Saturday, December 3, 2016

Luxury Gifts for the Rich and Super Rich!

One of the most vexing problems that pops us every year around this time is what kind of holiday gift do we buy for our rich friends - those who already have everything, and need nothing? As head of household and personal assistant to my employer, this falls on my shoulders as well, every damned year. But if you have a couple of minutes I can share with you how we handle things around here.    

First off, you can always resort to the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog, filled with exquisite expensive gifts that appeal to many. This is especially useful for our new-rich friends who are still in the process of accumulating their accoutrements, and probably don't mind if they're receiving the same kind of gifts that thousands of other new rich might also be receiving.

But for the discerning super rich (who already have everything in the NM Catalog) things are a bit more tricky. For these folk you'll need to be looking for specialty items - unique, perhaps hand-crafted, and definitely one-of-a-kind.

To this end, you might take a leisurely stroll through the secretive London Silver Vaults, as recommended by our friend Grant Harrold the Royal Butler, to find just the right thing for your picky rich friends.

You might also turn to highly-specialized websites like Von Urbanovsky - a well-famed and impassioned designer redefining luxury, who believes in the power of ancient craftsmanship - who creates and manufactures exquisite gifts, jewelry and objet d'artes by pure inspiration. (And the CEO Joseph Reisz is directly available to discuss prices.)

On the other hand, and on a lighter/cheaper note, if you know your rich friend's interest in high-tech gadgets, there's always Hammacher Schlemmer. It's not about money here - just fun, play and amusement for the latest stuff that's out there.

Or even more frivolous, how about this? An exquisite box of FIVE potato chips for $56! That's like $11 per chip! Check out St. Eriks if you think I'm kidding! (How many boxes do you think it would it take to get through a football game?)

Personally I always recommend booze for our rich friends, as an easy way out. But this can be tricky as well. Don't give wine unless you're familiar with the recipient's preference in varietals. Otherwise it will wind up in in the kitchen, in Chef's hands, to be used for cooking. Brandy is a better choice. I always recommend a nice cognac from the Grand Champagne region in France - roughly $5.000 to $25,000 per bottle. No one, no matter how rich could resist a gift like this,

I hope this post has been helpful, if not completely absurd! But buying gifts for the rich always poses huge headaches. Seriously, fortunes can climb or fall over a simple faux pas in this area.

Here's hoping your holiday shopping is going along smoothly, without any of this nonsense!


Saturday, November 19, 2016

How Rich People Celebrate Thanksgiving!

Well crap, the election in America has absorbed all our attention for the last many months, but suddenly there's Christmas decorations all over the place and here we are with Thanksgiving right on top of us! There'll be friends popping in for the feast of course - but alarmingly there'll also be family showing up for an unpredictable amount of time. God have mercy!

To sort this all out, if you have a couple of minutes let me try to describe the differences between how the super rich celebrate the holiday compared to all the rest of us peasants.

PARTY STYLES: First and foremost, if this is a big event for friends and associates, did you send out Save-the-Date notices followed by a formal invitation for the Thanksgiving feast? Do you have an events planner to coordinate everything? A caterer to make all the food and a bartender to serve up the libations? Do you have Valet Parkers engaged at your front door? Did your groundskeepers properly light up your runway and helicopter landing pad, according to FAA guidelines?  And last but hardly least, have you hired security guards to surround your house and protect all the diamonds, pearls and haute couture furs coming through your front door, not to mention all the luxury cars parked outside? If our answer is "No" to any of the above questions, then we're quite possibly in the peasant class.

MENUS: Yes, my observation is that the rich usually have a traditional turkey on the table. But there might also be other exotic fowl as well, such as Egyptian pheasant under glass, or bacon-wrapped grilled quail. To the traditional turkey-dressing and green-bean casserole, add some $2,500/ per pound truffles and a couple of pounds of Almas Caviar (roughly $25,000) and you've got a nice spread for your fancy friends. Is this similar to your table? If not, then I'm afraid we're peasants without pheasants.

GUESTS: Do your over-night Thanksgiving guests have their own private bedrooms, complete with marble bathtubs, cable TV, internet connectivity, and an Upstairs Maid to tidy up their mess? Or, are your guests sleeping on pull-out sofas, palates on the floor, or perhaps in your four-wheel camper outside? If so, then we're in danger of being considered not just peasants but very near Trailer Park trash as well.

BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING: While many of us might be standing on line at retail stores and slugging it out for Black Friday bargains, I assure you the super-rich will be sipping Mimosas on their yachts or sunning themselves on a Caribbean beach somewhere. When it comes to what they want, cost is not even the slightest consideration. Of course, if they do want bargain prices for some of the perfunctory gifts they have to give to business associates and the like, then they'll send out their Personal Assistant, Personal Shopper, or some idiot like me to stand on the long lines.

So that's about it. I hope this hasn't been irritating, but the divide between the rich and all the rest of us is so very enormous. Personally I'd rather be sleeping on a pull-out sofa or a palate, surrounded by loving family and friends, than by an impersonal Upstairs Maid who wishes you'd get out as soon as possible, or perhaps never having shown up in the first place. :)

Best wishes to all for a blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween Costumes for the Rich!

While quietly minding my own business today, out of the blue a FedEx package arrived from a fairly-renowned costume shop in Hollywood.


It was addressed to my ancient old employer of course. But as his trusted, loyal and discreet assistant, I took it upon myself to open it - along with Ester the upstairs maid who has a similar snoopy curiosity as to what is going on around here from day to day.

Inside the box there was a cape, a tweed cap, and a pipe. And while I'm sure you've already guessed it, apparently the old buzzard is going to a Halloween party this year dressed as Sherlock Holmes!

We weren't aware that he'd received any invitations this year for Halloween, but somehow the costume seems to suit his self image as an intelligent gentleman - as opposed to going as Dracula which would better reflect his true nature and demeanor toward others.

