I had not planned to write further on my new shirts, but last night a billionaire sailed into town for dinner. This happens to me even less often than my finding $39 shirts for $12.99 at Walgreens (one of you wrote to say they would have been $55 shirts at the Gap! I love it!), so my point is not to show off, just to report the facts.

Dinner. What to wear?

This is a very old friend (I find it tough to make friends with billionaires after they become billionaires, hard though I try) – or, as they say, a ‘friend of long-standing,’ because he is not old old – and the dinner we had in mind could not have been more casual.

I switched out of my New Balance 990s into my Rockports (casual, yes, but this was dinner, not lunch, and with a billionaire) and donned one of my new Walgreens shirts.

Billionaire drives over, I hop in the car, we get to the place, it turns out not to have a liquor license but-you-can-bring-in-your-own-wine, we go around the corner to the liquor store, and Billionaire, who has long been amused by my frugality (but who had to admit this was not a bad looking shirt for $12.99), asks me what my top would be in a red wine.

I wasn’t sure whether he meant my ‘top varietal’ or my ‘top price,’ but knowing almost nothing about wine (Merlot if it’s red, Chablis if it’s white, end of story) I said $12. Because really, you can always get a good bottle of red wine at a liquor store for $12 or less. It is just the way the world works.

Billionaire laughed and headed straight for the bottles that were locked up in a special case. One of them was $339. One of them was $1,400. ‘Billionaire,’ I said, ‘if you spend more than $100 on a bottle of wine, I will kill you.’ ‘Why is that?’ he asked, examining a bottle from the days of Louis XIV. ‘Because,’ I said, ‘there are children starving in China.’

I think he was perusing the trophy case mainly to get my goat. He left with a simple $110 bottle of wine and a $1.07 corkscrew and we walked back to the casual little restaurant and sat down. I ordered a diet Coke. To be sociable, and to see what $110 wine tasted like (it would have been marked up to $300 on a restaurant menu), I let the waiter pour me half a glass.

And now here’s where the camera work gets tricky, but somehow, after just a couple of minutes of animated conversation, and a sip or two of the wine (woody, with a note of insouciant extravagance), Billionaire must have pushed forward a menu which bumped into a magazine that scrunched into and all but knocked over my wine glass. I managed to catch it from crashing to the floor, but not before most of the contents had wound up – $110 red wine! – on my brand new, much bragged about $12.99 Walgreens shirt.

I’m not sure what the point of this story is, other than perhaps to let you know that red wine will come out if you wash it promptly. But, oh, wait – I forgot the last little piece of this.

So we’re now finished with dinner (and I have reluctantly decided not to try to take home the wine that remains, but only because we couldn’t find the cork – ‘you mean you’re just going to leave it here?’ I marvel), and begin walking back toward the car, and I see The Gap (the gap between Gaps in many cities having become barely a block or two, it’s hard to walk very far and not see one), and – because my Gap ‘clean cut’ khakis had been bespotted in the accident as well – I went in to get a replacement pair. And as I was signing the credit card slip, I said to my sales professional: ‘Now, you are a fashion professional, and I need your honest, expert opinion.’ He looked a little surprised, but willing. ‘Look at this shirt,’ I said, pointing to myself. ‘Could this be a Gap denim shirt? Assuming it didn’t have all these red wine stains on it?’

His brow furrowed in half a moment’s appraisal.

‘Sure,’ he said.

‘Walgreens,’ I smiled, turning triumphantly and marching out the door.

 

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