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Archive for the ‘Real Estate’ Category

#87 - Doormen

#87 - Doormen

Doormen
Price: Confused By Push Signs

If you are like me you grew up in a city where people learned how to do things for themselves. In places like Winnipeg it means knowing how to dress for sub-zero temperatures throughout the year. Native Australians can protect themselves from kangaroos, great white sharks and hide their offspring from wily dingoes. Meanwhile, growing up in Mumbai teaches people to effectively operate a call center or program in C+ without the need to outsource this skill to other countries. The rich, unlike those without money, don’t take kindly to having to perform tasks themselves. Menial annoyances like blow drying their hair, cleaning their home, landscaping their estates, looking after their own offspring or sculpting their good looks can all be delegated to under-appreciated professionals…opening doors is no different.

We are all familiar with the difficulties that opening doors can pose. There is the tiresome task of finding one’s keys and the mentally exhausting struggle of push vs. pull. This may be simple to you but you likely are not rich and cannot understand the challenge that ingress conventions cause. As such they look to others to solve the wealthy equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat. Interestingly, while most everyone that works for the rich is at the beck and call of those with ample Ben Franklins in their Prada wallet, the doorman is a special breed of help. Equal parts security, concierge, confident, sycophant, gossip snitch and stanch union member the doorman can make a tenant feel welcome or thoroughly ignored. While the rest of the world world bows to the fancies of the wealthy, even agreeing with a milkaholic’s whimsical dream of launching a clothing line, an NYC doorman is protected by the Local 32BJ and needs not bow to the fickleness of the upper crust. In fact, if the right of the doorman to deliver sardonic humor and unsolicited advice to their pedigreed counterparts is compromised swift strike action is threatened which throws the city into turmoil. The result of this unlikely relationship is that the doorman is privy to Upper East Side indiscretions, SoHo secrets and Tribeca trysts.

Naturally, if you would like to wriggle your way into the lives of the fabulously wealthy a doorman may represent Prometheus waiting to share the secrets of the Gods. While discretion is the better part of valor, if gossip columnists can break these vaults of secrecy surely you can find a way to eke out a sound bite or two and gain familiarity with their wealthy patrons’ likes and dislikes. Perhaps the couple in 15B enjoys the thrill of meeting new people over Manhattans and dinner at a Gramercy Tavern barstool on Tuesdays while 12D loves sailing in the Maldives and 14C has a weakness for custom oxfords from John Lobb on Madison. If you can’t turn these nuggets into sparkling conversation over grilled sturgeon there is no hope for you to impress the well-heeled. Succeed and there may be enough wind in your sails to solicit an invitation to enjoy lunch in a stunning co-op overlooking Central Park in spring. Land ho you scallywag.

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#68 - Mounting Animals

#68 - Mounting Animals

Mounting Animals
Price: Losing Vegan Friends

Rich people love to mount animals. Please dislodge your mind from the gutter, if you gasped know that taxidermy is alive and well. Hunting has always been a favorite pastime of the wealthy and as long as there are automatic weapons, ammunition and animals obliviously wandering their natural habitat, they will be shot, stuffed and hung on a wall of similarly ferocious beasts. Back when Captain Caveman, the Flintstones and a young Larry King first roamed the earth, hunting was a necessary and effective means to feed the tribe. Centuries later it evolved into feeding one’s ego. For the rich, a room full of hunting trophies is a sign that a man’s man is among you. In such a setting, the scent of rich leather, mahogany and testosterone is intended to impress the toughest of men and seduce the most virtuous of young vixens.

At the turn of the nineteenth century, these public displays of masculinity may have been enough to bring a young woman to her knees but today woman are more likely to hold a membership in Greenpeace than be green with envy over these feats of manhood. Nonetheless, lions and tigers and bears (oh my) continue to adorn the walnut paneled walls of estates the world over. The simple explanation, the rich are oblivious to shifting social norms and as such believe that donning a pith helmet to tag and bag a rhinoceros is all in a good day’s fun. Furthermore, their hunting junkets are a form of financial aid intended to prop up the local gin and tonic trade and keep the natives from getting restless.

Your distaste for this archaic tradition could still help you to score big. Social gatherings can prove the perfect arena to outwit your host, the cagey hunter. Examine your surroundings and determine if there is division in the crowd. If you are lucky, a beautiful heiress is in your midst looking for a distraction from the cookie cutter guests. The trophy room can act as the ideal conversation starter to distinguish you from the “yes men” attentively listening to epic tales about Serengeti safaris. Mentioning that a skilled taxidermist can make a squirrel look threatening to the young gazelle could prove the difference between an evening among old men with pipes and a romantic tour of her well-manicured garden. That said, do not let your guard down in this setting, you never know when a cougar is in your midst…pad, pad, pounce and it is lights out!