My spy confidant at the office, who has access to his weekly calendar, doesn't know what party he's going to either. She said there's a note for Saturday October 29 that only says "Angela 8:00pm". Well, just who the heck is Angela? A name we've not heard around here before, but fear the worst - another new girlfriend showing up? Ugh!

About this time last year I wrote about the elegant costumes and parties the former Missus used to throw around here in a post entitled Halloween Parties for the Rich - so I'll not bore you with all that again.

But there was this one year when she wanted to dress up as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany's, complete with black evening gloves and a rare silver-and-gemstone cigarette holder. I tried to dissuade her, explaining that it's mostly Drag Queens who dress up like Holly. But she was not deterred, and was actually the hit of the evening. The major difference being that Holly's pearl and diamond necklace was merely costume jewelry.

Unlike the quiet rich however, Hollywood celebs are somewhat more flashy and splashy in their Halloween attire, to say the least. If you're looking for costume inspiration, here's a look at fifty-five celebrities that made the pages of Harper's Bazaar - "From sultry to spooky" and all done up for "Trick-or-Treating".

As always, thanks for stopping by this evening.

I hope you have a fun and wonderful Halloween weekend! But beware, the onslaught of Christmas begins the very day after!


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Autumn 2016!

After our long awaited summer vacations, leisurely trips to the beach and backyard cookouts with family and friends, it's time to put the suntan lotion aside I guess, buck up, and get ready for autumn. What's about to hit us is not unlike a tsunami!

It's a crazy busy time of year for everyone; football games and tail-gate parties, Halloween coming up next month, followed quite rapidly by Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's celebrations! Which involves all kinds of running around, making preparations, and bracing ourselves for the flood of friends and family popping in and out - some of whom don't pop out quite as quickly as they pop in, do they?

For the rich, in addition to all this madness it's also the high social season for charity balls, fund raising events, and grand galas just to celebrate their wealth together and show off their latest haute couture, diamonds and fancy new cars - all squeezed into the already busy holiday calendar. But unlike most of us, the rich have a cadre of helpers to handle the work load; Personal Assistants, Personal Shoppers, Party Planners, caterers, and of course their own house staff and chauffeurs to tie up all the loose ends.

For those of us in service to the rich, this time of year is up there with the most maximum stress God ever created for an employee. I'm in this category of course, and basically regard myself as an errand boy throughout the whole season. But I'll also have to say it's the most fun and challenging time of the year, stressing our social and creative skills along with our patience. I both dread it and look forward to it, and the knot in my stomach starts to tighten up along about now, the first day of autumn.

This year however (and I just found this out today) my employer will be away for almost the entire month of December! What?

My spy confidant at the office told me the old man and some of his cronies are doing the grand tour of London, Paris, and Rome, plus a two-week luxury river cruise throughout the Continent! Absolutely awesome! Cracking a bottle of champagne as we speak!

No cocktail parties, no charity events, no pompous inflated egos showing up during December? Amazing! But best of all, she told me not to bother with the annual Christmas party for the office staff this year - which is as boring to them as it is to me and all the house staff here. She said that instead of coming here she'll book us into a high-dollar restaurant one evening in December - on the old man's ticket of course, Yes!

Of course we still have greeting cards to get out. But I already started that process back in the summer with our card designer. In early October I'll be delivering them to the calligrapher for addressing - although the office hasn't sent me a finalized list yet. Whatever it is, it's greatly diminished in number since the frazzling divorce a couple of years back.

It's also my task to send out gifts to our most vital contractors, and to our hateful neighbors. But this is easily dismissed by calling up our trusted liaison at Harry and David. Specializing in professional gifts, they have food and wine baskets in a wide range of prices, and therefore suggestive of  the value placed on the recipient. Our contractors will get the full treatment, but I'm afraid to say our dreadful neighbors will get one step above bupkis. In any case, you can't go wrong with these guys. Just tell them what you want to spend, give them an address, and that's that.

Needless to say the house staff and I are ecstatic about Christmas this year! There'll by lots of time off for them of course, and chef will probably go off on a month-long binge. I'll still have house sitting / dog sitting to do of course, but to be free of my cranky old employer allows plenty of time to sleep in every day - and for family and friends to pile into the guest rooms.

As I'm writing this I realize it's only September, right? But I'm thinking Christmas is already lurking in the back of our minds, whether we want to admit it or not.

Thanks for dropping in this evening, and Happy Autumn!


Thursday, September 8, 2016

Experiential Travel For The Rich!

With Labor Day having come and gone, summer vacations and time off from work has come and gone as well, at least for most of us. Our pitiful one-or-two-week paid vacations have slipped into history and it's time now to settle in for autumn and the grisly holidays ahead.

But not so for the rich. As you might imagine, they're free to come and go as they please - any time they wish, any time of the year. In fact, the very word "vacation" is not really in their vocabulary. For them it's called a jaunt, a journey, an exploration, or an adventure. With their private jets and pilots on retainer standing by, this could occur within moments from when the mood strikes. "Lets go to Paris for dinner!"

Our friend Ben down in Australia recently told me one of the executives in his corporation asked if he'd be up for a snow-skiing trip to Iran. Not entirely enthralled by the idea, he asked me if this is the kind of unusual thing rich people do for new experiences and thrills. Which brought up the whole idea and relatively new topic of Experiential Travel, which you may have heard of.

Bear with me for a moment, but there's actually two branches of this concept. Back around 1985 Experiential Travel was also known as Immersion Travel. Let's say instead of doing the grand tour of London, Paris, Madrid and Rome in two short weeks, you spend what precious time you have in one spot - getting to know the culture, the language, history, politics and traditions of that one particular place - and perhaps making steadfast friends along the way.

Then around 2012 the term Experiential Travel was seized upon by travel agents, luxury hotels and concierges worldwide who cater to the rich and super rich - promising new experiences, adventures, sights unseen, and of course tempting cuisines at any remote spot on the globe rich people might want to explore. In fact our friend Lorre White, widely known as the Luxury Guru in the media, stated that "Experiential Travel is the fastest growing segment of the business and leisure travel world."  Here's a link to her fascinating article.

