I have an elaborate rationalization for it, which I’ll share upon request, but for now the sight of her sitting at the park-bus stop with white buds in her tender ears is already making me think I made a terrible, terrible mistake.

Have a great weekend.

Posted at 9:38 am in Popculch |

36 responses to “The price of beauty.”

  1. John said on June 29, 2007 at 9:53 am

    “tingly thighs”…my favorite kind!

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  2. Laura said on June 29, 2007 at 10:21 am

    My 11-year-old has an iPod video and a phone, both purchased by me. It sounds bratty on the surface, but I had my reasons. I’ve yet to regret either purchase.

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  3. nancy said on June 29, 2007 at 10:29 am

    She asked if she could spend her own saved allowance money buying an iPod shuffle. Those are $80. I said she could, but worried that they’re so small, it would get lost too easily. So I opted to throw in the $50 gift certificate Apple sent me for the original iPod battery settlement two years ago — it expires in a few months, and they won’t accept it at the Apple store. That brought the total to $130 and I made up the difference toward the Nano. So it’ll take a bite out of her piggy bank, but she gets one that shows pictures, too. The engraving of her name and phone number on the back was the frosting on the cake.

    It felt like win-win at the time, but I dunno, it just looks so privileged-suburban-brat when you see it in action. On the other hand, it was mostly her money. I’ll keep thinking win-win.

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  4. Dorothy said on June 29, 2007 at 11:05 am

    When I first read that, I thought “iPods have not been around for ten years!!” Then I remembered about Kate. My “duh” moment for the day (and probably not the last).

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  5. Peter said on June 29, 2007 at 11:32 am

    Dorothy, I read it the same way. Must not have been written well – that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

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  6. John said on June 29, 2007 at 12:08 pm

    My eyes missed the “an” also the first time. But I tend to read phrases and sentences, not words.

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  7. Jolene said on June 29, 2007 at 12:15 pm

    If you are interested in thinking about yesterday’s Supreme Court decisions, you might want to check out today’s
    opinion section. There are pieces by both Eugene Robinson, who is one of my favorites, and E.J. Dionne, as well as a piece by the editorial board and an analytic piece by Cass Sunstein, who is a legal scholar at the University of Chicago.

    Here’s an excerpt from Robinson:
    George W. Bush’s packing the court with conservatives is likely to prove one of the more enduring aspects of his unfortunate legacy. Bush appointees Roberts and Samuel Alito have joined Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas in a solid, four-justice bloc that can be reliably counted on, pretty much whatever the issue, to vote for turning back the clock.

    That means all they need to do is win the vote of one of the court’s more moderate members and, voila, history is unmade.

    Obviously, he has a strong point of view.

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  8. Mindy said on June 29, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    Allure magazine is a guilty pleasure I’ve had for more years than I’m willing to admit. Several years ago there was a feature showing Donatella Versace in her bathroom. The makeup area alone was bigger than my damn living room. It was equipped with glass shelves clear to the ceiling that showcased countless jars of hope. Just keeping mental tabs on all of them had to be a job unto itself.

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  9. Marcia said on June 29, 2007 at 12:35 pm

    My daughter lost her iPod Shuffle. You can feel better about your decision now.

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  10. 4dbirds said on June 29, 2007 at 12:42 pm

    “Twice a year: Botox and Restylane, one hour, $1,000.” Is that $1000 total or $2000? Either way its a bargain and sign me up. In this area Botox is $300.00 a syringe and two to three are needed and Restylane is $1500 a syringe with 1 1/2 being needed as the norm. How do I know? I looked into it and determined that it was too much to consider.

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  11. LA mary said on June 29, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    I was wise enough to take after the grandmother who had almost no grey hair at 87, so I’m spared that, and I get haircuts about every six months.
    Any waxing going on is done by me, and I’ve never had a professional manicure, pedicure or massage in my life. No botox, no tingly thighs, no facials, but I do like nice makeup. Not lots of it, but I buy the expensive stuff. My indulgences are perfume and good shampoo and yves st laurent mascara, and I think I look OK. I smell good.

