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So that's how the other half lives

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A couple of weeks ago, we get notice of two "In Circle Bonus Days" at our local Neiman Marcus.

So mom and I drive over there tonight and see a red carpet. Guys in tuxes.

Did I mention I'm an engineer? I'm in purple twill pants, a teal v-neck top, and a navy cardigan to make it clash less. Oh, and Keen sneakers with matching navy socks, so they look dressier than they actually are.

We get up to the red carpet and see it's a private party. Mom almost walks away, and I say, "I received an invitation." They sent me inside to look at the Big Book, and lo, my name was present. So was Mom's. (We spend too much at NM).

There's a band.

The male staff are in tuxedos, mostly.

Cute waiters are handing out champagne.

More waitstaff are handing out hors d'oeuvres.

The customers are dressed to the nines, many in very expensive pieces (meanwhile, I'm dressed in catalog clothes, and my total outfit cost less than their least expensive piece). I see Chanel purses. Gucci bags. Burberry pieces. Lots of designers I recognize. A Missoni or two (those I wanted to nab -- I got himself a marked down Missoni shirt last year for a song).

I'm offered a makeover. Twice. (But see, I know the schtick, you're honor-bound to buy a couple hundred bucks worth of stuff. Just because I threw clothes on and ran to the office without makeup this morning doesn't mean I don't have gobs.)

So we finally get to the Jo Malone counter to buy goodies, narrowly missing one of the items I'm seeking. They offer (as they always do) to ship it from another store for free. Mom takes them up on that, but I decide to do some alternate purchases, spending more on a friend than I'd intended, but okay.

$200 later, I get my free gift with purchase and wander off to find my mother in the men's department, where she's picked up a couple of gifts.

Total elapsed time: under an hour, and we never made it off the first floor, but we've both had champagne and nummies, listened to a band, and spent a small amount of time with our favorite store clerk.

NM is all about relationships.

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