Back when the British Empire ruled half the world, rich and elegant tourists with their Louis Vuitton steamer trunks would depart London on luxury steamer ships or the stylish Orient Express railway to visit Asia, Africa, Egypt, India and Hong Kong to explore the worlds they had conquered. Was this merely idle tourism or Experiential Travel?

As a young student traveling in Europe all I could really afford was visiting one country at a time. I had no idea it was called Immersion Travel, much less Experiential. But what I can tell you is that those visits which could last for weeks or months have generated friendships that sustain my whole life. And those same friends still visit me here in America to this day.

The thing is, you don't have to be rich or have a private jet to explore this beautiful world we live in. Just get out there and do it, no matter what kind of shoestring budget you're dealing with. Just go! Live, learn, and enjoy! As Saint Augustine said, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page".

Thanks for dropping in this evening and happy autumn!


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Do Billionaire's Have Morals?

In various ways I've been asked this question many times over the years, since beginning this blog back in 2011. Try as I may to figure it all out, the best answer I can come up with is that they seem to make up their own morals as they go along, depending on their positions, power, and adventures at the moment.

We have wonderful examples of the super rich being generous with their employees, lifting them up along the way to their mutual success, and contributing untold amounts of money to charities, endowments for the arts, and funding entire wings for hospitals and universities. On the other hand, some of them have a selfish malignant narcissism that defies all comprehension - making them difficult to be around, if not a total menace to everyone in their paths.

To narrow this down, I'm afraid to report my employer is probably among the latter. I've written several posts about all the women streaming in and out of this house and how it keeps our lives in disruption. Add to that, for the last three nights a new woman has shown up here that none of us have ever seen before! She comes late in the evening and disappears before the morning house staff arrives - which doesn't bode well.

If you recall, in a post entitled Trollop Tales: Part 3 back in June, I wrote about the new girlfriend in our lives who had been around for several months. We in the house staff were growing to understand her; we had gone from rejecting to accepting her. In fact, we had even given her more respectful and elevated titles from The Trollop, to The Woman, and then to The Current Girlfriend.

Then she and the Mister went off on a weekend vacation in his private jet, along with four other guests to the Bahamas. But something must have happened that mysterious weekend which I've yet to unravel. Suddenly she disappeared. As with women who have disappeared in the past, I naively thought perhaps she was on her own private summer vacation with family and friends and would be back soon.

But after three weeks without seeing hide nor hair of her, suddenly this new woman shows up! And the pharmacy dropped off a new prescription of Viagra today. So I guess we're in for a whole new episode.

I haven't seen this new one face to face yet, only from my garage apartment window when she arrives. But she appears quite young - let's say late thirties, compared to the forty-and-fifty year olds of the former ladies who show up here. All compared to my employer being near the age of Methuselah.

She (like all his wives and girlfriends) is tall, quite thin, with long blond hair. For him it seems to be more about fulfilling his narcissistic self image than seriously engaging romantically with anyone. Seemingly his need is to appear in public with an attractive woman on his arm, no matter who it is and interchangeable as they may be.

Indeed, there's a framed photo of himself as a handsome young soccer champ, prominently displayed in his boudoir. As you may have already guessed, standing beside him and happily smiling is a tall slender blond.

So once again it's up to us the staff to adjust. After all, he's the one who writes our paychecks, isn't he? It's not our place to judge, or apply our middle-class values and moralities to those who think of themselves as being above the rules.

What's up to us is to tolerate and accommodate whatever cheeky tramp or trollop that shows up here. Any one of them, God forbid, could become the future Mistress of the house!

Hope your summer is going well, and thanks for dropping in this evening,


Friday, July 15, 2016

House Staff Abuse Among the Rich!

As unthinkable as it may be, we see it all the time in the legitimate press and trashy tabloid papers about how certain celebrities, political figures, and other rich types are occasionally accused of mistreating the very people who take care of them.

It's no big secret on the international stage that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife was recently accused and convicted of abusing her household staff. Here's a link to the embarrassing article in the BBC news, to cite one unpleasant example.

I've received many inquiries on this topic, but to tell you the truth it's difficult to write about. Things are so complicated in the lives of the super rich. They live in their own isolated world, and have such highly-specialized needs.

In the corporate world where everyone is on their best behavior forty hours a week, the very thought of verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical abuse is forbidden and met with ferocious law suits if any such transgressions occur, right?

But in the intimacy of a private home, things are substantially different. Unlike at the office where everyone's behaving properly, at home we in the house staff see our employers at their very worst and crabby moments, from when they fist wake up in the morning until they finally crawl into bed at night. No one can expect them to be all smiles and best manners twenty-four hours a day. We understand this, and have a high tolerance for bad moods and disrespectful behavior - or else we couldn't handle this kind of job. It's something akin to being part of a grumpy quarreling family - which usually means nothing and smooths out during the day.

However, there comes a point when some employers might take out their bad moods on their household staff in more troublesome ways. We're easy targets after all, and get it all the time. Lack of appreciation or gratitude for all that's being done for them comes with the territory of course, and we all know how to deal with it.

But when it comes to verbal insults, demeaning behavior, physical or sexual abuse, that crosses the line and becomes the rightful territory of lawyers and lawsuits. The sad part being that many rich people in America hire illegal immigrants, undocumented workers, at low wages to run their homes - desperate people who are afraid to bring charges against them for whatever abuse they might suffer, for fear of being deported.

House staff jobs fill legitimate needs, just as office staff are indispensable in running a corporation. There should really be no discrepancy between the two fields in just how much we should tolerate abuse. Luckily there are some internal controls. We don't give up our civil rights because we work in a private home, and most legitimate house-staffing agencies will blackball any employer who's accused of abuse and will not send future applicants into that environment.

While celebrities abusing their house staff make BIG SPLASHY HEADLINES in the tabloids, the good news is that the vast majority of rich people are respectful and appreciative toward those who are seeing after their needs. Or else this occupation would not and could not exist.