    The current good smelling stuff is Marc Jacobs Cucumber. Very nice.

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  12. Jolene said on June 29, 2007 at 1:32 pm

    Everyone should have a pedicure now and again. The painted toenails are OK, but it’s wonderful to have someone bathe your feet, massage them, and rub lotion into them. Incredibly relaxing, and you leave with soft little baby feet.

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  13. alex said on June 29, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    My beauty budget? Couldn’t begin to figure it out. Out of my electric bill, I’m not sure what minute percentage goes toward running the clippers every two months or so when I cut my own hair. And the only “product” in my house is bar soap. Smell me.

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  14. Danny said on June 29, 2007 at 1:44 pm

    Hey, I know most of you hate Coulter and won’t be swayed by this, but it looks like she was misquoted and that Elizabeth Edwards, with the assistance of MSNBC, really obfuscated the truth.

    Regarding the Edwards’ son who died, Coulter presents a quote from campaign consultant Bob Shrum’s book “No Excuses”:

    “(Kerry) was even queasier about Edwards after they met. Edwards had told Kerry he was going to share a story with him that he’d never told anyone else — that after his son Wade had been killed, he climbed onto the slab at the funeral home, laid there and hugged his body, and promised that he’d do all he could to make life better for people, to live up to Wade’s ideals of service. Kerry was stunned, not moved, because, as he told me later, Edwards had recounted the same exact story to him, almost in the exact same words, a year or two before — and with the same preface, that he’d never shared the memory with anyone else. Kerry said he found it chilling, and he decided he couldn’t pick Edwards unless he met with him again.”

    Coulter wrote a column disucssing the fact that several of the Democrats on the 2004 campaign trail were talking about deaths in their families and Edwards was one example:

    John Edwards injects his son’s fatal car accident into his campaign by demanding that everyone notice how he refuses to inject his son’s fatal car accident into his campaign.

    Edwards has talked about his son’s death in a 1996 car accident on “Good Morning America,” in dozens of profiles and in his new book. (“It was and is the most important fact of my life.”) His 1998 Senate campaign ads featured film footage of Edwards at a learning lab he founded in honor of his son, titled “The Wade Edwards Learning Lab.” He wears his son’s Outward Bound pin on his suit lapel. He was going to wear it on his sleeve, until someone suggested that might be a little too “on the nose.”

    If you want points for not using your son’s death politically, don’t you have to take down all those “Ask me about my son’s death in a horrific car accident” bumper stickers? Edwards is like a politician who keeps announcing that he will not use his opponent’s criminal record for partisan political advantage.

    Manifestly, I was not making fun of their son’s death; I was making fun of John Edwards’ incredibly creepy habit of invoking his son’s tragic death to advance his political career — a practice so repellant, it even made John Kerry queasy.

    And then regarding the Edwards’ claim that Coulter was calling for the assassination of John Edwards:

    She claimed I had launched unprovoked attacks on the Edwards’ dead son and called for a terrorist attack on her husband. These are bald-faced lies…

    Here is my full sentence on “Good Morning America… “But about the same time, you know, Bill Maher was not joking and saying he wished Dick Cheney had been killed in a terrorist attack — so I’ve learned my lesson: If I’m going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I’ll just wish he had been killed in a terrorist assassination plot.”

    Have a great weekend.

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  15. brian stouder said on June 29, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    Everyone should have a pedicure now and again

    Pammy got her first one a few weeks ago (at the behest of one of her friends), and loved it. Her description of the experience was very like Jolene’s….but what caught my attention was Pam’s description of the woman who gave her the pedicure. I gather she was built a lot like the Spice Rack (to borrow Emma’s bon mot!) girl, and not afraid to proudly accentuate her assets (which, to some extent is apparently unavoidable in any case, when performing a pedicure).

    So, I might just have to check out this pedicure thing, myself!

