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Archive for August, 2009

#58 - White Pants

#58 - White Pants

White Pants
Price: No Condiments or Red Wine

As summer draws to a close, the sun finally sets on another season of rocking the white pants. Labor Day is just around the corner so it seems like the right time to reflect and revisit questions like “dude, what the f*&k are you wearing?” While women will always have a classic elegance when wearing white pants, men will always have jokes made about them when wearing white pants. That is unless they are professional athletes in uniform, sailors in uniform or male nurses in a psychiatric ward which brings up an entirely different list of questions.

While rich people love wearing white pants they know it is wrong. At some point between deciding to wear them and complimenting their own posterior in the mirror they realize that they are about to spend an entire day looking like Captain Stubing’s cabin boy and still they walk out the door to their freshly waxed Range Rover. Knowing that rich people love being right, they spend their short commute prepping why white pants are a must-have wardrobe item to counter snide remarks from the likes of Hunter in Sales. Explanations range from “knowing fashion” to “it keeps me cool by reflecting the sun” and if required “I’m sailing with Jim from Oracle this afternoon”.

None are convincing arguments that sway anyone towards considering white pants as a good decision but the desire to evade a half hour lecture on why white pants represent culture means nodding one’s head and quickly departing in the opposite direction. The explanation for white pants is simple; to flaunt wealth. Just as middle-class kids wear skirts over their jeans to illustrate that they have more clothes than they know what to do with, rich people use white pants as a way to showcase their disregard for practical choices. A typical pair of white pants will last for two and a half uses before coffee, wine, mustard, grass or fresh berries deflower the pants and render them useless. This gives their owner the opportunity to flippantly disregard the accident and quip “c’est la vie” indicating his $395 Michael Kors mean nothing. This impending incident adds excitement to the buttoned-down, conservative elite as the inevitable stain is like Russian roulette for the fashion conscious. That said, Czar Ivan the Terrible would have justifiably shot any man in his court for wearing white pants.

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#57 - Monocles

#57 - Monocles

Monocles
Price: Single-Eyed Vision

There are a lot of things that rich people love that are cool. There are also things that rich people like that are ridiculous. Monocles are ridiculous and only rich people or TV bad guys wear them. If you find yourself facing someone with a single lens wedged into their eye socket it is your duty to suppress your laughter and keep Monopoly man, Colonel Klink and James Bond evil genius comparisons to yourself, at least to their face.

An important distinction to be made about people that wear monocles is that they are eccentric. Not all rich people are eccentric but all eccentric people are rich. It has been said that the difference between crazy and eccentric is around a million dollars. This means you won’t see poor people wearing monocles because they have important things to buy like Cheetos, Nascar tee-shirts and velour art for the trailer. On the other hand, rich people have no idea how to spend all of their money so top hats, coat tails and monocles are a statement of class and superior upbringing.

As with everything that rich people do, you can use this to make fun of them or make this the basis of a lasting friendship. You’ll have to ask yourself if this is the type of friend you want but if you do it is easy to appeal to their eccentricity. Start by ignoring their conspiracy theories about the Carnegie family tapping their phone. Next, draw obvious parallels to important historical figures that wore a monocle like Joseph Chamberlain and Karl Marx. Ask if Rockefeller wore a monocle. If they haven’t hijacked the conversation by now, comment on how unique they are. Rich people love to be different so if you haven’t become a trusted confidant by now it is time to gracefully walk away. For your own entertainment, this is the right time to shock them into raising an eyebrow so that their eyepiece falls into their champagne flute. Do not pass go and do not collect $200!

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#56 - Trophy Wives

#56 - Trophy Wives

Trophy Wives
Price: About 4 Carats

Rich people love trophy wives. Trophy wives mark an important milestone in every overweight, middle-aged, balding, sports car driving, midlife crisis ridden wealthy male. After years of living off the proceeds of their trust fund, there comes a time in every fabulously rich man’s life that he needs to consider “trading up”. Just as you can’t drive your 1993 Ford Explorer for the rest of your life, wealthy males believe that a newer model will dramatically improve their life.

