Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Sexual Misconduct in the World of the Rich!

"I have nothing but respect for you...and very little of that!" - Groucho Marx

It's all over the news these days - prominent men in Hollywood, the media, and both federal and state governments are being taken to task by women they've sexually harassed or abused on their way to the top. Almost every day we hear allegations about some iconic figure that shakes us to our roots.

Historians will likely tell us that from a sociological and historical perspective, this door was apparently opened when our current president was elected in spite of multiple assault allegations being lodged against him. Suddenly women everywhere, in every industry, are finally standing up and saying "Enough!"

The imbalanced power dynamic between the rich and poor has been around since time began. And don't worry, I'm not about to launch into a sophomoric examination of the master-slave relationship. There are already dozens of articles online about why the rich and powerful think they can get away with anything and their befuddled, if not perverse, psychologies behind it.

But from my vantage here working in a home for a divorced billionaire, I can tell you some first hand jaw-dropping observations about my philandering old employer that might shed some light. He's already up into his 70's but still going strong - as long as they keep making Viagra. And while he's hardly as corrupt as Roman emperor Caligula, his predatory behavior toward women is decidedly questionable.

I've mentioned all the women rotating in and out here, as if we had a revolving door like a fancy hotel. Which keeps us all busy changing sheets and trying to eliminate perfume odors before the next lady friend arrives. Mercifully these days, however, he tends to focus on one woman at a time - which might last for a few weeks or a few months. All of which is much easier on us of course. But here's what we've noticed about all of them, and how he puts them all through the very same paces.

Phase One: He overwhelms them with all his toys; his three-story mansion, the luxury cars in his garages, his private jet and helicopter, travel to his other homes in the US and the apartment in Paris, plus top-dollar shopping and restaurants all over the world. (Due to a queasy stomach he's not the super-yacht kind of guy, thank God. I would seriously loathe being stuck out on a boat with him for days on end!)

Phase Two: After a short while his current love interest is issued her own credit card to buy whatever she pleases. (My spy confidant at the corporate office keeps me informed about these things, as well as the lady's spending habits when the bills come in.)

Phase Three: He buys her a new car. And we're talking a Lexus or Mercedes here, not a Mazda. (I'm the one who has to keep track of all the vehicles around here; routine maintenance, inspection, registration. So this is always a new stress coming in.)

But then suddenly the vacuous old man runs out of toys to intrigue her, or perhaps someone else catches his eye. Which triggers...

Phase Four: "Goodbye, go away, keep the car!" (The credit card gets cancelled. The car title is transferred. And I'm done with having to track that car!)

The thing is, while all his dalliances are among consenting adults, it doesn't numb the emotional pain when he suddenly dumps one of  them and moves on to the next. These women begin to believe they've found their dream husband, and it hurts them so badly to find out they've just been used to temporarily gratify his lust. Sadly, I get texts and phone call for days and weeks from these women, wondering what they had done wrong, or how to get back in. To which there is no answer.

I can't really analyze my employer's complicated psychology beyond the usual narcissistic personality disorder. However, his annoying sense of entitlement apparently allows him to think he can toy with any woman and get away with it - as long as he picks up all the tabs along the way and hands over the car title at the end, like some kind of payoff.

To date, none of these women have stood up publicly to denounce him, like what's going on in the news - much to the old man's relief, I'm sure. While I'm no one's judge, the whole sordid mess seems a little sad and pathetic to me, for everyone involved.

Thanks for stopping by this evening. I hope your holiday plans will be a little more heart warming than all the craziness going on around here. :)



Thursday, November 16, 2017

Christmas Gifts for the Rich: The Orient Express!

In September I mentioned a few items that might be great gifts for the super rich. It's really hard to buy for them, you know? Considering they already have everything under the sun, right?

But thanks to our Twitter pal Jim Kendall (luxury real-estate mogul in Boston) it occurs to me that the gift of travel could be entirely unique and well received by our rich friends - if presented carefully and in the right way. Who doesn't love to get out of town and do something different, right?

For example, how about open tickets (meaning 'at your convenience' ) for a ten-day holiday on a luxury Mediterranean cruise ship? (Which is generally under $50,000 per couple.)

And then, how about open reservations for a six-day revitalization visit to the luxury spa Clinique La Prairie in Switzerland? Who wouldn't appreciate that? (About $33,000 per person, or $66,000 per couple.)

Or perhaps open tickets for the three-room apartments on the UAE's luxury airline Ethiad Air -complete with a private shower before landing? (A round-trip ticket from New York to Mumbai, for example, would be roughly $76,000 per couple.)

But Jim was talking about something new altogether. It seems the renowned Orient Express, serving the rich and famous since 1883, is upgrading some cars to accommodate the current new breed of super rich - who are always looking for new thrills and adventures. In it's long 135 year history the train has not only been known for luxury but also mystery and intrigue - as in Agatha Christie's book and film Murder On the Orient Express.