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  16. Marcia said on June 29, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Danny, don’t waste your time sticking up for her. She’s poison. For every rebuttal you can find, someone else can poke around and find ten other revolting things she has said.

    And even if some of them are true, there are still some places you don’t go.

    And I’m a Republican. Sort of.

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  17. John said on June 29, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    Brian is back? No trip report? Enquiring minds want to know.

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  18. Jolene said on June 29, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    I live in the DC area, where Vietnamese immigrants locked up the manicure/pedicure market sometime back. Last time I had a pedicure, the person who did it had come here as an immigrant sometime back, had graduated graduated from college, and worked as an accountant. Doing nails was her weekend job, something she’d done full time before graduating and now did for some extra cash and because she liked it.

    Made me wonder whether there was something entirely different from my workaday life that I could do on Saturday for fun and money.

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  19. brian stouder said on June 29, 2007 at 2:48 pm

    Since you asked(!!)…here’s the “short” version:

    We took the sedan, and had Shelby (our 9 year old daughter) and Grant (our 12 year old son) flanking Chloe (the 3 year old) in the back seats. Shelby and Grant each had a small DVD player strapped to the head-restraints in front of them, so that they could watch movies, and Surprise Number One – which proved to be an enduring surprise throughout the journey – was how well this arrangement actually worked. Chloe was the star of the game; she travelled like an old veteran, with nary a complaint over the whole course of the 1,033 mile round trip.

    It was great; the family put up with the oppressive heat and humidity when we stopped for a picnic lunch at the Sidling Hill cut (tradition: Day One of any roadtrip you eat a packed lunch), and humored me by posing for many pictures on the footbridge over the interstate, and the three-level (and air conditioned!) visitor center; lots of beautiful and panoramic backdrops there. On the next day it was Gettysburg/Little Roundtop/pics from the summit/oppressive Pennsylvania heat. The third day it was Hershey Park/water park/kiddy rides/more oppressive Pennsylvania heat and haze.

    After checking out of our room at Mechanicsburg, we went back to ZooAmerica at Hershey, and then on to Carlisle and visited the Carlisle Barracks’ US Army’ Heritage and Education Center,

    which was very cool! Correction – it was very HOT! It was about 97 degrees with a heavy Pennsylvania haze obscuring the nearby mountain range lines… We viewed the museum exhibits in the very nice air conditioned facility (admission = free, courtesy of the US Army; but donations accepted)

    but if you wanted to experience the Army’s Heritage Trail, then you marched out under the sun for about a mile; and the reward was getting to go into World War One trenches (complete with sandbags, duckboards, firing steps, nearby shell holes, and headquarters dugout) past Civil War battery emplacements, into a very impressive Revolutionary War Redoubt (complete with cannon emplacements, mortars, abatis, and a mote), past a Huey and Vitnam-era equipment, past an Omaha Beach exhibit, and other things.

    The Carlisle stop was exactly what I love about vacation travel by car – unplanned, and marvelous. We were driving past on I-81 and saw the Huey and the massive redoubt, and made a point of stopping by before the trip was over.

    Another semi-unplanned stop was at Somerset, Pennsylvania, to see the Flight 93 Memorial there. We had it in mind to stop there, if it was daylight, and so it was when we were tooling down the Turnpike at about 6 pm and exited for Somerset.

