Sunday, March 2, 2008

#8: Place Settings with Many Forks

Rich People like fancy dinners, mostly because they like to show off their arcane knowledge of using forks. Rich People have a fork for everything. They have an ice cream fork, which is probably something made up in France. They also have a fish fork, which is not the same as a crab fork or a seafood fork. For dessert, there are pastry forks. Pastry forks can be right-handed or left-handed, because left-handed Rich People like forks, too.

Only three forks are supposed to be in a place setting at any one time, so meals with many courses require the removal and addition of forks as necessary. This is a wonderful opportunity for Rich People to demonstrate their knowledge of forkery.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

News: Wildlife Prefers Rich People

This blog is about stuff Rich People like, but once in a while, there is something that likes Rich People back. Birds love Rich British People. Sorry, Rich Americans.

#7: Single Sex Education

Rich People adore the idea of single sex education. Rich People like to put their children in uniforms and send boys to boys' schools, where they will learn how to be popular and play Rich People sports, and girls to girls' schools, where they will learn how to read Jane Austen and do calculus. Separating boys and girls somehow helps Rich People imagine that their high-school aged children are not snorting cocaine while their Rich People parents take vacations on Cunard or with Abercrombie & Kent. Rich People also think that single sex education somehow stops their children from having sex with other Rich People. This is an incorrect assumption.

Single sex education prepares Rich People for their futures, when boys will grow up to work in investment banks/multi-national law firms and girls will grow up to be members of the Junior League/Tuesday morning golf group/Equestrian society/Gardening circle while their Rich People husbands are off making more money somewhere else. They all learn that mixing with the opposite sex is something that happens only on occasion, and usually involves something called a "mixer," a "sporting event," or a "formal." This pattern is instilled at a young age and follows Rich People throughout their lives. Because of this, some Rich People a long time ago invented things like the Henley Regatta and Wimbledon so they would have a chance to meet women.

Because single sex education can be so tough, it makes Rich People start drinking at a very, very young age, which explains a lot.

#6: Boots

Rich People have many pairs of boots because most of their favorite sports/outdoor activities require boots to be worn: riding, polo, hunting, skiing, snowboarding... the Elitist Sports require so many pairs of boots! Rich People really like the fact that these boots aren't interchangeable. The boots you wear for show jumping and the boots you wear for polo might not be the same. Rich People buy all of these different kinds of boots for horse-related sports in both black and in brown to match all of their different riding/hunting/jumping/polo outfits. Buying so many pairs of boots gives Rich People something to spend their money on.

The winter sports also require boots. Ski boots are a particular favorite of Rich People because they are very expensive and yet extremely uncomfortable. Experiencing the pain associated with wearing expensive but uncomfortable boots helps Rich People feel less guilty about having so much money and spending it to zip down mountains that have been deforested to make nice open pistes for skiing. Most ski boots also have fancy and/or European names that Rich People like, such as Technica, Salomon, K2, and Rossignol. Some of these names are French, or even Swiss, and Rich People like that a lot, because it makes them think of the Alps. Ski boots are also heavy and difficult to pack in suitcases. Rich People think it is really funny to keep wearing ski boots around to bars and pubs after the ski day is finished so that you can show everyone that you look like all of the other Rich People.

Snowboard boots are a little more comfortable than ski boots. This is why Rich People mostly go skiing.

Friday, February 29, 2008

#5: Islands with Small (or No) Runways

Rich People like islands (see England, Australia, St. Barts), but what they really like even more than any old island is a tropical island with a small runway (or, better yet, none at all). This makes the island (1) more exclusive and (2) smaller. Smaller islands are better because they can accomodate fewer tourists, and are therefore more exclusive. Also, small islands feed into Rich People fantasies about owning a private island.

Islands with small runways mean that after Rich People fly First Class (See #1: Flying First Class) to a large or medium-sized island, they have to switch planes, and not even to a small private jet, but to something really small, like a Cessna. Before boarding the Cessna, the pilot has to weigh the Rich People and their luggage and then balance them/it very precisely so that the plane is evenly weighted. Rich People like this, and they think it is kind of "roughing it."

Some islands have no runways at all. This means that Rich People can only reach them by boat. Rich People don't take the ferry. They all have yachts.

The best islands with small (or no) runways are also private islands, but sometimes private islands make Rich People mad, especially if it is not the private island they own or if they don't know the person who does. The whole existence of other people's private islands is a nagging reminder to Rich People that there are other Richer Rich People who do things to be exclusive and get away from just regular old Rich People. Rich People don't like to be reminded of that.

A few islands with small (or no) runways:

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- St. Barts: St. Bart's, or more properly, Saint Barthélemy, has a small runway, but is still very exclusive. It is part of the French West Indies, and because Rich People like French, they like to go there.
- Bonaire: Part of the Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire is only 111 sq. miles in area. The very cute website for its small airport boasts about welcoming "hundreds of guests" each day. That isn't very many people.
- Peter Island in the British Virgin Islands - It doesn't have an airport. Nice.