Like many other children, my father bought me a miniature train set when I was a child and I've been hooked on train travel ever since. As a family we took trains all across America and Canada, with sleeping cars, an observation car, and a dining room with linens and crystal wine glasses on the table. All so awesome! And then in later years as a poor back-packing student traveling in Europe, cheap passenger trains were always the transportation of choice. Not just for the scenic beauty but also the wonderful people you meet along the journey.

One summer in Istanbul I went to the train station to check out the Destination Board, trying to decide where to go to next. To my excitement the Orient Express was pulling into the station at that very same time! At least twice I walked the entire length of the train on the platform, peering into windows and watching the well-heeled passengers depart - summonsing porters to pick up their Louis Vuitton luggage and steamer trunks. Just so elegant and mind boggling!

But now getting back to the subject, here's a link to the newly added suites for the super rich on the Orient Express. At a mere $7,000 per night per person, you can easily see why this would be a great gift for your best rich friends. That's only about $200,000 for a couple to have a two-week trip, right? Perfect for a honeymoon or anniversary celebration, as well as other such reckless events.  Conde Nast Traveler

I hope this has been somewhat helpful in making gift decisions this year?  Or what?

As always, thanks for dropping in this evening,

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Terrified Rich!

"I've been rich been rich and I've been poor, but rich is better!" -  Sophie Tucker, Gertrude Stein, Mae West

During these times of worldwide chaos I've been somewhat amused by business and financial publications like Forbes, The Atlantic, and Business Insider describing the whining and fears of the well-heeled rich. While many of us scramble to come up with rent money or the electric bill, it's true that the rich and super rich have their own set of headaches that keep them awake at night - as inconceivable as that may sound.

In no particular order, here's a list of some of their self-imposed anxieties:

- HANGING ON TO THEIR MONEY: Once they've busted their butts and accumulated a pile of cash, "How on earth do we hang onto it?"

- DECLINING MARKETS: Could their fortunes evaporate overnight with rumors of a recession or an actual collapse? (Even those in the middle class with 401K's have this worry, right?)

- THE IRS: Rich people know all too well that the Internal Revenue Service is breathing down their necks, watching every move they make and ready to pounce. Which requires teams of accountants and lawyers to help them find all the loopholes.

- LAWSUITS: Everyone wants to sue the rich and they're always being dragged into court for some reason or other, which is why they keep lawyers on retainer. (My employer even has a special cheap suit from Walmart and a $25 butt-ugly watch from Walgreen's that he wears to court, so he won't look too rich.)

- CAR WRECKS: At any given moment on any given day, a simple car crash could cost them millions once the injured party and their lawyers find out they have deep pockets! Which is why many of them take taxis, limos, or hired car services when they go out and about.

- POLITICAL CONCERNS: Who is currently in the White House or Congress that might help or hinder them for getting a tax cut or eliminating corporate regulations? (And therefore huge contributions to political campaigns!)

- DIVORCE: No doubt about it, this is decidedly the easiest and quickest way to lose HALF your fortune overnight! (Especially when the wife knows the best attorneys who can break a prenuptial agreement.)

- SEXUAL IMPROPRIETY: As we all know, anyone with money or power is at risk of blackmail, public exposure, or lawsuits for inappropriate behavior. It's all over the news all the time, and I needn't explain more.

- CHARITIES: The rich are under constant siege from a long list of charities seeking donations. Which is why most of them assuage their guilt by aligning themselves with a favorite few, attend their glitzy (if not boring) Charity Balls, then scribble out a check and be done with it. (Around the holidays we literally gets stacks of charity requests in the mail!)

- SECURITY: The multiple homes of the rich are always targets for professional thieves and cat burglars who are after their million-dollar art works, jewels and silver. Even worse, some rich people need to hire body guards to protect against more sinister situations like kidnapping, ransom, or worse.

There's other disquieting stuff, like fear of gold-digging friends, corporate embezzlement, or worrying that their kids will bump them off for the inheritance - but I'll stop here. Many of us daydream about being rich. (Or at least having enough to make ends meet every month.) But as with anything else, there are consequences and responsibilities involved.

As Oscar Wilde said: "When the Gods wish to punish us, they answer our prayers."

Thanks for dropping in this evening,

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Rich People Vs. Trump!

Lordy lord, what a difficult time this has been the last few weeks. Destructive hurricanes hitting Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. And now this deadly attack on innocent people in Las Vegas. All so appalling and heartbreaking!

These tragic events impact all of us of course, and hurt us deep in our souls. But in my capacity here, working for a rich family, I thought I might share some thoughts on how rich peole react to all of this - at least those within my scope.

By way of background, my employer is a republican of course. But he's on the "small government" side of the party - not the extreme right wing side that wants to snoop around in everyone's bedrooms and control our private lives.

And as tax cuts for the rich is a current proposal in Washington, I'm also happy to tell you that my employer is a part of the non-greedy rich like Warren Buffett who says "I don't need a tax cut!" It's a small group but seemingly growing as the world's problems increase.

Having said all that, here's some amazing champagne-driven conversations I've overheard at cocktail parties these last few weeks:

Q: "Why does he keep appointing climate deniers? I was having such a nice time in Palm Beach."
A: "Doing what? Or should I say who?"