    There were no signs. We eventually stopped at a gas station, where I bought an icy cold Diet Coke, and asked the fellow there if he could tell me where the Flight 93 Memorial is. He smiled and said he’d LOVE to give me directions, and he gave me the top sheet off a thick stack of copies, telling me that he gets asked all the time. His directions were pretty good, if a little opaque; eventually we found ourselves maybe 10 miles out of Somerset and in the back country, on very hilly roads, and with no idea where to go. As the daylight dimmed, and it looked like rain was brewing, we saw a sign for Shanksville – and Pam and I headed for that town, knowing that the event was very close to there. When we reached the town (a few houses, a church and a closed gas station) we saw our first PENDOT sign, which said FLT 93 MEMORIAL 1 MILE and had an arrow to the right. We proceeded down Skyline road, which breaks into the clear and rises to the top of a ridge, and then we saw a pull-off, and a temporary memorial site to the right. There was a hill to the left, and maybe a quarter of a mile that way was was a crane with a flag atop it (maybe where they will build the permanent site?). To the right, maybe a quarter mile into the open field was a large, supported (not flapping) US flag at ground level (the impact site). We walked to the temporary memorial site just off the road, where maybe 10 or 15 other visitors were, all quietly reading the various stone markers, benches, letters, and other items posted/planted there. We noticed it was a good 20-30 degrees cooler than it had been at Carlisle earlier that day…almost chilly; and it began to rain – big drops, and slowly. Nobody hurried to leave. People continued their pilgrimage, as we did; looking into the distance, at the grounded flag; reading some of the things posted, about this or that passenger; departing the scene as others drove in.

    It was a compelling bookend to our visit to the pinacle of Little Round Top

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  20. harry near indy said on June 29, 2007 at 3:02 pm

    Everyone should have a pedicure now and again … it’s wonderful to have someone bathe your feet, massage them, and rub lotion into them. Incredibly relaxing

    jolene, i agree. i’ve had a pedicure twice — the first just to see what it was like, and my toe nails were getting a bit long and gnarly, and the second time because i liked it.

    especially nice for me was someone scraping off the dead skin on the soles of my feet.

    and the total price — $25. I gave the pedicurist a $10 tip each time.

    i’d recommend any one — man or woman — to have one.

    but i skipped having my toenails painted. i have my limits.

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  21. basset said on June 29, 2007 at 8:58 pm

    as a hetero male just a few years older than Ms. $65-Hair-Blown-Out (what was she paying for, anyway? doesn’t look any different to me), I have to say that none of the women in that article do a thing for me.

    then again, they wouldn’t think I was any prize either, so they probably figure it’s money well spent.

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  22. deb said on June 30, 2007 at 9:15 am

    you know what puzzles me, apart from the unbelievable expense? where on earth do such women find the TIME for all this celebration of self? i can’t even manage to schedule a haircut on a regular basis.

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  23. Jeff said on June 30, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    Brian — Are you my dad, writing under a pseudonym? Sure sounds like it, from packed lunch to Sideling Hill to Carlisle Mil. Trail on vacation. For a foot massage, take the Mammoth Cave Nat’l Park “Violet City Lantern Tour,” three hours over three miles of rugged up-n-down trail, then swap foot rubs with yr dearly beloved back in the campground. What an amazing experience of the planet, of time, of history, of vivid experience — and your feet will really appreciate the extra attention after all the rolling and flexing across limestone breakdown blocks.

    Stop by Thomas Merton’s Abbey of Gethsemani on the way home, buying some Trappist fudge made with Kentucky Bourbon . . . sorry dad, but that’s a vacation! Or, sorry Brian, if that’s really who you are.

    Then i cut my son’s hair when we got home before 4th of July parade season in central Ohio; he’ll enjoy the years of therapy, i’m sure.

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  24. brian stouder said on June 30, 2007 at 6:57 pm

    Trappist fudge made with Kentucky Bourbon

    that sounds pretty good! You can see a picture of Pam and Chloe at the Flight 93 Temporary Memorial over at Mitch Harper’s site

    That stop really got me

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  25. Kim said on June 30, 2007 at 7:12 pm

    To me, the thing that is most telling about Ann Coulter’s alleged dis of John Edwards is that she did not deny it. She said, I believe, “that was three years ago,” as if time had healed that particular hurt. She did, however, deny the thing she had said the day before (I forget exactly, but it was typical shrill icky.)

    About the iPod Nano: I expressly told my sister and mom NOT to buy Child 1 and Child 2 an iPod for Christmas back in 2005. The nanos had just come out, and my sister is known for her over-the-top-ness with gift-giving. Christmas Eve, I’m putting gifts under the tree and have opened the package that arrived via USPS some days back (900 miles separates us). It’s a suspicious rectangle. I open it and, voila! two iPod Nanos. I was so ticked at my sister and mom, but that is totally off-topic (not to mention another issue).

