Sunday, January 07, 2001

Oxygen bars new way to blow your money

        Do you just have too much cash lying around the house? Is the money tree in your backyard growing dollar bills faster than you can spend them?

        Did you defy the evil Nasdaq genie and make a great, big bundle in the market recently?

        If so, you will be happy to learn about an exciting new opportunity to pay for something formerly available free of charge.

        Beginning this weekend, Greater Cincinnatians will have a chance to pay as much as $20 for air.

        Entrepreneurs no doubt have been encouraged by the spectacle of millions of Americans buying water in plastic bottles instead of just turning on their taps.

        Unless there's an outrageous price tag, it's simply not good enough. Pay TV. ATM fees. Adult collectors pay $300 for a $5 Beanie Baby. Adult investors put money in dot-com stocks.

        Clearly, some of us have more money than brains.

Boob economics
               It's difficult to say who first spotted this trend. Banks perhaps. Hey, those boobs will pay for anything. Let's charge them a fee to get their own money back.

        Airlines? Cancel the complimentary dinner. Throw some peanuts to these losers and charge them extra for leg room.

        Ambitious business people apparently have noted the willingness of consumers to pay cable television companies for reruns of I Love Lucy and Gilligan's Island. Customers, depending on their level of commitment, can watch cooking shows, where people prepare meals that are not subsequently served in paper bags and Styrofoam containers. I think this is on the History Channel between episodes of the Hitler Show.

        Those who have Biggie Sized themselves into obesity at the drive-through window can fork over a biggie wad of money for a StairMaster, which is just like walking up steps, except more expensive.

Fake apple pie
               Instead of hanging around the kitchen on baking day, you can buy a candle that mimics the smell of apple pie. If it's an expensive candle, it will be billed as “aromatherapy.” In our building, a woman provides just about as much aromatherapy as we can tolerate every time we get in the elevator with her.

        Free of charge.

        If no one at your workplace offers the same service, you can purchase your own cheap perfume. Or expensive oils. Vanilla “essence,” for instance, is just like the vanilla in your cupboard except it costs more and comes in a decorator jar.

        Phone books are still free. So is mail delivery. You might have to pay 34 cents to send a letter, but you can receive it free of charge.

        You can still borrow a library book without having to hand over your Visa card.

        There's no toll to cross the Suspension Bridge.

        We are still figuring out who should pay for public education, but right now it is still free to students.

        That's about it. Well, air, of course. Right now, that's still free.

        Californians have had the option of paying for air for years. And if it's good enough for movie stars, we regular people in the heartland should not be denied. Pranayama Oxygen Bar in East Hyde Park is now open for business from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

        You can blow your money on a few minutes with a breathing tube full of herb-scented oxygen.

        Or you are still free to laugh your head off.

        E-mail or call (513) 768-8393.


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