Thanks for stopping in this evening, I hope this shed some light.


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Good Manners Vs. Proper Etiquette!

There seems to be a common misconception that rich people are blessed with both good manners and proper etiquette that have propelled them to the top of high society. We put them on a pedestal, sometimes trying to emulate their behaviors, like role models in our own struggles toward financial gain and social acceptance.

However, and not to burst bubbles in any way, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Especially in this current climate of the new rich popping up by the thousands all over the globe, most of whom barely know their butts from a hole in the ground! And having politely said that, before going further it's best to look at definitions:

Proper etiquette is simply a set of rules and recommendations to guide us through social situations - things like setting a proper table, sending out invitations and thank-you notes, international protocol on how to greet royalty, other dignitaries, and how to organize them in a reception line. Plus endless rules about personal comportment -  like how to walk, how to sit, how to eat, and what conversation is allowed at the dinner table. This is not innate information that any of us are born with. It's a thing that has to be learned along the way from parental guidance, from etiquette schools, or simply self-taught from observations of how others do things. What's more (and disturbingly so) is that etiquette varies from country to country all over the world. In America at least we have voluminous books to rely upon, like Emily Post and Amy Vanderbilt - who mostly base their principles on proper British etiquette.

Having good manners on the other hand is something that stems from the soul. It has to do with empathy, being aware of other people around you, being courteous and respectful, putting others before yourself - politeness based on the Golden Rule "Do Unto Others". There's a few specific guidelines we're all familiar with, like not slamming a door in someone's face, helping old ladies cross the street, or giving your seat to elders on the bus. But if you don't already have this compassionate attitude toward others in your soul, then good luck with learning it from a book.

There's an urban myth variously attributed to Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and several others, wherein a guest at a formal dinner sipped water from her finger bowl. The hostess, whoever it might have been, immediately picked up and sipped from her own finger bowl so her guest wouldn't be embarrassed. The take away from this charming legend, of course, is simply that good manners should triumph over proper etiquette.

Most certainly it's nice to be possessed with both manners and proper etiquette at the same time. But having to choose, good manners are decidedly priority. The specific rules of etiquette can and will fall into place along the way, if and when needed.

For the past year I've been following The Royal Butler's blog. Grant Harrold, formerly in service to British royals and now a well know commentator and instructor, gives us points on both manners and etiquette in a most delightful and humorous sort of way. (He's also on Twitter @TheRoyalButler)  So if you need to brush up, or have recently become rich, this would be a good starting point to pull it all together.

As always, thanks for dropping in this evening. I hope your summer is going along nicely.


Thursday, June 2, 2016

Trollop Tales: Part 3

Actually, I didn't start out to write a trilogy about trollops. However some things have developed that I think you should know about. First, and to set the stage, I want to tell you something rather amusing that happened today.

When I got back from the gym in the late afternoon there was a Chevrolet parked right up close to the front door. Of course I've seen Fords and Chevy's in the employee and contractors' parking area, but never at the main entrance to the residence! Naturally my first thought was that the house was being robbed! So from the glove box I grabbed my pistol and rushed inside.

Hearing laughter from the reception hall I discovered the Trollop standing behind the bar, serving beer to two of her buddies. And when her girlfriends saw me they let out little yelps - I suppose at my appalling appearance in sweaty gym clothes, or do you think the hand gun had something to do with it? In any case I politely excused myself; "Good evening ladies," and quickly withdrew from the scene.

The fact that the Trollop feels so comfortable to come to the house when the Mister isn't here, let alone bring her friends, is something new and abysmal to me. I immediately called my spy confidant at the corporation to blow off steam. But she advised me to tread lightly (and here's the big news of the day) that the Trollop has been issued a credit card - a Visa with a $10,000 max - which is double what the last few girlfriends have been given.

While the card was issued ten days ago, my confidant also told me the only charges she's made to date are for a few items from Victoria Secret lingerie - if that paints a picture. But it's been my experience that her card will be maxed out in no time, and we can't wait to see her list of purchases.

Now the other big thing tonight, this new woman is apparently the only one the Mister is seeing these days, so at least we don't have to play musical sheets and air out the rooms in between tell-tale perfumes.

It's up to me now to readjust my attitude I guess. Ester, the upstairs maid, has already started calling her The Woman, instead of The Trollop. I've been tossing it around. The New Girlfriend is way too confusing after so many. The Latest Girlfriend could work. But I think in future I'll refer to the Trollop as the Current Girlfriend. That way none of us will be confused.

The sad news is that I doubt there's going to be any elegant high society sit-down dinners in the near future, which has always been fun around here despite the work involved. Chef is already gearing up for grilled hamburgers, Sloppy Joe's, or chili and chips. Gone are the days when we had to order caviar or lobster by overnight air!

Thanks for stopping by tonight!


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Trollop Tales: Part 2

This business with the Trollop hanging around all the time is really getting on my nerves! Last night for the first time she invited some of her friends to the house for the cocktail hour. Not a good sign to my way of thinking that she feels so comfortable here as to actually invite her friends. But apparently the Mister was in acquiescence, so what could I do?

To set the stage, for music she asked me to put on some Vivaldi concertos for the evening, which gave me a somewhat but unsurprising shock. Most civilized people know that Vivaldi's generally relegated to breakfast music. His perky little concertos are so much better suited to waking up and facing a new day than trying to wind down in the evenings. Not to mention that all his concertos are so similar if not totally repetitive. In fact, I think it was Stravinsky who made the strident remark "Vivaldi didn't write five-hundred concertos, he wrote one concerto five hundred times!"

Anyhow, and getting back to the trollop, I positioned myself behind the bar - ready to mix drinks for the cocktail hour. But what cocktails? Her friends started asking for beer! Which we have plenty of by the way, the expensive varieties of course. And I might also mention that we plenty of elegant crystal beer glasses on hand.

However, as I opened each beer for the trollop's guests, each one would reach for it (without even a cocktail napkin) and start to drink it straight out of the bottle!

