Joanne Palmer: Renting a life with a click |

Joanne Palmer: Renting a life with a click

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

— You can rent a movie, rent a car, rent a hotel room — so why not rent a life? Yes, life. I know you think I'm kidding, that I'm one french fry short of a Happy Meal or not the brightest crayon in the box, but it can be done. Spring, the season of renewal, is just around the corner, so read on to re-create your life.

Let's start with a family. Some of you may be blessed with "perfect" families, families who do not arrive with a matching set of Louis Vuitton emotional baggage, families who do not hit your buttons and make you want to sit alone in front of roaring fireplace with a cheap bottle of Scotch.

And then there's the rest of us.

Apparently, dysfunctional families are such a problem in Japan that it has spawned enterprises such as Tokyo agency Hagemashi Tai. Hagemashi Tai translates to "we want to cheer you up." Priceless. Hagemashi Tai supplies clients with adult actors willing to impersonate any family member you require. Surely these actors memorize phrases such as: "美しい。(うつくしい。)" Loosely translated, I think this means, "You look great. Have you lost 10 pounds? My treat for sushi."


Now, friends. There can be times when having some extra friends might come in handy. Say, for example, you are wrongly accused of some heinous crime and you need to pad the courtroom with supporters. This being Steamboat Springs, most of your friends are likely working their second, third or fourth jobs on the day you need them the most. Or if it's a powder day, well, no one might show up. That's why you need A monthly membership is only $24.95 per month — roughly the cost of one happy hour. After that, hourly rates are negotiable and typically average $10 to $50 per hour, although if you have a free lift ticket to spare, I imagine you can have lots of friends for free.

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Now, clothes.

Steamboat is not exactly known as the fashion capital of North­west Colorado, or anywhere else. Most women I know have closets and garage bays overflowing with exercise wear, ski wear, active wear and, if truth be told, dozens of wool socks. Somewhere in a suitcase underneath a bed, there may be an out-of-style dress, but for many Steamboat women, dress is a four-letter word. Of course, every now and then an occasion arises, usually out of town, when something other than long underwear and a puffy coat is required.

For example, maybe you are one of the lucky few that is on the guest list for the royal wedding April 29. Since Palmer is a British name and I do like corgis, I suspect my invitation will be arriving any day now. When that happy day arrives, I plan to visit, a mail-order lender of "frocks and rocks." Rent the Runway has a selection that could probably fill a bathroom at Buckingham Palace: 22,000 dresses and 6,000 pieces of bling. Wahoo! A $525 dress can be rented for four days for just $75, leaving enough funds for one of those over-the-top hats the Brits insist on wearing to weddings.

If, while at the royal wedding, you should meet your own Prince Charming (I've already found mine) and decide to tie the knot, you can rent some wedding guests (from another agency in Japan) and the RoboWranglers, a four-piece country-and-Western band from

The RoboWranglers are, in fact, robots, so you will have to incur some hefty shipping and handling charges but, hey, it's your wedding.

There are some things money can't buy, but in this case, if you feel like trying on a new life, break out the credit card and your computer and give it a whirl.

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