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Archive for the ‘Leisure & Vacation’ Category

#90 - Sailing

#90 - Sailing

Sailing
Price: Chapped Lips & Wind Blown Hair

If you think a sloop is a rapper, feel ketch is played with a baseball and glove and believe that yawl is a greeting in the southern American states you are likely not rubbing shoulders with the Rockefellers. If however, you are unfamiliar with rap music, believe that ballpark franks are uncivilized and refuse to associate with Confederate sympathizers, you already know that standing topside in Chesapeake Bay is the perfect summer pastime. If you lean more to the latter than the former you are aware that sailing is among the stuff that rich people love

While port, starboard, stern and bow make the average person’s head spin, these are among the first words out of a trust fund baby’s mouth once the proverbial silver spoon is removed. Rich people that do not learn to sail are as out of place as an Amish couple at a swinger’s party or a West Virginian at a wedding where the bride and groom are not related, it’s awkward for everybody. That said these social anomalies are few and far between. Just as every working class American should have a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage, the rich will continue to have a blue water cruiser in every bay and a mooring ball in every harbor. More important, to the rich, than actually sailing their luxury yacht is ensuring that they have the most conspicuous slip at the marina. There is hardly any point in commissioning an 89 foot Oyster yacht if nobody knows it is yours. While size is important, sailing ships are one of the few places that a sense of humor is acceptable in wealthy circles. Witty monikers like Alimony, TARP, and Golden Parachute all convey a playfulness that only money can buy.

The question, as always, is how can sailing help you to befriend the fabulously wealthy without becoming their indentured servant dishing up caviar on the high seas while the aforementioned Alimony is heeling in 45 knot winds. While anyone with a PhD in English literature can land a crew job on a yacht off St. Maarten, it takes a special type of sycophant to ingratiate themselves and secure an aft berth on a month long cruise of the Mediterranean.  To start, learn a few key words like regatta, Maxi class and Top-Sider boat shoes. Next, learn how to tie a bowline, a cleat hitch and a reef knot and know when to use them. Finally, purchase a vintage copy of Slocum’s Sailing Alone Around The World. To bring it all together, plant yourself at the most Jimmy Buffettesque pub in the port reading this month’s copy of Yacht World circling classifieds larger than 45 feet. In no time, you’ll be talking about ports of call in the BVIs with an overweight boat owner wearing the latest Tommy Bahama linen pants and Helly Hansen waterproofs. Word of advice there’s no such thing as a starport jigpole!

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#83 - Flying First Class

#83 - Flying First Class

Flying First Class
Price: Your First Born, Their Pocket Change

Flying isn’t natural. As they say, “If God had meant you to fly he would have given you wings”, Icarus learned this the hard way. Of course, when they said this, they were probably referring to economy class where the masses are crammed into uncomfortable seats with sweaty, broad shouldered, obese individuals who want to talk to you about their 2-star vacation or persistent skin rash that is likely contagious. If this situation is the bookend to your holiday or business trip, you are probably inclined to agree that mankind is better off on terra firma. While the rich certainly prefer the comforts of a private jet, when push comes to shove, a lie-flat seat with noise-reducing headphones, personal media players, fine dining, full bar and a curtain to separate you from the plebs makes commercial flights tolerable.

For the masses that feel they have won the lottery because they managed to “score” a seat in an emergency exit row, there is a belief that the seats on the other side of the curtain are prohibitively expensive because of the roominess and luxury. Rich people know that, while 40” of seat pitch is comfortable, the real reason to sit in first class is that one does not have to associate with people that can’t afford the finer things in life. After all, the food, personalized service and comfort are table stakes in the lives of the wealthy. First class seating is one of the few places that legitimize class segregation, making it extremely attractive to the rich. Having a boarding pass that reads 2B with a flute of champagne in hand is a wonderful reminder that while money can’t buy happiness, it can help you choose your misery which does not include spending time with individuals who think a timeshare is a good investment.