The only reason I didn't have a mild stroke was because I've seen this kind of aberrant behavior before of course - in bars, especially sports bars, and have done so myself in such environments. But this evening was the first time I've ever seen such a thing happen in this house. The Mister (being seventy-five and one foot in the grave) seemed to enjoy all the frivolity and fun for the evening, so who am I to judge this?

I checked with my spy confidant at the corporation and so far the Trollop hasn't been issued a credit card yet, as most long-term girlfriends receive. By way of comparison the former wife had the American Express Black Card, with a minimum spending requirement of $250,000 per year. Whereas the new girlfriends usually get a mere Visa or MasterCard that max's out at $5,000.

So it's somewhat comforting, at least to date, that the Trollop hasn't yet been issued her own plastic. We'll see what happens down the line. But drinking beer straight out of the bottle might very well give the Mister pause in going forward with this dalliance. Even in his dotage, he has his standards.

Thanks for dropping in this evening, and for any commiseration in this intolerable situation,



Thursday, May 5, 2016

Trollop Tales!

While watching the morning news with a leisurely cup of coffee in hand, Ester the Upstairs Maid sent this text: "When are you coming? I have some news!" She added a laughing emoji face so I knew it must be something fun.

Still in bathrobe I scurried over to the house where Ester was waiting impatiently. She waved me into the butler's closet where we share all our secrets, and she could barely catch her breath to say, "Before she left this morning I saw Senior take out his money clip and give her a handful of  bills!" And we both began to laugh!

She was talking about the new woman of course, the Trollop as we call her, who's been showing up a couple of times a weeks for the past few months. Somehow we've both instinctively thought she was a professional from the very beginning, and now there's eye-witness evidence involved. Here's some solid giveaways about her behavior:

1) New lady friends who have long-term designs upon the Mister always seem to leave things behind when they depart the next day; a bottle of perfume, a book, perhaps even some lingerie to start claiming their territory. The Trollop doesn't do any of this; she takes everything with her the next morning when she clears out.  

2) In addition, new lady friends always seem to quietly bring in framed photos of her and the Mister, again to claim territory I suppose, placing them discreetly around the house. No such thing is happening with the Trollop.

3) And last of all, new lady friends always try to suck up to me and other staff in some sort of way, to gain acceptance no doubt and get us on their side. Not only does the Trollop not do this, but she usually pretends she doesn't even see me. We did confront each other face to face in the garage one morning as she was leaving, and she stuttered something about "What a beautiful day". Never mind it was cloudy and starting to drizzle.

All of which is fine with me. As Coco Chanel said, "I don't care what you think about me, I don't think about you at all".

So there we have it. The Trollop really is a trollop! Although to her credit, I guess a high paid one at that. The Mister apparently keeps his small bills in his wallet, but the solid-gold money clip (as we've all seen on his bathroom counter) contains only hundreds!

I hope this wasn't too wasteful of your time, but I couldn't resist getting this news out!

As always, thanks for stopping by tonight,

Friday, April 22, 2016

My Billionaire's World! What a Crappy Day!

With all the insanity going on in the world right now, I don't mean to stress you tonight. But this has been an awful day. In fact, an awful week and my future employment here is in the balance.

It was the former Missus who hired me seven years ago - basically to be her personals assistant, to run her errands, and to assist with dinner parties, cocktail events, and her renowned huge galas. All of which was great fun for me at the time.

I made it clear to both her and the Mister during the very first interview that I'm not a handyman and have no concept of plumbing, electricity or any of that crap. But the Mister said it's not a problem since his people in Central Maintenance at the corporation could handle all that stuff. Honestly, he was so enamored of his new wife at the time that anything she wanted (including me, I guess) was fine with him. And thus I was hired.

But since the divorce all that has changed. Instead of being engaged in all the fun and glamour of high society events, my job's been reduced to house sitter, dog sitter, and morphed into being a property manager - calling in contractors to fix things around the house.

Mercifully I've had the help of Dario, one of our Italian groundskeepers, to fix things like a loose door handle, a leaking toilet, a broken vacuum, or a fountain pump that's not working. Together with the other staff, we've been a great team in keeping this huge house running.

But today was Dario's last day!

He's moving on to open his own small business - which delights me no end. He deserves it and I've no doubt he'll be successful. But this leaves me depending on outside contractors for any little thing we need done around here. It exposes me as the fraud that I am as a property manager. And it's just a matter of time when my old tightwad employer gets tired of paying all these bills and tosses me out in favor of a Mr. Fixit.

I'll be ok with all this. I can call up the agency and ask them to find another job. And the former Missus told me to call her up when I'm free from here, But we'll just have to see. Maybe it's time to move on to another career altogether. I don't know quite yet.

But I wanted to let you know what's going on around here.

As always, thanks for dropping in this evening,



Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Afternoon Tea Vs. High Tea!

Last weekend I had the opportunity to tour a new boutique hotel in New York (I'll not mention the name) which was exquisite in every way and detail. Except I was taken aback by a small poster in the lobby that announced "High Tea at 4:00".

It's unclear who could have made such an error, the Maitre D' or the hotel manager, but this confusion over nomenclature is peculiar to America and took me back to my childhood. Being a dumb American as opposed to a sophisticated Brit, I grew up thinking that afternoon tea was simply a cup of tea or coffee with some left-over snacks to tide one over between the lunch and dinner hours.

High Tea to me was something much more elaborate involving fine china, sterling-silver platters and linen napkins - with snacks like scones, cucumber sandwiches and other tempting delicacies of the finger-food nature being presented by house servants or restaurant waiters. In my mind this was the sort of thing you see at a ladies tea in a fine home, or the lobby of a luxury hotel.

While I eventually outgrew my ignorance, I guess I'm not alone in my American confusion where Happy Hour replaced tea time a long time ago. In addition to that poster in the elegant hotel in New York, I once saw a printed invitation to my employer's former wife (whom I adored and miss, by the way) inviting her to High Tea!