Q: "Did he really throw out paper towels to Puerto Ricans? Seems a little condescending to me."
A: "That reminds me, I need to send someone out to Costco tomorrow."

Q: "Why does anyone have access to automatic weapons nowadays? Haven't we had enough?"
A: "I think you've had enough. Shall I call your driver?"

Q: "I love handguns but I certainly don't need a silencer."
A: "I wouldn't mind having one. You've obviously not met my husband."

Q: "Do you need a tax cut?"
A: "Why not? But what would I do with it?"

Q: "Are we going to re-elect this man?
A: "That would be up to the Russians, wouldn't it?

Q: "So many dead! How could this happen?"
A: "You're asking me you silly bitch? I'm not the NRA."

Q: "Do you like his wife?"
A: "I've always been a fan of stilettos."

Q: "Is he fit to run the country?"
A: "About as fit as you are to drive home."

Q: "Are we going to blow up North Korea?"
A: "Why do you ask? Would that interrupt your winter cruise?"

Okay, I could go on and on, but I'll draw this silliness to a close.

The thing is, republicans are not a monolithic group, are they? We'll just have to see how this all plays out.

Thanks for dropping in this evening, and God bless us all!


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What to Buy for Someone Who Has Everything?

So Labor Day is behind us and all hell is about to break loose! The Fall Social Season is already winding up, there's football parties to plan, and then of course the endless crush of holidays headed our way. The stores are already full of Halloween crap. But the big enchilada is Christmas, right?

In the world of the super rich it's never too early to start thinking about gifts, and the perennial question of "What to buy for someone who has everything?" raises its ugly head. In fact if you Google those very words you'll find about 68 million responses - everything from Forbes Magazine to Martha Stewart. So I thought I might jump in and add my two cents.

As for my ancient employer's multiple girlfriends, I'm still in touch with the former wife's Personal Shopper and will just turn this task over to her and be done with it. Honestly I can't imagine what to buy for any of these women. (Although a sterling-silver Medical ID bracelet comes to mind.)

But what if you want to buy something special for your best friend? In that respect I'd recommend a nice Richard Mille watch. So what if you have to spend $500,000 to $1 million, this gift separates the men from the boys - and it's your best friend, right? Here's a fun article on why the
Richard Mille Watch is so impressive and important to the super rich. And here's a look at the Top Eleven Mille watches - ranging from cheapskate to best buddy!

Now getting back down to earth, you don't have to spend one or two mil on each and every friend, do you? There's plenty of unique things out there at a reasonable price. Personally I always recommend booze as an easy way out for those who don't need anything else in this material world.

For example, you could give a respectable bottle of cognac for as little as $5,000 and up to $100,000, depending on how much you like the person. Here's a link to some notable and most excellent choices. (By the way, it was the poison cognac found in this house that provoked my alarm and book over the horrifying investigation!)

But to continue, thanks to our friend Josef Frieze at Von Urbanovsky - who has an excellent line of unique items for the rich - we've been introduced to a distinctive and rare bourbon from an intriguing company called Arome Spirits.

This would be a gift for a comfortable old friend who can't be impressed with money, only quality. Arome has a finely aged 28-year-old sipping rum (heartily reviewed by Robb Report) which you can pick up for around $650 a bottle - and perhaps share with your friend on a cold winter night beside the fireplace.

Aside from all that, you could always resort to frivolous gifts and gadgets from Hammacher Schlemmer, offering "Unique and Unexpected Gifts for 169 years". It's not about money here, only knowing your friends well enough to know what would tickle them. After all, the rich and super rich get tired of the battle to impress and upstage each other.

I hope this has been helpful in your gift planning this year. It's always such a nightmare and so damned tricky in the world of the rich.

Thanks for dropping in this evening,

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Christmas Ads in August?

Well crap! I kid you not, today we saw the first blip of Christmas ads on the TV! Miserable weather and sweltering heat in the middle of August, and Christmas ads are already in our face!

It was Marie Callender's turkey and dressing dinners to be specific. But I expect we'll be seeing the Pillsbury Dough Boy popping up any day now, right?

Honestly this gives me the willies! With these two rotating girlfriends floating in and out of here every-other weekend, who knows what kind of confused and conflicted social season this will be. This house has already been ostracized, to a degree, since the divorce. What now?

Do these women expect to have holiday cocktail parties and sit-down dinners for their friends, to show off their new situation in life? Which has been my experience with all the new comers.

Like suddenly the house will fill up with all kinds of trashy extraordinary people who ask for beer and pizza - and plow into the swimming pool in spite of the fact they didn't bring swim suits. Not too scandalous, right?

Or, if you lay out an exquisite table for these nice folks with eight-or-ten eating utensils and four drinking goblets - red wine, white wine, water and a champagne flute - just stand back and get ready for some good laughs. (Did that sound judgmental?)

The thing is, if these two women can get their party dates straight without intersecting one another, will the caterers be able to accommodate? This is the stuff nightmares are made of.

