Thursday, May 6, 2010
Rich People are from Mars, Poor People are from...who gives a shit where poor people are from...
Were I ever to return to academia (if I could ever AFFORD to...oh, the irony) I'd love to study some mixture of sociology and anthropology so I could study the illusive creatures we shall call "the rich folk". Having lived in Manhattan, attended an Ivy League school, and worked in a luxury industry, I have had an EXTREME amount of up close and personal exposure to the rich folk in their natural habitat.
I have visited them in their homes, cared for their children, feted their accomplishments (holy shit, little Andrew turned 13!! Let's spend a hundred G's!!), and have on occasion raised a glass of Cristal I didn't pay for with them. For 8 very strange months, I even worked as a personal assistant for one very wealthy lady who paid me $30 hourly in CASH to do things like "make my new phone work" (plug it in and/or insert batteries), "return this mohair rug to Hermes" (gladly! ain't never gonna have an excuse to walk in THAT store again), "organize my closet" (it was like the last 25 years of clothing and accessories from Vogue fashion shoots had been laid to rest on the Upper East Side and whoawhoawhoa I got to touch it all!), and even "force me to work out" (poor college student PAID to ride on an elliptical machine next to her in her luxury building's fitness room & spa...sure beats sweating next to anorexic Columbia girls in the underground Dodge Fitness Center).
So yah- I know rich people, and let me tell you something- REAL rich people- not people with pools, and SUVs and summer homes- but people who have REAL old money and wealth and real estate and trust funds and hospitals named after them- they are NOT LIKE YOU AND ME! Around the same time I was working under aforementioned wealthy lady, I was also reading Orson Welle's "The Time Machine" in a class at Columbia. I couldn't help but feel like Manhattan was a place full of Eloi "small, elegant, androgynous, and childlike people" and Morlocks "pale, apelike people who live in darkness underground". Think about it...normal folks...travel underground on the subway, have to enter luxury buildings through SERVICE ENTRANCES (this really appalled me...are delivery guys really too disgusting to even share an elevator with??) and generally toil for the Eloi...I mean rich. Rich women remain impossibly tiny, well-groomed, and elegant but yet many have no ability to relate to anyone outside of their social class nor accomplish tasks that you and I gotta do for our GD selves every GD day while wearing clothes from Target.
Now don't get me wrong- I DO NOT BELIEVE that all wealthy people can be categorized just as I don't believe that all Italians are guidos or all southerners are uneducated hicks. However, I do know for a fact that when all you come from is money and all you know is money and everyone you interact with is money, it really does something to the fundamental core of a person.
I've spent a lot of time thinking about this topic because it's been SO in my face everyday since I moved to Manhattan. Before that, I did not have any idea about rich people. In fact, until I came to Columbia I thought a "banker" was that lady who put the receipt in the little tube and shot it down to you after you make a deposit at the ATM. My mom used to tell me how expensive and wasteful the Abercrombie clothes I wanted to buy were! HA thank God for my mom! Had I been raised with the aquisitive values I've come to know in Manhattan I would be an absolute label-whore bankrupt nightmare instead of the proud bargain shopper I am today (Hey Amanda, nice dress. Thanks- it's from TJ Maxx on clearance - $12!!).
So yah, perhaps one day I'll get a master's in rich-folk-lore. Or host Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous...or "Sober House: The Hills meets the Real Housewives edition" (cuz you know it ain't long til ONE them ladies needs help from Dr. Drew). Oh what a mixed up world we live in.
p.s. PLEASE read this recap of Hills episode two from the WSJ blog (yes, sad but true the freaking Wall St. Journal has a blog that RECAPPED THE HILLS!!!!!!!!!!!). On the brightside it's hilarious and well-written.