This all comes up again thanks to my Twitter buddy Nikki Glenn who posted a great article about the difference between Afternoon Tea and High Tea.

It seems High Tea in England is something the servants take in late afternoon after the Master and/or Mistress of the house have finished Afternoon Tea upstairs. Along with the tea, this break for the servants includes meats and vegetables like a full dinner, not just scones and finger food, before they must prepare for their employers' evening dinner. Since the servants sit at their usual dinning table (below stairs or in the kitchen) it's a normal high table compared to the small low tables in the sitting parlors upstairs, where Afternoon Tea is served.

The article Nikki posted explains it all, and get ready for some really great laughs! The writer, etiquette expert William Hanson, suggests that our entire breeding and background can be deciphered from the way we take tea! Here's a link to his hysterical article in the Daily Mail.

But for a more in-depth look at the history and etiquette of Afternoon Tea, here's a link to an article by Grant Harrold, widely known in England and Europe as The Royal Butler. Here's a link to his fascinating article: The Etiquette of Afternoon Tea. 

I expect this is more than you ever wanted to know about Afternoon Tea, especially since most Americans drink coffee for an afternoon pick-me-up or skip it altogether, as previously mentioned, and go straight for Happy Hour! But if you're sending out invitations or managing a boutique hotel, it behooves us to get the name right, don't you think?

As always, thanks for stopping by this evening, It's Happy Hour as we speak!


Thursday, March 24, 2016

Happy Easter and Goodbye Lent!

Finally it's all coming to a close; Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Valentines, Mardi Gras, Lent, and now Easter coming up this Sunday. I don't know about you but I'm so exhausted I can't even think straight.

However, from here on out it's pretty much smooth sailing throughout the spring and summer months with time to enjoy our friends, family and vacations at leisure - until it all starts up again in autumn.

Of course, in my world we're still dealing with the spring social season and the tedious fund raisers involved, not to mention a few insanely boring high society weddings. But this will be over soon enough - much shorter than the fall social season intertwining with all the holidays.

I know rich people are as anxious for some free time as I am. They honestly work their butts off with no expense spared during the holidays to keep themselves on top of high society and their reputations and fortunes intact.

Time now for a little rest!

If you did Lent this year, I know you're relieved it's over and hope you're satisfied with the efforts. Personally, I think I did pretty well this time around. There was the annual contribution to the poor box at the local Diocese, and I backed off gin martinis in favor of a glass (or two) of Burgundy each evening, which I've heard from reliable sources is a favorite at the Vatican. Surely that counts.

I also shunned left-over caviar from huge galas and whopping cocktail parties. But since my employer has very few lavish events after the divorce, I suspect this won't count at all - if not a big thumbs down from the Lent police.

As the Vatican would have it, we're still in the infrequent and unusual Holy Year of Mercy which I warned about a few months backs. But it's nothing at all like giving up things for Lent! Or trying to keep up with ill-advised New Years's resolutions. So don't even worry about it.

Now it's time for all of us (rich, poor or struggling in between) to relax, unwind, and enjoy the pleasures of spring and summer, don't you think? I just can't wait for family gatherings and cookouts on the Fourth of July, poor as we all might be! But richer in family ties and love than what I see going on around here.

Happy Easter and spring to all! And as always, thanks for stopping by this evening,


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

"Beware the Ides!"

Today is another "Super Tuesday" in the endless American presidential election.

By coincidence it's also the day in 44 BC when Julius Caesar was murdered.

According to Shakespeare, it was a  haruspex soothsayer by the name of Spurinna who first warned Caesar about the plot to kill him.

On his way to the senate that day on March 15, he passed her in the street and somewhat mockingly said, "The Ides have come."

To which she quietly replied, "But not over."

On that very day a group of dysfunctional senators, in a conspiracy led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and his brother-in-law Marcus Junius Brutus, slowly and deliberately stabbed Julius Caesar to death.

This reckless event brought an end to the troubled and fragile Roman Republic, eventually ushering in the rapacious and cruel Roman Empire.

Beware the Ides, indeed.

Politics can be ever so tricky.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

The Weekday Trollop!

You know, I didn't actually start out to write a trilogy about all the women tramping in and out this house, but there's some recent developments I thought I should mention. (This could very well be considered gossip in some circles. But who cares? Gossip to some might be vital information to others, right?)

Since this affair began I've been wondering two things about this weekday trollop. Why does she only come here on Wednesdays and Thursdays? And why do they always order pizza or Chinese delivery for dinner, and never go out in public together?

As to the first question, my confidant at the office told me she's found out that the weekday lady has a long-standing affair with another prominent gentleman here in the Hampton's on Mondays and Tuesdays of each week.

Well, okay. And the answer to that question entirely explains the second question - obviously NONE of these people want to bump into each other out in public and cause a scene. I had suspected something like this all along, but in my naivety assumed she was married and didn't want to be exposed. Hardly did I imagine she's a professional mistress with more than one client in town. Good God!

But the big news tonight is that the usual weekend girlfriend, who we more-or-less like and get along with, has found out about all this whole sordid mess. She came here early this week, packed up all her clothes, shoes, makeup and toiletries, and moved out! I wasn't sure how she found out, but now I think I've figured that out too.

Our pizza delivery girl is a huge source of dependable gossip. She knows everything going on in the community (especially who's car is parked in who's driveway overnight) and shares it all with the house staff all over town. I described her more fully in a post entitled "Do Rich People Order Pizza" some while back.

In any case, when my employer and the trollop ordered pizza on Wednesday last week our charming delivery girl told me the weekend girlfriend had called her up and pumped for information. So I guess that's the weak link right there. (Although gossip from the house staff sometimes trickles up to their employers if they're own confidential terms, and the weekend gal could have found out from other sources among the friends she's made within the community. Who can know?)

My confidant also told me today that our employer has already cancelled the weekend girlfriend's American Express card - so I guess she's gone for good.