In self defense I've learned to keep plenty of beer in the wine cellar and frozen pizzas, hamburger patties and buns on hand - in case I need to fire up the grill without any help from caterers. The thought has actually crossed my mind to buy some paper plates and plastic forks, but I'm afraid Nelda, our ancient executive housekeeper, would have a stroke. So I guess it will be frozen pizza served on Flora Danica china, with sterling knives and forks and a linen napkin - served down at the pool to people in their birthday suits. 👀

However, the nice thing about this particular ilk is that they tend to eat pizza and burgers with their fingers, so there's really no need to polish the silver afterward. And they also have a unique and appreciated tendency to help clean up - which lets us get out of here quicker.

Please don't blame me for mentally retreating into more tranquil times (before the divorce) when the Missus would throw a small gala for four-or-five hundred people, all dripping in diamonds and haute couture, fully catered of course - and no one running around butt naked!

Happy Hour, here I come! Thanks for stopping by this evening.


Friday, August 4, 2017

The Atlantic asks: "Does Power Cause Brain Damage?"

By way of update, that new blond chickie we nicknamed Cremora hasn't shown up again and we're back to the usual rotation between Splenda and SweetNLow, every-other weekend. So I'm assuming my assumption was right, that she was just a fill-in for a lonely weekend.

For all the super-rich bad boys in this world, there's several highly-secretive international agencies that provide this kind of service for, how shall we put it, personal companionship. Prices can start at ten thousand a night and up, plus air fare and transfers - meaning limos of course. (But you didn't hear any of that from me!)

What's a mystery to us is if any of these lady friends know about each other? We all do our best to cover up tell-tale evidence - changing sheets, airing out rooms and cars to get rid of lingering perfumes, and taking left-behind lingerie straight to the laundry room. But women are so intuitive, are they not? I can't imagine they don't know about each other, or at least suspect something's rotten in Denmark, as Shakespeare might delicately suggest. But then perhaps they choose to ignore it as long as they can get close to the money themselves. (That didn't sound rude or accusative, did it?)

Anyhow, that's not why I'm writing tonight. There was an amusing article in The Atlantic in this month's issue entitled "Does Power Cause Brain Damage". I can't imagine why they came out with that when things are going so smoothly in Washington DC, right?

In any case, it describes how power and money can change and corrupt people over time. And it pretty much covers my two most serious aggravations about the rich and super rich - their arrogance and belittling sense of entitlement - both equating to a total lack of appreciation for anything done for them.

Not to defend them but by way of comprehension, these people are extended in so many ways with multiple homes around the world, with their luxury cars, jets, super yachts, helicopters, haute couture and endless high society obligations, perhaps there's not time to be kind to everyone involved. I get it.

On the other hand, to carry on this kind of lifestyle requires an absolute army of support personnel - personal assistants, personal secretaries, party planners, security companies, body guards, groundskeepers, and house staff - which includes an innocent butler such as moi.

The thing is, these are all legitimate jobs to help them run their crazy lives. They couldn't do it without us, could they? So why then be arrogant? Why then feel so entitled? Specifically, in this house where I work we question why our employer can't pick up his own socks and shoes off the floor, replace batteries in his bedside remote, or even change a roll of toilet paper. Like he's entirely helpless. Those tasks are left up to all the "little people" as the Queen-of-Mean Leona Helmsley might have said.

Somewhere along the path too many rich people seem to lose their humanity. It's like they begin to think of themselves as little gods on the earth, which opens up a whole conversation about the God Complex - where I'm not going tonight and likely never will.

But what they conveniently seem to forget is that it's not about worshiping them or kissing their butts - it's all about the fat paychecks. Otherwise, they can change their own sheets, scrub their own toilets, and kiss their own butts. (Did I say that out loud?)

Here's a link to The Atlantic article. It's an easy and fun read, and sheds some light on how the rich lose their humanity and this great divide between the haves and have-nots.

Thanks for dropping in this evening,


Friday, July 14, 2017

A New Woman!

Good lord, just after the last post detailing how we're settling in with two women on rotating weekends, suddenly out of the blue a new woman shows up! Which has thrown us into absolute and utter confusion around here.

Is she just a temporary bauble while the other two are 'busy' for some reason, or do we have to fit her into the rotation?

I have to tell you she's not like the rest of them. Blond, yes but with short bobbed hair, not falling to her shoulders. Tall? No. And as for age, she's nowhere near 30 - much less 50 or 60 like the others my 76 year old employer generally hangs out with.

Which makes me wonder somehow if she might be a professional just coming over to fill in a gap between Splenda and SweetNLow.

And get this: instead of a sweetener for her morning coffee, she asked "Do you have any Cremora?"

What on earth is that? I called our concierge delivery service and asked them to pick some up right away and get it over here ASAP!

As for Ester, our Upstairs Maid, she's simply appalled! She's had it with washing and ironing sheets in rapid order and demands that I buy more.

Which I'm ordering online this very evening from Pratesi in Italy, their top-of-the line $5,000 for ONE set of sheets, just to get back at the old man! (Should I buy two or three sets since this whole business seems to be spinning out of control?)

