John D. Spooner is an investment adviser, author and novelist. His most recent book is No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Lessons for Young Adults. Here, he responds to queries from advice seekers of all ages. Send your conundrums to firstname.lastname@example.org.
OK, so I know it’s going to be legal in July, but right now I’m having my own issues with pot. Have you noticed lately that everywhere you walk it’s in the air? My apartment building has nine stories, and every time the elevator doors open, it wafts in. The hall on my floor, the lobby—everywhere it seems—stinks of marijuana. I say live and let live, but is this going to be the new norm? Talk about air pollution! Well, you’re asking someone who grew up in an era when virtually everyone smoked cigarettes. My least favorite chore was cleaning up after a dinner party. There would be almost a dozen large ashtrays, full of butts, which I’d dump out, then wash and dry the trays. When my wife and I were newlyweds, and our friends were marrying as well, our usual wedding present to them was a crystal ashtray from Shreve, Crump & Low, moderately expensive. You could never have enough ashtrays.
Before that, when I was living at home after college, I would go out on dates and often come home late. I would dread driving up my parents’ driveway because in the front window I would see the shining symbol of the watch-woman: My mother’s cigarette lighting up the window of my room. Mom was waiting up to call me a “drunken sot.”
So now it seems like you’re going to be conscious of pot smoke and smells in many places. But there will be endless choices for places to live and certainly endless places that will not reek of pot smell. Do a little research. And move if it bothers you that much.
I realize that Big Brother is watching us closely—all over the place—but you’re still free to “move around the country.”
I’m a woman in my late 20s who is really into the dating game. But a friend recently reminded me of the story of the princess and the frog, and how she had to kiss the frog that then turned into a prince. How many frogs do I have to kiss before one of them becomes a prince? Well, the frog population is infinitely larger than the prince population. I talk with young people all the time, and my takeaway now is: You cannot define relationships. They’re all over the place. One woman, age 25, recently told me, “I don’t want one person. My girlfriends and I want adventures, multiple relationships. As for frogs…who knows, but there are probably people who are attracted to them. I may be OK with frogs, if they have a great sense of humor.”
But I’ll try to be serious because love and companionship are serious matters. My guess is that you can tell in the first hour of a date whether or not you are compatible. And don’t kid yourself as luck certainly plays a role. But you do have to keep experimenting in order to get good luck to kick in. Happiness is not delivered over the transom. Do not quit this “dance of chance” because you cannot stand the game anymore. Get out there. But know that you do not have to kiss all the frogs. Keep them guessing. It’s what makes the froggy jump.
This might seem like a silly question, but as it concerns finance, I’d like your input. My girlfriends and I spend a lot of money on our hair. I have actually shopped around, looking into many nice salons, and the prices are pretty much high everywhere. Yes, I know there are places where you can get a $15 haircut, but you’ll probably end up regretting it. Is it worth it to spend practically a car payment on hair every six weeks? The peace of mind knowing you have a reliable person is really nice, but it’s a large expense. I get it: Shoes, bags and hair. Some time ago, I took a survey of about 25 women of various ages and asked them, “What do you care most about in a frivolous way?” These three things were the most mentioned: shoes, bags and hair. My quick answer to your question would be to always have some indulgence in your life to brighten your mood, even if it’s something you can feel a little bit guilty about, like getting a new hair experience—or, in my life, getting one more bow tie that I certainly don’t need and may even wear only once before deciding I don’t like it. Sometimes impulse can give you a lift.
But the real expert in this is my friend Karen, who has been my best street-smart source for beauty tips for a long time. She is a marketing maven as well as a barber, stylist and adviser on everything from hair and nails to tanning and love. Karen tells me, “With a little bit of research, there’s so much you can do on your own on the cheap. Coloring that costs $300 dollars in a salon, you can do alone for $100. Hair extensions for $300-$800 you can do alone or with a girlfriend. Think about it. Is the person doing your hair thinking about you? Or thinking about paying the rent? Most people are talked into something.
I try to teach my clients. Go to YouTube or Google stuff like ‘best color for brunettes.’ There are so many tutorials out there, if you search a little. So if you’re fixated on cost, help yourself.”