It's sad in some ways. I hate to see the Mister left alone on the weekends. On the other hand, it's of his own making, isn't it? In the back of my mind I have a feeling this might be a power play for the weekend girlfriend - marriage or nothing - although I have no evidence to support that. When she left with all her stuff she gave me a big tearful hug, and was seemingly and genuinely hurt.

So now it's just us - the house staff, groundskeepers, the Mister and the dogs - dealing with the weekday professional and whatever new concubine comes next to close the weekend gap. As I've mentioned before, the Mister is close to a thousand years old now, while these young chicks he's running in and out of here are only in their fifties or early sixties - if that gives a clearer picture.

I'm so exhausted and appalled I can't even think straight, and don't know which way to turn from one day to the next. But just in case I need to jump out of here on short notice, I'm already cleaning out my files and updating the resume.

I hope this absurdity hasn't exhausted you too and bored you to death!

As always, thanks for dropping in this evening,

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Dreadful New Girlfriend!

I need to blow off some steam here tonight and tell you this new woman showing up during the weekdays is driving me crazy!

In the last post I mentioned I'd had to buy roses for whoever showed up here on Valentine's day, and it turned out to be her. The regular weekend girlfriend had family in town and didn't come out here to the Hampton's. Then out of the blue this weekday trollop showed up.

Okay, fine. Whatever. We found the Valentine card I bought in the trash, unsigned and unheeded, Which is fine too, I don't care. But when she left on Monday she took the roses with her, along with the $600 cut lead crystal vase which really gets my goat. I can't tell you how many times this has happened, and the vase closet is half empty. I swear I'm going to start putting roses in cut-down milk cartons (elegantly wrapped in red cellophane of course) and be done with it. That was my favorite vase in the house and I want it back!

It's not that she's a vacuous, vapid airhead or anything like that. (Well maybe.) But she's just so damned clumsy. Already she's broken two monogrammed Baccarat wine glasses ($475 each!), she spills stuff all over the kitchen when she's mixing Bloody Marys in the mornings -  and then there's the red wine horrors.

This lady likes to take her glass of red wine and some snacks upstairs to the master bedroom at night. And again that's fine. Crumbs in the bed, so what?

But then one afternoon when the Mister and trollop finally left the house, Ester the upstairs maid called me in a panic. I dashed upstairs and there it was, on the girlfriend's side of the bed, this huge red wine stain on the sheets. Not just any sheets mind you, but $5,000 Pratesi sheets from Italy!

Ester was practically hyperventilating when I got there. Since the stain was so fresh we were able to flush it out with cold water, and along with some pre-wash spray, it did come out. But dear God what a lot of hoops we have to jump through to accommodate this woman's erratic behavior.

We have some antique French chairs and settees in the formal sitting rooms, older than the United States itself. What if this clumsy bitch ungracious lady sloshes red wine on that? Then we're in real trouble. You can't just throw a chair into the washing machine, now can you? (Which, by the way, is precisely why most rich people and caterers serve only white wine at large cocktail parties in their high-dollar luxury homes.)

Okay, enough ranting. But this is not easy stuff we're dealing with these days. Juggling all these women and their quirks, not to mention their lingering perfume scents in the bedrooms and automobiles, is like a whole Vaudeville routine going on around here.

Thanks for letting me vent, and as always, thanks for stopping by tonight,


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Happy Saint Valentine's Day 2016! (Ugh!)

I'm so pissed tonight I can't even think straight! Late in the day, at the very last minute, my seventy-year-old employer called me up and asked if I could run out and get some roses and a card for Valentine's day.

This is not the first year the old buzzard has done this to me. So on Friday's shopping at the market I went ahead and picked up two dozen reds, some baby's breath blooms, and a card.

Since I have NO IDEA who he's giving this to (the Weekday Girlfriend or the Weekend Girlfriend) I bought a completely innocuous card that simply said "Happy Valentine's Day" - nothing mushy or anywhere near approaching the word "Love".

Ester the upstairs maid was kind enough to cut the stems for me and shove the whole mess into a nice cut-lead vase, and put it down in the wine cellar to stay fresh. So all I really had to do was bring it upstairs, place the card there with a writing pen (since he can't ever find one) and that's that.

Maurizio, one of our Italian grounds keepers, reported that the old man was running from the front door to the service door this afternoon, looking for his pharmacy delivery of Viagra. (He honestly thinks we don't know about this!) But since the gates are closed the pharmacy ALWAYS drops it off in the mailbox outside.

Why on earth can't he remember that instead of disturbing my evening and calling me up for an emergency run to the pharmacy? It's right outside there in the damned mailbox!

Talk about true love and romance, huh?

I hope your Valentine's day is full of a lot more happiness and love than what I see going on around here. Rich people are a whole world unto themselves.

Happy Saint Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Well crap! Here comes Lent!

Today is Mardi Gras all over the world for Protestants and Catholics alike. From the historic street parties in Venice, to the raucous parades in the French Quarter in New Orleans, to the renowned and lavish displays in Rio - it's the last gasp of frivolity and fun before the beginning of Lent.

If your'e Protestant, it's not really a big problem. You can party the night away to your heart's content, all night long. But for Catholics this is deadly serious business. At the stroke of midnight tonight is the beginning of Lent. All partying and carrying on comes to an abrupt halt!

This sucks so bad I can't even think straight! It's the start of forty-six days of absolute human misery - involving penance, giving alms and self sacrifice - wherein we're supposed to give up something we enjoy or love. Like drinking, partying, or gaming too much on apps.

It's much worse than stupid New Year's resolutions (which we can ditch at any time without consequence). But if you mess up during Lent you very well might be on the road to Hell! Which is a dreary thought and who really need's that, right?

So what to give up? I thought about Tweeting, which is not possible of course. Last year I tried to be clever and gave up giving up things up for Lent. But that didn't work out at all. I had nothing but bad luck for two solid months.

You can be sure my rich employer is not giving up anything. Honestly I have never met a more selfish and self-centered person in my entire life, bordering on personality disorders. But to give him a break, he's not really Catholic. He's Episcopalian for God's sake, one of those easy religions-of-convenience where nothing much is required, except for donations of course. But occasional attendance keeps him in touch with the rest of high society.