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#63 - Pool Boys

#63 - Pool Boys

Pool Boys
Price: Frequent Visitors

Everyone knows that rich people love trophy wives and private nurses. These wealthy playthings only cater to half the world’s wealth and ignore the indulgences of the fairer sex. Unlike men who believe that a pleasurable pastime is chasing a small white ball across acres of manicured grass, women have a much more sensible view of how to spend a hot summer day; lounging around a pool with their favorite accoutrement, the pool boy.

To the untrained bystander, it may appear that cabana boys are little more than well oiled, finely chiseled pieces of tanned eye candy but that is only half the story. The fact of the matter is that these young men perform the duty of ensuring that the woman of the house and her circle of close friends want for nothing as they enjoy the spoils of the good life. While it may seem that these brawny boy toys are a dime a dozen it is demanding work that requires a plethora of skills to keep the misses happy. One must obviously be in top physical condition, exhibit blender mastery, be versed in SPF selection, show an aptitude in umbrella placement, have an excellent grasp of chemistry to ensure the pH level in the pool is a stable seven point two…all while wearing a uniform that would make an Olympic swimmer blush.

The question that remains, how does this help you make friends with the wealthy? If you are blessed with the body of a Greek God, the answer is simple, develop your sunscreen application prowess. If this isn’t the case, you should figure out how to develop the body of a Greek God regardless of your Hawaiian Tropic technique. Of course, if you were born a woman the solution is simpler; introduce a man with a perfect smile and pectorals like an Abercrombie model to the wealthiest woman you know and tag along for the frivolity. At the very least you’ll enjoy a summer of slushy drinks, terrific scenery and overdose on Vitamin D. Just remember, bring your sunglasses as it is gauche to stare!

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#59 - Being Condescending

#59 - Being Condescending

Being Condescending
Price: Nobody Likes You

Imagine being engaged in conversation with a relative stranger. You mention that you are taking a trip or going back to school. Now imagine that the person you are speaking with tells you they only stay at 5 star resorts, never fly economy or that unless you are attending Harvard you’ll be wasting your time. Given that you are staying at a Holiday Inn, travelling by bus and attending state you are likely thinking, “what a dick!” You aren’t wrong; rich people are condescending!

For most people a conversation like this is a disaster but like rich people say, when life gives you lemons have your chef make lemonade. A common response to condescending rich people is to blush and mumble about how nice that sounds. At the other end of the etiquette spectrum is abruptly ending the conversation with a few choice four letter words. While both are options, it is much more fun to play the one-upmanship game. Here’s how it works; they say 5 star, you say 5 diamond. They say Harvard, you prefer the London School of Economics. They won’t fly economy, trump first class by asking if they own a private jet. While this doesn’t immediately seem like a suitable tactic to forge friendships you will be surprised how effective piquing their interest can be.

A little mystery can go a long way when engaging in one-upping, so tread softly. You will want to verse yourself in the finer things in life. Conversational knowledge of Bugatti automobiles, French Chateaus, armored vehicles and private islands will provide ample material for sparring with your conceited adversary. An important point to remember, never lie about partaking in such luxuries. Alluding to enjoying the lifestyle is much more effective and keeps the sharks from smelling weakness. While you don’t want to be known as the jackass that fabricates stories about climbing Everest without oxygen or setting free dive depth records, it is perfectly acceptable to showcase your knowledge of pampered wealth. Finally, this knowledge is like achieving a black belt in martial arts; only use it in self-defense. With a little training you will be as lethal as Bruce Lee and as debonair as James Bond.

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#44 - Pretending To Empathize

#44 - Pretending To Empathize

Pretending To Empathize
Price: Loss of Self Awareness

Rich people love to empathize with anyone in earshot. The fact is they have no experience with everyday problems but will pretend to care because it is the proper thing to do. A rich person’s idea of empathy is taking your problem and relating it to a situation they were once in. The difficulty is, if you aren’t rich, there is no common ground between you and your wealthy counterpart. The result, you are forced to endure a patronizing comparison of situations while nodding your head appreciatively.

While the wealthy mean well, it is tough to relate to trivial concerns like jobs, careers, commuting, down payments, rent, mortgages, flying economy, balancing a family with a fulltime job and a paltry two weeks of vacation a year. Despite these challenges, the rich make every effort to allay your concerns by empathizing with you. Take renting or buying a house as an example. Inadvertently mentioning that you are house shopping can be a painful misstep around the rich. You will be greeted with a sympathetic “don’t even bother, there’s simply nothing decent available in this city”. While they think you are sharing a moment, what they are really saying is they would never consider dwellings in your price range to be fit for human life. It remains a toss-up as to whether they realize a 4.5 million dollar estate isn’t a starter home. Similarly, wealthy new moms will happily commiserate with other mothers by recommending to all attendees of their post-natal yoga class that a night nanny is a must if they ever expect to get any sleep. Great advice and highly recommended if you have the means.

