Spencer Berry

Materialistic excuses and the daily joy of something lovely

2015 May 13

I’ve been told I am a snob and an elitist many times, either about my taste in movies or the things I fill my house with. I like nice things.  To me, the joy they bring is worth the investment.

My father has this same love for quality and the satisfaction of using something that servers its purpose regularly, confidently, and for years on end.

For example, my coffee machine is a La Pavoni Europiccola.

EuropiccolaWhen my dad went to Italy in the 90s, he came home and missed Italian coffee. He bought this coffee machine.

It’s a wonderful machine, but also super finicky. On it’s worst day, it makes a pretty good cup of coffee.  Most of the time it makes a damn fine cup of coffee, but every once in a while, everything aligns and the coffee is otherworldly: tastes beyond description.

It’s also a ritual to prepare. Heat up water, heat up machine, grind beans, heat up the cup and portafilter, carefully fill with ground beans, tamp, load, pull up, slowly push down, steam milk, clean up.

Some people don’t care and don’t get it.

I have two general feelings about people who “don’t get it”:

  1. Jealousy. They don’t obsess over these things, they don’t spend countless thought cycles contemplating how to make a better cup.  They don’t care how to hit the perfect 20 second pull or if they should clean out the grinder to get a better grind.
  2. Pity. They won’t get to feel a swelling of joy each morning.  Most days I enjoy watching the crema dance on the surface of the coffee. I get butterflies in my stomach when I think about the epic potential of this morning’s cup.

That’s just one example though.

My favorite clothes are made by this guy named Roy. I love denim, I’ve spent hours of thought and research on denim. It is a ridiculous idea to buy jeans that are too big so that you can soak them in the tub and have them shrink each time you wear them. Folks tease me like I should be scared to get my pants dirty, how can I wear those, aren’t I scared they’ll get messed up?

The opposite is true. When I pull my Roy’s on in the morning, I feel joy. I love the craftsmanship, I love the way they evolve every time I wear them. I even love their odd flaws, like this absurd legtwist on my RN4s:

[caption id=”attachment_1029” align=”alignnone” width=”474”]Zm0GsLU Legtwist is when the seamlines on each side of the leg rotate with the twill of the fabric - so in this case you can see the outer selvedge on the left leg is at about 10 o’ clock and the inner seam from the right leg is about the same spot, which puts the right leg’s selvage at about 4 o’ clock.[/caption]

This is how I am. I get into things.  It’s part of my struggle with moderation.

I didn’t write this just to show off my awesome shit, though.

I mostly wanted to emphasize that I do these things because they make me happy. They bring me joy. It may seem materialistic, but if I can buy something once, get joy from it every time I use it, and not have to replace it for years to come, I am glad to.

You don’t have to be that way, but I certainly am.

*featured image is me in a Roy Shirt and a Tezomeya Tee, both of which age beautifully and give me daily joy.  Photo taken byBen the Scruffian, in New Orleans, April of 2015