The rich really are different. Primarily, as the saying goes, because they have more money. In some cases, a whole lot more money.
I was talking to someone yesterday about some big investment house that has a few select private clients, and to be one of these private clients you have to have at least like half a billion dollars in assets. Which means that these people have roughly (very roughly) a thousand times as much in the way of monetary assets as we do.
So when we stop in the car on the way somewhere to like get gas, and three people are thirsty and I spend $3.75 on some water and lemonade and stuff, that's like, to those private clients of that big investment house, like stopping in the yacht or the motorcade or something, and three people are hungry, so someone gets out and spends $3,750 on...
And here the analogy rather breaks down. On some nice little diamonds? But if they buy nice little diamonds as often as I buy bottles of water, they're going to have a silly number of diamonds. Maybe I'm showing my naiveté by saying that (perhaps there are uses for diamonds that my mind cannot conceive); but in any case there aren't really any consumables that one can casually stop and buy $3,750 of on a whim.
Or well, maybe there are. Maybe if the yacht's getting near some port and three people are hungry, someone can make a quick phone call and arrange for $3,750 worth of gourmet meals cooked by one of the region's finest chefs driven in on an emergency basis for the evening, served by attractive young persons with matching haircolors, and accompanied by an amusing little wine at a few hundred dollars the bottle.
That might work.
Goin' back, goin' back,
to the best darn place of all...
So anyway! The reason that I was talking to people about investment firms and generally thinking about unreasonable wealth was that we went (back) to Princeton this weekend for my (yikes!) Twenty-Fifth Reunion.
The little daughter stayed home because she had a Standardized Test to take and a best friend's Sweet Sixteen party to go to (and we were sad because it would have been really nice to have her along), but M and the little boy and I, and M's sister and her husband and two kids, had a good time marching in the P-rade ("P-rade"), and seeing People from the Past, and watching a really amazing (really really amazing) fireworks display (by what is apparently one of the Top Fireworks Outfits), and getting rained on and slogging through the mud and stuff.
Princeton seems to have gotten much bigger, and much richer and classier, since we went there. There are scads of new buildings in the south part of campus, and everything seems shinier and better equipped and less chipped and scruffy than when I was there. (And I don't think it's just that they gussied up for reunions, 'cause it wasn't just superficial gussying up.)
Even good old Quadrangle Club has gotten bigger and snazzier since 1981. There are of course computers and big video game screens and consoles scattered around, but that's expected. The eating area is bigger, and there's a huge sandbox with a volleyball net in it, and the pool tables look much better maintained. There's also extra quantities of wood paneling and nice relatively unblemished wooden tables.
I talked to some adorable undergrads who were sitting around in one of the upstairs rooms working on a jigsaw puzzle, and I told them about the time I'd been sitting around in the next room over talking to Debbie Cymbalista about her ongoing existential crisis while she played with a machete, and how she'd more or less unexpectedly chopped the machete into the edge of the table making a big nick in it, but the table was relatively beaten up anyway and it didn't really show.
Doesn't look like anyone's done anything like that to these tables, I said. Yeah, one of them said, machetes are frowned upon in the club these days.
Machetes frowned upon; heh! What is this younger generation coming to?
Everyone also talked about how much harder it is to get into Princeton these days, and how most of us probably wouldn't make the cut anymore. This sort of scares me vis a vis the little daughter, who is marvelous and brilliant and creative and a great dancer and all, but who isn't into Doing Whatever It'll Take To Impress The Admissions Committee sorts of things, and who does rather want to go to Princeton. We'll hope the admissions committee is extremely insightful, and/or that having two alumni parents can slightly offset not having been the president of every extracurricular activity in sight.
I've been encouraging her (for my own vicarious reasons) to look outside the traditional College and Marriage and Career In the Obvious Places life-paths (tramp-steamers to Europe, struggling dancer living in a garret in Bohemia, etc) but so far it doesn't really seem to have taken...