Fran Lebowitz Tells You How To Do Money

FranThere are practical reasons to fear growing older: breaking a hip; getting dementia; losing one’s cultural relevance; what happens if Social Security runs out; Jack Nicholson no longer wanting to sleep with you.

But there are plusses too! Politicians cater to you to get your votes. You no longer have to worry about not having the most exciting plans ever for a Saturday night, because who cares? You can eat dinner however early you want and go to sleep whenever you want. And, if you’re really lucky, like Fran “The Man” Lebowitz, you can get interviewed for ELLE Magazine and be as kvetchy as you want — in fact, the kvetchier you are, the more people will love you!

I used to buy all my shirts at Brooks [Brothers] but that was completely ruined about 20 years ago. They discontinued the shirt I liked. If I had only known this—I mean, if you’re going to discontinue an item that thousands and thousands of people buy, announce it. Say, ‘We will no longer be making our excellent Brooks Brothers cotton shirts that we made for 5,000 years. We’re going to change them in some awful way. We’re alerting you so you can buy a lifetime supply.’ Shirts don’t go bad, they’re not peaches.

Fran Lebowitz is like the mean voice in my head, only funnier. O speak again, bright angel!

As with my perfect white shirts, it never occurred to me that they’d stop making my original tortoiseshell eyeglasses—the ones I started with—but then they did. So now I have glasses that are like the originals, sort of like the originals, kind of like the originals … I have made several attempts to recover what I once had.

The ones I’m wearing right now, I had them made. Now, for someone who didn’t grow up in the depression, but who basically behaves as if I did (because I was raised by people who did) it’s crazy to me that I didn’t ask up front how much it would cost. They cost so much that I never did it again. I was traumatized by it.

Would you say how much they cost?
I wouldn’t. I’m mortified.

But like, maybe in comparison to something? Like, “My eyeglass frames were about as much as…”
A car.

A car. Wow! What else does Fran Lebowitz spend money on? Shoes. (“‘I had my [special wing-tip] cowboy boots made. It’s very hard to find this man who makes them. And I’m not going to give out his name because I don’t want you to know what they cost.'”) And jeans. She laments, “‘I wish that real estate were cheaper and clothes were more expensive. But that’s what young people want: $2 T shirts that fall apart in the wash.'”

Fran Lebowitz does not actually know what young people want. Still, we forgive her, because she is Fran Lebowitz, the high priestess of strong opinions, a stern, uncompromising figure of real adulthood, and she is right about many things. For instance, real estate should be cheaper and clothes probably should cost more, because it should not be made cheaply in sweatshops. And dry cleaning is both a mystery and a pain:

I dry-clean as infrequently as possible—not only because it’s psychotically expensive, but also because who knows what it does to the clothes? Dry…clean. These words don’t go together. Wet clean—that is how you clean. I can’t even imagine the things they do at the drycleaner. I don’t want to know.

On the other hand, she is probably wrong about bike helmets.

The trademark of New York City fashion used to be that we dressed more seriously here. More formally. Now people need special costumes to ride bicycles. I mean, a helmet, what, are you an astronaut?? 

Mostly we appreciate her fierceness. She doesn’t care if she offends men by telling them they should not waste money on shorts, or women by telling them they invest in real pants rather than pajamas / yoga wear. She hands down opinions like a Supreme Court Justice with a lifetime appointment.

Most people just aren’t good looking enough to wear what they have on. They should change. They should get some slacks and a nice overcoat.

When I use the word “should,” my therapist corrects me. When Fran Lebowitz uses the word “should,” nobody says nuthin’.


Photo: Christopher Macsurak



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