At the end of the day, this is a terrific opportunity to forge a stronger relationship with rich people. Not only do they love to feign empathy, the rich love to offer advice. When faced with a situation where they are clearly out of their depth, take it upon yourself to ask genuine questions about what they would do. Primarily, this means a stream of entertaining suggestions that you could never actually afford to carry out. More importantly, it allows the privileged to share their wealth of experience regardless of how irrelevant that experience is. This makes them feel good about helping and you will have some fantastic stories to share with your friends. Finally, the rich don’t carry change so it is best if you pay for their cappuccino while they dole out their wisdom, it really is the least you can do.

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#34 - Infinity Pools

#34 - Infinity Pools

Infinity Pools
Price: $100,000

Rich people love homes with spectacular views. After spending millions on a dwelling that they may inhabit for as little as a few weeks a year, it is a shame to ruin the splendor and magnificence of the horizon with an unsightly pool edge. Imagine if you will, the distraction that concrete or natural stone could pose when staring across the turquoise seas of the Caribbean, it’s enough to ruin the weekend; it’s like wearing polyester underwear, going to Kansas or flying economy class. Fortunately, architects and pool designers the world over joined forces and collectively tackled this global problem. The result; they gave the world the infinity edge pool. This gift means the wealthy will never again have to tolerate the interruption of their views and can get back to amassing wealth and talking about amassing wealth.

The infinity pool has emerged as a dominant feature of luxury homes and resorts in every corner of the globe. Originally found in villas with spectacular ocean views and hilltop homes overlooking the city below, the infinity pool is now featured in jungles, mountain resorts, rain forests and even golf courses. The most interesting part of the infinity pool is that you will rarely see someone actually use it. Nothing illustrates how bloated you have become after years of Foie Gras and Kobe beef like displacing 25 gallons of water over the side of a large pool.

For many people, the only time they will see an infinity pool is in a photograph or on the television. The simple explanation, rich people don’t do cannonballs while the lower classes believe this is an appropriate baptism for any body of water regardless of size and occasion. Don’t believe it, search YouTube for ‘cannonball pool’ and results include videos of naked cannonballs, flaming cannonballs, cannonball contests, cannonballs from the roof, cannonballs from the wall, etc. Let me put it this way, you will go through a lot of pages before you find a cannonball in The Hamptons. The math is, infinity pool plus cannonball equals funny but you will never get invited back so enjoy it while you can. Besides, nothing ruins a good umbrella drink like the sight of a grown man hurtling through the air!

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#30 - Gated Driveways

#30 - Gated Driveways

Hydraulic Wrought Iron Gate
Price: $4,950

Rich people love large, extravagant homes that are shielded from the public. Long winding driveways nestled in old growth forest and patrolled by trained protection dogs may seem sufficient to keep commoners at bay, but the rich really like their privacy. For this reason, rich people love gated driveways. They keep the curious off the lawn and, when electrified, can be terribly entertaining. While the rich won’t use enough current to stun their nosey intruders, cameras are often installed simply to watch people hop back and forth while holding their semi-charred hands.

Drive through any well-to-do neighborhood, if you can make it past the guard house, and you will see gates crafted in every conceivable shape, size, design and material. What you will discover; much like pets look like owners, gates reflect the personality of the estate residents. This is where you can, please pardon the pun, jumpstart your relationship with the wealthy. Upon entry to their magnificent home take note of the type of gate and tailor your conversation and compliments to the distinct elements of their entrance. Some will be lavishly adorned with gold leaf, others traditional wrought iron while a few reflect a modernity that matches your host’s contemporary lifestyle; be careful if the modernists ask you to leave your keys in a bowl at the front door! Regardless, modesty is not your friend when recognizing their gracious style…err on the side of excessive. On the other hand, comparing their gate to a neighbor’s is a definite faux pas. It’s like saying “your wife is pretty but did you see Alistair’s wife by the pool last week…wow!” If you aren’t sure how to answer the question “do I look fat in these pants”, you may want to practice your gate etiquette beforehand.

Feel that compliments are too transparent? You can always appeal to the cerebral side of your host. For some, the history of gates is fascinating. If your host is a Harvard educated PhD in 3rd century Roman symbology they likely don’t have a lavish home, but I will humor the idea. Discuss that gates likely originated in concert with defensive walls. Wax poetic about the earliest town gates dating back to the Early Bronze Age or about the discovery of a two chambered gate at the temple in Ein Gedi from 4,500 BC. If this doesn’t cause their cerebellum to throb you have no chance of a lasting friendship. A last word on gates; as you are trying to impress your host, can the ‘a doctor, a lawyer and a priest are at the Pearly Gates’ jokes, they’ve heard them all from people that thought they were equally clever!

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