But here's the scary thing about Cremora: when I brought the morning paper to the breakfast table she gave me the once over.

To back up here and be a little more explicit - what she actually did was look into my eyes, then glance down to my crotch, and then slowly back up to my eyes.

Which, what does that even mean? This is not my first rodeo around here, you know?

But I'm thinking if Cremora stays around for awhile there just might be problems in the mansion!

Thanks for dropping in this evening. Hope this post didn't cross a line, but things can be so confounding and confusing around here at times,


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Rotating Girlfriends!

Not to bore you, but I seriously need to grumble for a couple of moments. The weather's been miserable this summer, politics have run amok in DC, and my ancient old employer's Viagra-dependent libido is driving me crazy!

I've complained more than once about all the women floating in and out of here as if we had a revolving front door, like a hotel, with the expectation of twenty-four hour room service. Our job has been to play musical sheets and try to get the lingering perfume aromas out of the house and cars before the next floozy guest arrives. Which could easily throw us into a panic if they're back to back - one leaving in the afternoon and another arriving in the early evening.

But now all these tryouts, shall we call them, seem to have resolved into just two steady lady friends, on alternate rotating weekends.

In many ways this is easier for us to have the whole week to prepare and air out the house. I've learned to put sprigs of eucalyptus under the seats in all the luxury cars the old man keeps in his garages. It almost totally masks, or at least confuses, the delicate light aromas of lux perfumes. But the cheap stuff from Walmart practically requires a good bleaching down to get rid of.

Then on the other hand, as these women settle in, chef and I are supposed to remember their dietary preferences; their favorite fruits, cereals and yogurts for breakfast - especially their coffee sweeteners. In fact we've nick named these two women based on this.

Splenda, for example, is easy to remember for  her splendid manners and her middle-class propensity to help clean up after breakfast. She's always polite to staff, and has a quite pleasant smile - even if permanently attached to her charming face by a plastic surgeon.

But then there's Sweet 'N Low who seems far more cunning and insidious than Splenda. She's got her eyes on a rich husband and it's obvious to all of us. She exhibits a cool arrogance, like she's trying to become queen of the house and take control of staff.  

And get this: she's slowly bringing in her own clothes on wire hangers and transferring the garments to our monogrammed wooden hangers from Henri Hangers.

Ester the Upstairs Maid is scandalized by this encroachment! So am I, truth know, since I'm the one who installed Henri Hangers in the first place - meant for haute couture - not Nordstom or Sears. (I hope that didn't sound snobby?)

I might also mention that both Splenda and Sweet'NLow have brought in framed photos of themselves with the Mister and placed them around the house. But my employer is diligent, let's say religious, about switching out the photos in-between visits. And I'm not accepting the blame if his memory lapses.

Well okay, enough. Thanks for letting me rant for a moment. This job can be so stressful and nutty at times I don't know whether I'm coming or going.

I do hope you're summer is going along a little more smoothly.


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Metal Credit Cards for the Rich!

A couple of years back I wrote a post about credit cards for the rich and went on and on about the secretive and mysterious American Express Black Card. In the beginning there were only rumors about the card, no one was really sure if it even existed. The thing is it's not exactly something most of us can apply for.

In fact, it's issued by invitation only to the richest of the rich, and by all accounts the membership list is both unforthcoming and reportedly quite low. But as details gradually leaked out, it seems this prestigious card carried a $2,500 annual fee and required a quarter-of-a-million dollars in annual purchases to keep it active - at least at the time.

The only reason I knew about the Black Card was because the former mistress of the house (who I miss like crazy) had one. In fact, she already had it before she came into the marriage - the end result of several successful divorces, no doubt. She would hand it to me to run errands around town, and boy did I have fun. No matter how hungover or grubby I might have looked at the moment, it was always amusing to see how the immaculately-groomed clerks at Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf's would buck up when I pulled out that card. 👀

But now there's something entirely new on the scene. Thanks to our friend Miss Helen I'm just now catching up to the latest craze about metal credit cards. They're hot, they're flashy, they're sexy, and they're oh so expensive! Here's a link to see what I'm talking about.

Oddly enough the demand for these cards is propelled by millennials who jumped on them like ducks on a June bug. Spokeswoman Lauren Francis at Chase Bank said:

"We've approved tens of thousands of applications for the card. Most of the customers are millennials who typically shun credit cards and are not usually a target for high-fee ultra-premium plastic."

But driven by the internet and social media, it's something new and novel for the millennials - and definitely a conversation piece. As US News & World Report said:

"Calling it plastic wouldn't do it justice. It is a high-end, high-fee, high-reward card made of a metallic alloy that gives it a satisfying heft and an impressive THUNK when you toss it onto the table to pick up the check." 

Personally I have questions about these trendy metal baubles screwing up card scanners or if they cause problems with airport security. But I guess those bugs have already been worked out, right? I'm thinking that it's the thunk on the table that's causing all the rage.

But not to be cynical about millennials, I'm also thinking that perhaps they're being socially and environmentally responsible in knowing that their expired credit cards will simply rust away in the landfills - not sit there like plastic cards that will be around for kingdom come. Yes, I'm sure that's it! Why else would they abandon their anti-credit stance unless for a good social cause?

