Saturday, September 10, 2005


You know I can’t help but think there’s something abnormally wrong with me when other people can get enviable satisfaction from something that I fail to understand. It makes me anxious. Today I am anxious and the reason for my anxiety is I fail to understand the rewards of ‘ambiance’.

Now what annoys me and God knows there should be a law against it is having to pay for something I can’t pocket. Something I can’t identify or even rationalize. For lack of a better word to describe it, let’s just call it ‘ambiance’. And just in case you don’t know what I am talking about, here are some examples:

Heading the list is Restaurant ambiance. Now when it comes to really good and excellent food, I don’t mind paying the price if the establishment is clean and when I’m done eating I’m so stuffed I practically have to crawl on my hands and knees to the car. But ambiance? It’s nothing more than a purported feeling. But if it exists, even if it’s not on the menu, it’s included in the bill. As extra charges blended into the price of the food. Extra charges for that special feeling that is supposed to come with the addition of plush carpets, fresh fleurs on the table, soft music, dim lighting, and exotic décor. But the only feeling I have is that the bill is unreasonable. To be totally fair, don’t you think ambiance should be detailed on the bill, rather than blended in with the cost of the meal?

But that’s not all. Then there is the cost of ambiance that comes on my telephone bills and gas bills. Don’t be fooled. That line about ‘recovery charges’ or ‘unspecified charges’ is some kind of blended add-on that definitely parallels the same kind of thinking as restaurant ambiance charges.

Ambiance is also the thing that makes costs differ though one product is an exact duplicate of another. The avocado dishwasher costs more than the white one. The red car costs more than the black one. White bath towels cost more than green ones. The hotel room with the same bed, same quilts, same size of room, costs more because of the paintings on the wall or the indirect lighting. And if one really cares about ‘ambiance’, if one is really looking for ‘ambiance’, there is ambiance home lighting, dinnerware, candles and accessories, plumbing, bedding, and even skin care products, just to name a few.

Now I really need a fully-detailed and articulate manual about ‘ambiance’ so I can understand it. I do understand that ambiance is supposed to give one an unexpected, pleasurable and somewhat climactic emotional rush. Like an orgasm, I guess. But despite all the extra money I find myself dishing out on ambiance, I’ve never yet reached a climax.

Maybe I just don’t fully understand the term. So I looked it up. Ambiance is not as good as it gets. This is the most common definition I found for 'ambiance'.

The special atmosphere or mood created by a particular environment: "The noir ambience is dominated by low-key lighting . . . and deep shadows, creating feelings of disorientation, loneliness and entrapment" (UCLA Film/TV Archive).

I should be surprised, but really I’m not. I guess that is what I was feeling all along. But the definition fails to mention the most obvious part – […and a feeling of economic loss].

P.S. I was going to contact Dr. Phil this morning to get help with my emotional state and my limited understanding of ambiance. After all, Dr. Phil knows everything.

But I looked out my window and saw golden leaves on the maple tree, cast into silk by the sun. A handsome dog sitting on the corner by the gatepost guarding his territory with a watchful eye. The beauty of the backdrop of a golden field freshly swathed across the road. A stunningly beautiful blue jay checking the feeder for treats. The gazing-ball in my flower bed winking at me with one brilliant shaft of light. I sipped my fresh-brewed coffee and stepped outside. Suddenly I got an emotional rush. A rush that I think is what most cultured people interpret as ‘ambiance’.

Nice, very nice.


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