    Short version: I told the kids (10 and 12 at the time) if I ever found an iPod in a place they shouldn’t be (floor, couch, grass, driveway) it would be mine, forever. It’s the only thing they seem to care for. Plus, they’re getting all this completely cool music, which I play in the van all the time when they’re riding with me, which is all the time, mostly.

    The only rule these days that I struggle to enforce is the maintain eye contact and pay attention to adults rule, esp. when they’re jamming.

    Brian Stouder: Sounds like a fun trip. If you haven’t been to Petersburg just outside Richmond you’d love it for the Crater, which is the battle depicted in the film Cold Mountain. I never knew anything about the South (except “We won.”) until I lived here. Fascinating place.

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  26. basset said on July 1, 2007 at 1:53 am

    A few years ago a Mammoth Cave guide told me the two ignorant questions she was most often asked were…

    “How many miles of undiscovered passages are there?”


    “Is the whole cave underground?”

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  27. brian stouder said on July 1, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    I’ve always been tempted to try one of those cave hikes that are always on the highway billboards. As we headed into Hershey we saw one, which had the very tempting claim of 52 degree temperatures (it was 97 the day we drove past that sign)….but the first time I ever try such a thing won’t be with the whole family in tow! (and anyway, on second thought 52 F began to sound pretty cold to me)

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  28. Bob said on July 1, 2007 at 4:17 pm

    For a family cave excursion, Zane Caverns in Ohio is pretty good. It’s interesting and not excessively rigorous, and it’s an easy day-trip. In the vicinity there are also the Piatt Castles and the Top of Ohio Bikeway, a hilly, scenic loop anchored in Bellefontaine and passing through some quaint villages.

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  29. joodyb said on July 1, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    brian and harry et al: a guy was next to me in the Big Moving Chairs Saturday at LA Nails. I didn’t think a thing of it until i noticed he too was getting a French pedicure. (i don’t know if he opted for my combo choice, which i’m calling the ‘Coneheads’: a French with this rather intergalactic-looking opalescent topcoat.)

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  30. Dorothy said on July 1, 2007 at 4:43 pm

    Welcome back, Brian! Have you found the remotes yet?!

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  31. Connie said on July 1, 2007 at 5:12 pm

    Hey, I’m back too. And I spent a night in Somerset PA on my trip, and had no clue about being close to the memorial. The town was filled with bikers, something was going on.

    As for my conference in DC it was great, got to hear some great names speak including Julie Andrews, Garrison Keillor and John Scalzi. But didn’t get much sightseeing done this time.

    Brian, we did Gettysburg/DC some ten years ago and it was 100 degrees the whole time.

    We ended the sightseeing part of our trip with an afternoon on Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and a visit with old friends in the Shenandoah Valley.

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  32. brian stouder said on July 1, 2007 at 5:39 pm

    Dorothy – took awhile, but we found the remotes…now if only I could find my underwear.

    Connie – we spent the night in Somerset Wednesday 7/27; Pammy was unhappy with the waitress who never did refill her glass of water. This put the pressure on me when I filled out the bill – she was lobbying for a thin tip, and I HATE doing less than 15%…makes me feel like a shop-lifter (if that makes any sense). I gave her 12% and made a bee-line for the door, AND got in trouble nonetheless!


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  33. Dorothy said on July 2, 2007 at 7:36 am

    Last time I saw your BVD’s Marcia had them on her head and was sliding down the banister.

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  34. brian stouder said on July 2, 2007 at 7:43 am


    Well, as holey* as they were, at least a person could see any approaching obstacles or hazards!

    *as in tattered, not sacred

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  35. Connie said on July 2, 2007 at 10:42 am

    Brian, we spent the night in Somerset on Thursday, 6/22. We should have planned better!

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  36. Marcia said on July 2, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Marcia had them on her head

    Oh dear God.

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