As always, thanks for dropping by this evening,


Editor's Note: There's additional vital observations of the rich in this writer's book The Billionaire's Butler; Mystery, Murder and Romance in the Wacky World of the Super Rich, available in both paperback and Kindle on Amazon. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Suffering Rich!

While the title might suggest I'm about to launch into a philosophical or sociological examination about the guilt rich people feel for having too much of everything, I promise you it's no such thing.

This is about the physical suffering they go through in their struggle to stay looking young in spite of the ravages of age. Since this entire blog is based on having insider information on how they live and conduct themselves, in this particular situation I have not only observations but personal experience to add to it.

Here's what happened: A couple of years back I took a hard fall on a hiking trail, face down on the rocks. Ouch! And I really mean ouch! Apparently knocked out for awhile (long enough for insect bites and buzzards starting to circle) it resulted in a dizzy-fying concussion that lasted for months. But that wasn't the end of it. It seems the levator muscles were damaged, resulting in increasingly droopy eyelids. (Not unlike Matt Damon, ok?) 😒  But the point is, the decreasing light was beginning to interfere with night driving. The eye doc said it's only going to get worse, and since it would be a medical necessity the insurance company would pay for it - as opposed to elective plastic surgery. But it's the same exact procedure that rich people go through to look younger. Which I felt embarrassed about and dreaded like crazy!

The suffering: First off, did you know they don't put you to sleep for this procedure? Nope! Just stick needles in your eyelids with a pain killer. What? What! Ouch! Then they start cutting away with a hot cauterizing knife to get rid of the droopy skin. But then YIKES - you start to feel both the cutting and the hot knife, and they stick more pain killer into your eyelids! Oh my lord! After a long miserable half hour, they tell you they're all done cutting and will now starting stitching your eyelids back together. Great! But it takes for freaking ever and you're feeling the little needle pricks and the string being pulled through! Help me God! All through the procedure I kept wanting to jump up and run out! But you can't really do that without eyelids, can you? With shattered nerves and a queasy stomach, when it was finally all over they kicked me out and sent me home to recover as best you can on your own. 😓

The recovery: Surprisingly (thankfully!) the post-op pain was easily manageable with gin and tonic. But there's major black eyes and swelling for a good two-to-three weeks, something like Mike Tyson would understand and appreciate, requiring lots of bed rest, propped up pillows, and ice packs.

Reactions from others: This is the fun part and it seemed to break down into three categories. When out and about with my cousin Celene (a tough looking chick) we got weird looks that we interpreted as suspicion of domestic violence! At the gym people generally asked if there was a fight or an accident. But here in my rich uppity neighborhood I got sympathetic 'knowing looks' and smiles, like they understand exactly what I've been through. Which I was afraid of in the first place - and embarrassing as all get out!

The difference between the rich and poor: Of course rich people have these procedures done in luxury resort hospitals like in Switzerland and I suspect they might have sedation of some sort - if nothing other than a couple of gin martinis before the surgery. Instead of being thrown out onto the street to recover on their own, they enjoy a luxurious two-or-three week holiday, pampered by attentive personnel who apply ice packs hourly for a few days to keep the swelling at bay. There's massage therapy to help you relax, and plenty of activities and gourmet food while the bruising and swelling slowly disappears - well before re-entering society with an all new face. In fact, many rich people discretely disappear to Switzerland in deep winter and do this sort of thing before the spring social season begins.

The thing is, I found this whole simple surgery thoroughly disturbing and painful. It's hard to believe that rich people do this on an elective and regular basis. Not just eye lifts but full face lifts, nose jobs, chin jobs, butt lifts, tummy tucks, breast augmentation, and liposuction for days. There is serious pain involved with all these silly self-indulgent procedures - which is why I'm going to say if you don't think rich people suffer for having all that money, look twice! 👀

I hope this post wasn't too dumb. But it's part of the big picture as to what the rich are up to. With all their cash and power, they want to live forever of course! And why not try to look good along the way? 😏

As always, thanks for dropping in tonight,


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Farewell to "The Greatest Show on Earth"!

It came as a sad shock in January when Ringling Bros.and  Barnum & Bailey Circus announced they were closing down after 146 years! Something akin to the world spinning off it's axis, to my way of thinking.

It also came as a shock when my crotchety old employer asked me to acquire six tickets to one of their last performances in Uniondale, New York. Honestly, I didn't know the old buzzard had any scintilla of sentimentality whatsoever, but apparently he does. I figured he and his guests would stay at the penthouse in Manhattan and take a limo out to Uniondale for the performance. But no, he asked me to book a three-bedroom suite at the Plaza. Which actually makes the whole thing more simple for me. I'll just dump it all in the Concierge's lap at the Plaza and let her take care of the tickets and limo arrangements. (Concierges always have the best tickets anyway, albeit triple/quadruple the cost.)