Trophy wives are easy to recognize. They are tall, slim, have perfectly manicured nails, beautifully coiffed hair and dress like they have stepped off the pages of Vogue magazine. They are between twenty-five and fifty years younger than their husbands and when you see them you will be inspired to ask the question “what the f@*k is she doing with him?” The answer is easy, he’s loaded and she vacations with the pool boy. Often spotted lunching at the Four Seasons, you may be tempted to paint all trophy wives with the same scalpel when it comes to plastic surgery but that isn’t fair. There are plenty of naturally beautiful women that won’t need work for another decade or so. By then most of their husbands will be dead.

How can you use this information to shore up your relationship with the wealthy? Two rules, don’t stare at her and keep your questions about her age and his ability to satisfy her needs to yourself. Asking these sorts of questions exposes his façade; they are akin to telling the emperor that he’s not wearing any clothes. The last thing you want to envision is a naked sugar daddy. The thought alones makes me want to scrub my hippocampus with steel wool to permanently remove that memory! Remember, don’t make any loud noises around the happy couple, that could trigger the heart attack she’s praying for!

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#55 - Scorning New Money

#55 - Scorning New Money

Scorning New Money
Price: Rich Grandparents

To most, someone with stacks of Ben Franklins is wealthy and money is money but for rich people there is ‘old money’ and there is ‘new money’. Old money smells like rich mahogany, leather bound books and has always had money while new money went to public school, didn’t have a nanny and clawed their way out of a tortuous middle class upbringing. As far as real rich people are concerned, the nouveaux riche are classless underlings and second class citizens. In fact, old money would rather spend time with their chauffeurs and gardeners than invite a pastel-wearing, Lamborghini driving, loud-mouthed, hedge fund millionaire into their home when the only thing they have in common is their bank balance.

If you intend to befriend the wealthy you must become adept at recognizing the telltale signs of generational wealth vs. the self-made man. Old money is proper, cultured and knows things like when to wear seersucker. Both groups own luxury vehicles but new money opts for aftermarket ‘spinner’ rims and bright colors. Old money would rather wear white after Labor Day than be seen in a yellow Ferrari. Essentially, old money is conservative while new money flaunts their wealth with public displays of opulence.

It is imperative that you choose sides; with whom will you ingratiate yourself? Do you opt for smoking cigars surrounded by hooker-hot blondes on the city’s most popular patios or for lounging in a private library with snifters of Brandy discussing the Fed’s monetary policy? What about ringside seats at UFC in Vegas or is the loge for Bizet’s Carmen more your style? Just as all US citizens are either Republican or anti-American, rich people are new money or old but never both; neither is wrong but they don’t agree on anything. I take that back, both are repulsed by poor people and believe white pants are stylish for men.

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#54 - Quoting Literature

#54 - Quoting Literature

Dictionary of Quotations
Price: $4.99

When speaking with the wealthy it will become immediately obvious that rich people love to quote literature. In fact, it is so common that what you call quoting, they call normal conversation. You will know you are in the presence of the upper crust when you hear someone drop the “I believe it was [insert author name] that once said…” followed by a well rehearsed line. The crowd draws closer and then nods their collective head appreciatively. This can be an annoying interruption that causes you to roll your eyes as they misquote original works and use famous prose out of context or it can become the foundation of a wonderful friendship.

When rich people speak, they must constantly overcome a perpetual guilt born of boarding schools and Ivy League educations. Quoting literature is a simple way to justify their upbringing and showcase their pedigree. Naturally, the words coming out of their mouth have meaning but the real message is that they have read the classics, they understand them, they can graciously draw on them as required and this makes them sophisticated and cultured. For the middle class this personifies itself as random trivia and their subsequent self-deprecation as ‘fountains of useless knowledge’. The rich are certainly not self-deprecating and they believe books are as necessary as water, air and scotch.

