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The mission: Drop $75,000 at Neiman Marcus in downtown Minneapolis, just like the GOP did for vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin. The only difference was I could only pretend-spend.
How fast could I do it? Go!
For starters, I pulled my rickety 1996 Jetta into the très-riche RBC Plaza and Gaviidae Common parking facility. Eleven dollars for a couple of hours and valet service. Alas, it was the only real cash I would part with. For Real America, as Palin likes to call her constituents, this is as close as we'll ever get to that kind of a shopping spree.
So I headed for my favorite place to drop imaginary dough -- the women's fine apparel department, on the second floor. I quickly spied a presidential Proenza Schouler suit dress, a silk ensemble replete with straight-line sheath and slightly Victorian overcoat ($3,595).
The Dolce & Gabbana department was surprisingly fruitful. It offered thousands and thousands of dollars' worth of tailored jumpers and herringbone jackets. There was even an upscale version of the working woman's iconic scarf-neck blouse ($1,150).
But spending all that money was harder than I thought, what with all the affordable business suits and dresses by Diane Von Furstenberg ($365), Theory ($295) and ABS ($295).
In order to stay on track, I had no choice but to splurge on impolitic clothes. In a fit, I went for a busy Missoni sweater dress ($1,550). I was also seduced by a girly fitted checked coat by Milly ($735).
Feeling frantic, I bagged an entire aisle's worth of Burberry: a belted jacquard dress ($995), a flirty royal-purple frock ($595), a gold-and-black silk gingham sheath ($895) and a belted charcoal sweater dress ($595). In the interest of saving time, I then turned my attention to bigger-ticket items, especially outerwear. I picked up a light gold St. John trench ($1,595), a faux-crocodile Armani slicker ($1,925) and a jewel-green coat by Roberto Cavalli ($3,095).
With dollars left to burn, I headed downstairs to the surest money-suck in town: the women's shoe department. I bought an entire display table of Christian Louboutin bootlets ($4,575), then tossed in a suede pair by Manolo Blahnik ($775). Of course, all the lady-lawmakers sport militaristic black boots these days, just like Condi Rice. They're so cheap! I had to search for a pair that cost more than $500, but eventually settled on some black patent flats by Gucci ($1,495).
Last stop: designer handbags. Somehow I found Fendi's patent leather Spy Bag most appropriate ($1,480). But I also liked the clout wielded by the enormous Borsa Tote Doctor Bag ($1,810). Marc Jacobs' purses are entirely too fussy -- but in the interest of efficiency, I bought a few of those, too ($995 to $1,350).
According to my scribbled calculations, at this point I was finished. Clocking in at just one hour and 45 minutes, I was loaded up on $75,000 worth of the most beautiful objects that make-believe money (and campaign financing) can buy.
Christy DeSmith is a Minneapolis writer.