Nelda, our ancient Teutonic executive housekeeper, told me that as a child he used to stay at the Plaza with his parents when Ringling Brothers came to town, and actually saw the circus under the Big Top. Which would have been before 1957 when Ringling stopped bringing their own tents in favor of setting up in local venues like coliseums, sports stadiums and arenas. Personal memories are from seeing the shows in a coliseum where high wire acts were easily suspended from the rafters above.

But I get it, and understand why he wants to nourish and relive his memories. Ringling has been a part of American culture for almost a century and a half. When they arrived and set up their Big Top, schools would close and there would be a town holiday. Long before there were zoos in American cities, where else could children see exotic animals - lions, tigers, bears, and elephants! Not to mention all the wonderful old films about circus life, plus all the famous stars (like The Flying Wallendas and clowns like Emmett Kelly) who came from that extravaganza.

The cost of sustaining all the performers and maintaining those animals all year round, plus transporting them to a venue is mind boggling to begin with. With the pressures of animal rights activists nowadays (which I fully understand), pulling the elephants from the show was reportedly the last straw and resulted in declining sales. The Greatest Show on Earth had no choice but to shut down.

My thoughts now are with all the performers; what will they do in the future, and where will all the animals go? I suspect the animals will go to zoos, and the performers will stick together and go into retirement at Ringling Brothers' winter home in Florida. Why not? But I guess we'll hear more about this later, hopefully with some memoirs coming forth.

The thing is, Ringling Brothers has been around for over half the lifespan of the United States itself, and it's hard to say goodbye. Although we still have a three-ring circus going on in Washington these days, it's not really the same, is it? And never will be.

If you want to catch one of their last shows, here's a link to their schedule. And as always, thanks for dropping by this evening.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gatsby the Great!

Well crap! There's more trouble around here than you can shake a stick at! This afternoon Dame Garrett (one of our absolutely favorite Grand Dames of local high society) arrived just in time for happy hour the evening cocktails. When she got out of her beat-up old Bentley, one of the Great Danes grabbed her umbrella and ran off with it!

Not just any umbrella mind you, but a Monet print, acquired from a visit to the artist's hometown in Giverny, France. And from Dame Garrett's panic and tears there was no doubt sentimental attachment involved. Chasing the Dane as he lopped off to his secret burial ground, we were able to bribe him with a treat and he finally let go of the umbrella with only a few minor punctures. (In which case the umbrella becomes a parasol I suppose, rather than protection from rain.)

In any case, his full name on the vet's records is Gatsby the Great. But whereas his companion Darcy is gentle and well mannered, Gatsby is a total mess! Perhaps one of the dumbest dogs God ever put on the planet! Here's just a brief history:

- When he was a puppy we sent him off to a two-week boarding academy for training. Not only did he not graduate, but after six days the academy called us up and politely asked us to pick him up. "We'll send a private trainer to your home," they explained.

- He crawled under the Lexus SUV one night and chewed up a bunch of wires! Requiring a tow truck and ungodly expense to repair!

- When the Mister arrived home from the office one day, Gatsby grabbed his electronic car key and we never saw it again! ($500 to replace!)

- When contractors come, he grabs their tools and runs off to the burial ground! Which causes endless delays in needed repairs. (I try to warn them but they don't fully get it until it's too late!)

- At one cocktail event he grabbed a Senator by his Brooks Brothers tie and just hung there! The man (an elderly gentleman with a bad heart) was totally freaked! But Gatsby wouldn't let go until we got there with a treat.

- One elegant lady, stepping outside for a breath of fresh air at a cocktail event, screamed in alarm when Gatsby yanked her Neiman-Marcus scarf right off her neck! He ran around the grounds with the scarf trailing after him in the breeze, and just try to envision this woman in her red stilettos and diamond bracelets chasing after him!

- Then there was the lady doing her wedding photo shoot here on the grounds. To her horror Gatsby ran up and jumped on her gown with muddy paws! Needless to say screams, tears and re-scheduling!

Don't get me wrong, it's not that Gatsby is a mean dog, but he's definitely got issues! Dame Garrett said that, "With his affection for Brooks ties, NM scarves, Mercedes keys, and Monet umbrellas, at least the boy has good taste."

I guess I have to agree. Gatsby has never grabbed my umbrella from Wall-Marts.

Thanks for dropping in this evening and sharing my angst!



Saturday, January 28, 2017

Inauguration Gossip Among The Rich!

Needless to say my employer is pleased as punch that the Republican Party is back in office. Apparently he's been a small-government republican all his life and relishes the prospect of all three branches being controlled by one party.

On the other hand, he and his rich old cronies who show up here on a regular basis are quite liberal when it comes to social issues. They are seemingly at odds with the other half of the Republican Party that wants to snoop around in everyone's bedrooms and control our private lives.

In that context, I've heard some hysterical conversations at cocktail parties the past few weeks, from the day of the election results until this first full week of the new president taking office. The comments bounce around the room from group to group, but here are a few snippets.