Naturally, if you want to make good with the wealthy the first option is to secure yourself a seat in first class. This can be done in a few ways; buck up for the extra few thousand dollars every time you fly, try to sweet talk the ticketing agent into upgrading you on every flight or start sleeping with a flight attendant. Of course, if you could pull off the latter two options with any level of consistency, you would likely already be on the road to success and riches and able to execute on option A. As back-up,the art of conversation to kick start a discussion with your wealthy counterpart will work wonders. Give your new friend an opportunity to dazzle you with their in-flight experience. Use informed inquiry about flying Emirates or United’s P.S. service while jet setting between the left and right coast and sit back and listen. Make this work and you may never have to hear the question “fish or chicken” again. Enjoy the friendly skies!

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#78 - Opera

#78 - Opera

Opera
Price: Miniature Binoculars

Does being confined to a chair in a dark room, unable to eat, drink or speak while angry people berate you in a language you do not understand sound like an ideal night out? For most, this sounds like the worst vacation ever and one reason that visiting Afghanistan, Venezuela and Guantanamo Bay rank low on Condé Nast Traveler’s list of dream destinations. For rich people, this is called opera and the biggie sized German or Italian woman wearing the Viking helmet is a Diva rather than an interrogator.

The love of opera runs deep. Rich people love to talk about the architecture of the opera house, exotic sets, magnificent costumes, vocal size and range, Puccini, Strauss, Verdi and of course Mozart. A rich person from a good family can wax poetic for hours on the bittersweet tragedy of La Bohème, the comedic genius of Così Fan Tutte and the scandal of I Pagliacci. Given their knowledge and deep love of opera, you may wonder how the rich manage to grasp the plot and subtleties of productions conducted in a foreign language they neither speak nor understand. The simple answer is they don’t! The performance is a thinly veiled prelude to the most important part of any opera, the intermissions. Intermission is the perfect opportunity to enjoy a full meal, champagne and allow sycophants to compliment a rich person’s refinement, class, taste and sophistication. Watching this can prove more entertaining than the opera itself.

If you are more interested in life imitating art than the art itself, opera provides ample opportunities to mirror your own hopes and dreams. The annals of operatic discourse are rife with tales of sugar daddies fawning over young women and beautiful countesses falling for dashing men with ambition and optimism lacking only social status. If you are an aspiring sugar baby, male or female, your work is cut out for you. A conversational knowledge of Tristan and Isolde or The Barber of Seville that extends beyond Bugs Bunny or Seinfeld plus the ability to bat ones eyelashes should suffice. Either of these love stories may ingratiate you with your cultured courtier and with luck you’ll be enjoying lump crab cakes, roasted filet of beef and amaretto cheesecake at the Grand Tier restaurant faster than you can say “in te ravviso il sogno ch’io vorrei sempre sognar!” loosely translated as “I see in you the fulfillment of all my dreams!” Fitting isn’t it?

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#73 - Cooking Classes

#73 - Cooking Classes

Cooking Classes
Price: Trip to the Lipo Clinic

Despite the trappings of fabulous wealth, life can become predictable and eventually dull for the rich. Fortunately there is a world of exhilarating hobbies available to the wealthy that aim to inspire before the doldrums of life consume them. For most people, hobbies like skydiving, bungee jumping, scuba and rock climbing add the joie de vivre missing from their mundane existence. Not to be outdone by middle class thrill-seekers, the wealthy also like to step it up when choosing hobbies by throwing caution to the wind and selecting activities that they never thought they would do. These include driving themselves, working eight hours a day and cooking. While your evening likely includes preparing dinner, the wealthy consider this an unfathomable task that the chef, butler or, as a worst case scenario, the nanny will take care of. As such, signing up for private cooking lessons can be a thrilling way to spend a summer and an excellent excuse to visit France, Italy or perhaps Switzerland if checking on the private bank account is required.

While cooking classes are not an impenetrable bastion of the wealthy, rich people tend to have a different set of expectations for these courses. For the rich, being surrounded by world renowned chefs, fresh ingredients from around the globe, the finest kitchen implements and closely guarded cooking secrets is occasion to uncork another bottle of red while the pros create their masterpieces. Spending a month drinking in the Tuscan sun while observing a veteran of the dutch oven fold egg whites, fabricate port reductions and spawn the perfect soufflé lends the credibility required to authoritatively critique a Michelin four star restaurant and is therefore an invaluable experience. Cooking classes are a little like the Dummy’s Guide to becoming a New York Times food critic without the need for a sophisticated palate, experience or a cynical writing style. Nonetheless, such an experience will promote Bunny McCooking-Class to head of choosing restaurants and ordering lunch for her country club ladies group. Like port with chocolate, this newly developed expertise is best served with tales of Fabrizio the pool boy and his prowess in sunscreen massage.