To befriend the wealthy, ensure that you have a few literary gems tucked away that you can unleash in any situation. A quote from a Greek scholar, a medieval poet-playwright and a modern author will suffice. Look to Socrates or Aristotle, Shakespeare or Dante and Shaw or Wilde as examples. Quoting one of these renowned ink-slingers will induce gleeful claps and ridiculous grins on the faces of your hosts. Men and women will be drawn to you like moths to a beacon and before you know it you will have new friends hanging on your every word. The true genius of using quotes is it is incredibly hard to argue with a dead person and you are simply using their words. Beware the perils of simply speaking to be heard though, I believe it was Plato who said “Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”

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#53 - Saving Africa

#53 - Saving Africa

Saving Africa
Price: Modest Knowledge

Rich people love to support noble causes and a favorite cause is to save Africa. Don’t confuse this with caring as it is socially important that every rich person show a compassionate side. The way that rich people save is different than the way that the rest of the world saves. Many people will give a year of their life volunteering or make monthly donations in return for a photograph and signed Christmas card. Rich people use causes as the raison d’être to host lavish fundraising galas with an annual flight to Africa for a safari and photo ops during a tour of schools or hospitals supported by their foundation. Ironically, a major reason that Africa needs help is the 19th century colonization of the continent by rich people.

Historically, the pillaging of Africa was fueled by an insatiable desire for copper, rubber, diamonds, tea and more recently oil. In return for stripping the continent of its riches, Europeans provided limited education, frowned upon mixed marriages, enlisted Africans to fight in World Wars, implemented enforced labor and planted cash crops while neglecting food crops. The result, this doesn’t make for good conversation when befriending the rich. Instead, use this as an opportunity to flatter their generosity and learn more about their benevolent nature.

Rich people like devoting their philanthropic efforts to saving the Dark Continent because it is easy to explain. Medical research or environmental work can be confusing but conjuring images of impoverished orphans in the sub-Saharan is effortless. It is also simple for the wealthy to explain how much good they are doing. Measuring the number of hospitals, patients, schools, students and textbooks is superior to scientific jargon or tonnes of CO2 eliminated. They would spend more time explaining the metric system than proving what generous people they are. Remember, it isn’t about making a difference, it’s about being recognized for the difference rich people make. Ensure you fawn over and embellish their efforts and you are well on your way to a black tie affair. If you are lucky they may invite a real live African whose life they have enriched, the wealthy are so wonderful.

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#52 - Range Rover

#52 - Range Rover

2009 Range Rover
Price: $114,300

Rich people love Range Rover. They hold a privileged place in the heart of the wealthy by coupling the social presence of a Maserati with the convenience of a minivan, which they would never drive. The spaciousness of the vehicle is an important factor in deciding to domesticate the family garage. With over 74 cubic feet of loadspace volume and a towing capacity of nearly 8,000 lbs, it is the perfect vehicle to carry one’s Hermès or Bottega purse on the front seat.

It is ironic that rich people like Range Rover because they hate to get dirty. In fact, you will find more bottles of hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes in a Range Rover than the nurses station in an Intensive Care Unit. The rich are so obsessive about sanitizing and sterilizing that if you see dust defacing one of these luxury automobiles, expect that “the help” is getting fired; you can imagine the consequences of finding mud! Knowing that Range Rovers aren’t driven for their off-road prowess and that the nanny isn’t toting the children around in the family SUV there are only two explanations; Range Rovers are an elite status symbol or the rich think they need to be safer than the lower classes! Good news, you’re both right!

Range Rover is the only vehicle to hold royal warrants at Blenheim Palace (status…check!) and they boast safety features like driver’s side knee air bag, parking aid and a radio-frequency keyset with rolling codes (safety…check!). The rich can rest assured that they couldn’t be safer driving from their home in their gated community to the yoga studio in their gated community. In the event that you encounter a rich person during a particularly inclement day, take the opportunity to comment on the poor roads and ask how they managed in such conditions? This provides them the opportunity to empathize with you and suggest that they weren’t sure their 20 inch wheels, Terrain Response System and self-adjusting suspension would get them there in one piece. Refrain from rolling your eyes and take solace knowing that they have never driven a lemon and believe that driving themselves is roughing it. After all, even their driver needs a day off once in a while.

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