At first the chatter seems to concern the new guy's readiness and his questionable world view:

"He doesn't seem very well informed, does he?"
"On some subjects, perhaps not."
"Don't you mean most?"
"Have it your way, I'm not in the mood to fuss with you tonight."
"I don't like that he's embracing isolationism."
"I wish you'd embrace it and go home."
"Did you see all those protests?"
"I thought about going, but what does one wear?" 
"Why does he continue with those impetuous tweets?"
"I think it's a crutch. Like that Champagne flute you just refilled."
"The markets are holding steady, that's all I care about."
"You always were so selfless, my dear."

Then the conversations move on to the man's erratic ego issues and what problems that may cause down the road:

"Why did he want to be president anyway? Such a dreadful occupation."
"Most likely an ego thing."
"Why does he keep talking about his numbers?"
"It's something about that TV show I think."
"His bragging embarrasses me."
"It's a wonder you can be embarrassed by anything at your age."
"What voter fraud is he talking about anyway?"
"The one that shows Hillary won."
"What happens when Putin pops his balloon?"
"Cash in and buy gold you twit, like we always do."
"Did he just start a war with Mexico?"
"I wasn't paying attention, what have you heard?"
"His narcissism makes me nauseous."
"Those cheap pearls you're wearing tonight are making me nauseous."

Then after all the grumbling stops I hear stuff like this:

"But his ego makes him want to be a good leader, doesn't it?"
"One would think."
"I mean, he'll probably want to have a second term."
"Unless that nasty business about impeachment comes up."
"He might surprise us."
"Your lips to God's ears."
"His wife has wonderfully good taste, don't you think?"
"Well yes, except for her taste in men."
"He doesn't do cocktails? I don't understand that."
"Oh, shut up Sylvia!"

So there we have it. Confusion and consternation are alive and well these days. Not being rich myself there's no rhyme nor reason I would be a republican - not to mention I'm a big fan of clean air and water. But I realize the pendulum swings and don't mind the other party being in office from time to time, to keep things in balance.

At this point I think I'll follow the advice of our ancient and frequent cocktail guest Dame Covington. Dressed in haute couture this evening and dripping in diamonds, she simply said, "We have to give the man a chance, don't we?"

It's not as if we actually had a choice, but I think she's right. Cross our fingers and hope for the best is all we can do right now.

As always, thanks for dropping by this evening. This is not a political blog, so I hope this hasn't been offensive to anyone. It's not my fault our new president is intentionally so tendentious, is it?


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Post Holiday Blues!

Well, well, it's finally all behind us, isn't it? Thanksgiving, charity balls, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year's Eve. All the pretty lights are coming down and the utter madness of gift shopping, menu preparations and travel plans have all been accomplished.

We're left wondering if our gifts were well received or returned to the department store - perhaps shuffled up to the attic, or given away to the homeless. But who cares, really? At least we're relieved that our family obligations are over for the foreseeable months ahead, and that no one seemed to notice or mind that we couldn't remember their names in these infrequent gatherings.

This has been a strange Christmas season around here with our employer running off to Europe for almost all of December. There were no major parties or charity events to deal with, and only a handful of important (which is to say political) cocktail parties. The house decorations were limited as well, no fourteen-foot tree to decorate. And the exterior decorations were just enough to keep our hateful neighbors from gossiping.

This is the time of year when post holiday blues can easily set in for many of us. Nothing major coming up, just dark dreary days and deep winter setting in. There's still some important football games to look forward to, not to mention the Super Bowl coming up on February 5. But that's about it, and not all of us are football fans, are we?

This is also the time of year when many rich people run off to Switzerland to have their eyes done, as well as other significant nips and tucks here and there like butt and breast lifts with plenty of time to heal before the Spring Social Season starts to wind up.

My employer is among this vain crowd, so we're hoping he'll disappear for a few weeks. He had his eyes done last year and still looks like a deer caught in the headlights. So we'll see how much more work his seventy year old face can stand. I just hope he doesn't come out with a permanent smile like so many victims of repeated plastic surgery. It would certainly not suit his grouchy old personality.

In America we do have the spectacle of a curious new president being sworn into office in January, which could serve as comic relief during the winter doldrums. Half the country is elated about his election while the other half is flirting with moving to Canada. Will he be a good statesman, or just blow up the whole damned world? It's anybody's guess at this point, but it should be amusing to watch, in a disturbed sort of way.

The chatter heads on all the US news channels are certainly well occupied these days with this new president elect - to the point where we don't get any news at all! To find out what's going on in the Middle East, Europe, India, Africa, Asia, and South America, I'd recommend tuning into the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) on your TV or on the net. Much more calm, no chattering heads, just straight news the way we need it and want it.

I hope you're not afflicted with post holiday blues too badly, to the extent that I am. The problem is it comes at the same time when a real clinical condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) can set in. It's a mood change during dark cold days during the fall and winter when sunshine is hard to come by, and can lead to both mild and serious depression. Anyone in mental health care can tell you that the nut houses mental institutions fill up during this time of year.

If you find yourself slipping in this dire direction it's advisable to seek professional help right away. I might also mention that lots of champagne and gin martinis make you forget what time of year it is altogether. :)

Thanks for dropping by tonight. I hope this post hasn't been too erratic?