But how does this help you? The best way to leverage this champagne fountain of knowledge is to grease the baking sheet of inquiry. You must walk the fine line between asking questions about the cooking school without broaching the subject of cooking technique; a surefire approach is to ask about the region in which the class was held. This enables them to speak about the setting without being put on the spot about class content. Bonus points if you can steer the conversation to the Le Creuset and Emile Henry cookware they outfitted the estate kitchen with afterwards. After all, their staff deserves the best when cooking for a discriminating palate like their own!

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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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#65 - Rehab

#65 - Rehab

Rehab
Price: Potential Sunburn

A few months after grey became the new black, rehab became the new grey. The only thing more fashionable than checking into rehab is friends and family hosting an intervention before checking into rehab. This is the highest compliment that rich people can pay one another as it says they care, they want you to get better and that they will probably still spend time with you when you no longer drive exotic cars into the neighbor’s pool. While rehab has become an exclusive club for the wealthy, there is a danger for the uninformed of checking into the wrong clinic only to be ostracized after spending four long weeks listening to Melanie Griffith drone on about Antonio Banderas.

Just as there is a difference between golfing at Sebonac and playing mini putt in New Jersey, rich people prefer Malibu, Antigua and Australia when powdering one’s nose culminates in a 12 step program. I should point out that rich people don’t plan to end up in rehab but if a penchant for excess has gotten out of hand there’s no point in leaving it to Nurse Ratched to wean hard partiers off of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. Rehabilitation can take place in the lap of luxury where nearly every whim is satisfied. In fact, given that guests of the clinic are no longer supplying a kilo of coke for nightly parties hosted at their LA mansion, rehab can actually pay for itself.

More important than the high cost and the goal of sobriety are the potential friendships that clinics like Promises, Cirque Lodge and Crossroads provide. For the wealthy, a stint at a chic clinic in beautiful Malibu can mean an improved circle of friends and access to the A-List that may otherwise be unattainable. Granted, the new friends will be reasonably dull for the first few months but Kate Moss and Mary-Kate Olsen are rumored regulars at top clinics so it won’t be long before their mood improves. While rehab can be a great place to meet celebrities, it is recommended that business partnerships are formed elsewhere. It would be a pity if the seed money resulted in a relapse at Beat-rice in the West Village.

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#64 - Prescription Drugs

#64 - Prescription Drugs

Prescription Drugs
Price: A Trip to Rehab

The lives of rich people can be very difficult. Suppose the maid needs a day off or the nanny wants to take the long weekend to see family and friends, what then? The trials and tribulations that disrupt wealthy lives is a long and distinguished list; choosing spas, hiring pool boys, all night parties, dressing for charity galas, and choosing the perfect pair of shoes come to mind. Fortunately there is a cure for all that life can throw at the rich, prescription drugs! 

When rich people tell you about the problems they face, it is your duty to pretend to empathize, ask how they cope and in most circles suggest that your doctor can help. This will win you major points as you have legitimized their habit and it gives them the opportunity to showcase a deep knowledge of pharmaceuticals and their grasp of the social scene. Like everything in wealthy circles, the ebb and flow of fashion plays an important role in choosing the right prescription cocktail. God forbid that they get caught swallowing the same “pick-me-up” that leads to Lindsay Lohan’s next indiscretion!

While rich people don’t approve of illicit drug use, cocaine exempted, they do believe there is a time and place for drugs backed with a doctor’s signature, even if they have to go to a podiatrist to get it. The time is whenever life’s crises arise and the place is the bathroom of any private or public establishment. These medical marvels can be relied on to get any trust fund baby to a pillowed, blissful dreamscape and often play a role in making people interesting. Never forget that there is a dark side to prescription drugs. The best rehab clinics have wait lists so the wealthy must skillfully plan their addictions lest they end up bunking with Andy Dick in Sleepy Hollow rather than tanning with Mary Kate Olsen in an exclusive Malibu resort, ahem, clinic. In the meantime, read two articles at Stuff Rich People Love and call me in the morning.

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