As much as I love politics, I think what I'm giving up for Lent is to stop watching the non-stop coverage of this clownish presidential election coming up in America this year. It's much more healthy to watch the BBC World News anyhow, where we can find out what else is going on in this crazy complicated world besides our nutty politics.

Thanks for dropping in this evening and Happy Mardis Gras to all! If you're doing Lent this year, good luck! It's only forty-six days after all. We can get through this...

Andrew :(

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Infidelity Among the Rich!

In the December post entitled New Year's Greetings I reported that all the framed photos of my employer's new girlfriend had been removed from the house - and we were obviously speculating she was on the way out.

I'm not sure if I ever explained, but during this three-year relationship she only came out to the Hampton's on the weekends, Friday through Sunday. The affair seemed solid and enduring to all of us and we were growing accustomed to her. But then after a while, during week days when she wasn't here, there were other women (plural!) starting to show up. This gave us all a shock at first! We just weren't quite sure how to react or relate to any of them.

I try to mind my own business around here and never go over to the house in the evenings unless specifically requested for an event or cocktail party. So I really don't know what goes on around here in the evenings. But frequently during the week Ester the upstairs maid would report finding lipstick on a wine glass from the evening before, and we could easily trace our employer and his mysterious new guest's movements throughout the house from the tell-tale evidence left behind.

But then one day Ester reported that for the last few weeks the lipstick on the wine glasses was always the same shade, and the lingering perfume throughout the house was always the same as well. So we naturally assumed the old man was settling in on one new competitor to the weekend lady. Then when the pictures disappeared we thought we had a conclusive answer as to what might be coming next.

We couldn't have been more wrong. This morning Ester called me early and said the pictures were back up. It seems the new girlfriend has spent the last month with her family in Europe during all the holidays, but now she's back. Where this leaves the new weekday lady, we haven't a clue. But once again, as before the last divorce, our job now is to play musical sheets and try to neutralize perfume odors in the house and cars, in between visits.

As unseemly as this all may sound, my experience has been that rich people make up their own rules and do whatever they wish is this life. Fidelity is one of those clumsy things that seemingly and easily gets tossed aside in their world, as long as the money keeps flowing to everyone involved. Who am I to judge that with my middle class values?

Not all rich behave this way, of course. I'm just reporting my own observations over the years, and we're all familiar with the salacious stories coming out of Hollywood and Washington DC. By comparison, I suppose what goes on in this house doesn't seem all that irregular - as things go in their world.

So the new girlfriend's back. I guess we need to adjust our thinking and start calling her the Weekend Girlfriend - to allow room for others. Who knows?

Thanks for dropping in this evening. Hope your winter is moving right along, with the happy prospect of spring just ahead.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Plea to Twitter!

There's some disturbing news right now that Twitter is considering expanding Tweets from 140 characters to 10,000!

WHAT? Please God don't let this happen! The whole FUN of Twitter is quick tweets and rapid response, to which millions of active users have all become accustomed!

And the thing is, this limitation of 140 characters has forced Twitter fans to increase our focussharper thinking, and precise usage of the English language to get a simple and quick message across. No other forum on the internet does this!

In my own situation this wonderfully-reduced verbiage has been a blessing; the economy of words has carried over into responding to comments on my blog, responses to rambling crap on Facebook, even to personal emails to family and friends so I don't bore them to death!

Twitter, surely you understand there are OTHER FORUMS to let people rant and rave! Like Reddit! Facebook! And personal blogs! Why would you destroy the pristine simplicity of 140 character that we've all grown to love?

If this is reaching you at all Twitter, let me say thanks tonight for allowing me to rant and rave right here on my own personal blog - not blasting out the brains of Twitter friends and followers! Please do rethink this! If someone throws 10,000 characters at me during a busy day I think I'd croak - and most surely NOT respond!

Short and sweet has gained you millions of fans and participants. Are you really willing to jeopardize all this by turning yourself into another Reddit or Facebook? If you think I'm the only one alarmed, here's a link to The Huffington Post that describes the emotional and financial chaos at hand!

As always, thanks for stopping by this evening. If you're a Twitter fan, then you know precisely what I'm talking about. (Otherwise, please forgive me for boring you to tears!)

Andrew A. Williams
On Twitter: @TheButlersTale

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Epiphany 2016! Christmas is finally over!

During this festive time of year many of us leave our Christmas decorations up throughout the New Year celebrations, and of course rich people with all their nonstop parties and carrying on most certainly do the same.

So then, when everybody here on the estate got back to work on Monday January 4, our Italian grounds keepers Maurizio and Dario immediately set to work taking down all the door wreathes and thousands of tree lights around the house and grounds.

Then yesterday they came inside to dismantle the gigantic twelve-foot Christmas tree in the entrance hall. When we were half way done taking down the ornaments, the Mister came downstairs and growled "No, no! Lets not do that until Epiphany."

We were dumbfounded! This is not a Catholic house. We do not celebrate the full twelve days of Christmas like they do. So what's this all about?

Most of the staff here including myself are Catholic, so we didn't mind this one bit. But in the entire history of this house the Twelve Days have never been celebrated all the way to the end.

As I mentioned before, the new girlfriend hasn't been around for awhile, but I'm remembering now that she was Catholic. She hung a small cross in her dressing room upstairs when she first started coming here, and she has the most exquisite string of heirloom genuine pearl Rosary beads I think I've every seen. So perhaps her influence lingers on, and the old man has responded in kind. Who knows?

In any case, today is finally the last day of Christmas 2015!  The Epiphany, Three Kings Day, whatever you want to call it. The Magi have arrived, and we're done.

It's time now to move on, right? In fact the supermarkets and drug stores are already putting out Valentine's candy. I guess tomorrow we'll take down the tree, and that's that.

Thanks for dropping by tonight. Again, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and let me be the first to say Happy Valentine's Day!