#4: Lilly Pulitzer Floral Prints*

Rich People, specifically Rich American Women, can't get enough of Lilly Pulitzer floral print dresses, skirts, and most disturbingly, capris. Lilly Pulitzer is the actual name of the woman who started this fashion line. She was school friends with Jackie Bouvier (future Jackie O.), which gives her an almost instant Rich People credibility. Then, when she was 19, she eloped with one of the Pulitzers (the same family that gave its name to the Pulitzer Prize). The Pulitzers moved to Palm Beach (classic Rich American behavior) and Lilly opened a citrus juice stand. She had some dresses made out of citrus-colored prints to hide the fact that she was often covered in orange juice.

It remains unclear whether or not Rich American Women really like to wear ridiculously bright clothes, or whether they do it because of peer pressure or because they read about it in The Preppy Handbook.

* This is definitely an American thing. You don't see Rich French Women running around in Lilly!!

#3: Things that seem "free" but are really just "included"

Rich People don't really get the distinction between "FREE" and "INCLUDED." "Free" means that you're getting something for nothing. "Included" means that you already paid for it somehow. For example, a "free" drink is when you can get someone else to pay for a drink without doing anything in return. An "included" drink is when you pay to get into a club, and then they give you a drink, or when you buy a First Class ticket on an airplane (See #1) and they keep bringing you mini-bottles of Tanqueray. Drinks on the plane aren't free. They are just included. Ditto with those dumbass airplane headphones that won't plug into any other device because they have two prongs. So annoying.

Maybe this is why Rich People join country clubs. The golf and tennis aren't free - they are just included. But they will say something like "oh, let's go golfing, after all, it's free!" You can encounter the same phenomenon in first-class airport lounges, where Rich People tend to hang out before their flights. They sit around and drink coffee or eat the snacks because they think they're "free." Once again, just included. After all, why would a company give something away for free to someone rich? They're the ones who can pay the most to enjoy it.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

#2: Obscure and Expensive International Products

Rich People really like stuff that they can't buy in America. This gives them an excuse/ reason to travel to distant lands just to get their hands on that stuff. Stuff like this is especially good if it is obscure (except in Rich People circles) and, of course, expensive.

There are many categories of obscure/expensive international products. First, we have Obscure/Expensive Cosmetics. Since a lot of these are now becoming more widely available in the United States, Rich People are going to have to find new things to like in this category.

- Molton Brown: from England - you can buy a $23.00 bottle of hand soap and a $100.00 dish to hold the bottle of soap. Also shampoos, conditioners with names such as "Indian Cress," and soaps that come neatly wrapped in little silver papers
- Phyto: Lots of stuff for hair and "anti-aging" from France. It's expensive.
- Bath gels from Bourjois: Another French thing that isn't expensive, but while other Bourjois cosmetics are available in the United States, the bath gels and deodorants are only available in France. Not that expensive, until you factor in the cost of a First Class ticket to Paris (See #1: Flying First Class).

After cosmetics, another category of things that Rich People like are shoes. Rich Women like shoes even more than regular women like them. Even Rich Men like shoes. Here are some obscure and expensive international sources for footwear:

- Bally: A Swiss source of shoes, leather bags, etc. Part of the appeal is that Bally isn't as ubiquitous as Louis Vuitton or Prada or any of the things you can get fake versions of quite easily. Rich people also like the red and white signature stripe, as this makes it obvious that the shoes/bag are from Bally, but it is more "subtle" than a bag that shouts "Prada," so Rich People somehow find this less "pretentious."
- John Lobb: Rich Men really, really like the idea of custom shoes made by an Englishman. Even though there are now John Lobb stores in the United States, Rich People know that the only real place to get these is in London, and preferably at the Jermyn Street location (not Harrods or Selfridges)

Apart from makeup and shoes, Rich People also like food. (This does not include alcohol. Alcohol is it's own category. See #10.) Here are some of the expensive international foods they enjoy. Rich People like pricey foods, and especially ones that have to be flown in from somewhere else / have a ridiculous carbon footprint / have to be collected by hand or found by pigs or obtained by another ridiculously complicated and esoteric means. The most exciting foods are more expensive per unit of weight than cocaine. For example:

- Saffron: This Rich People spice is used in dishes such as Paella and can cost up to $5,000 per pound. A little spice-sized bottle at the grocery store can go for $25.00, and when you open the glass jar, it really just contains a paper packet with a few stems in it. Saffron comes from the stamens of individual crocuses, and it has to be harvested very quickly after the bloom of the flower, which means filling the field with saffron-harvesters working forty-hours straight to get this spice. Saffron is an awesome spice for Rich People because it is not only crazily expensive, but also is ridiculously difficult to grow and harvest, and as a bonus, it comes from Spain.
- Truffles (and not the chocolate kind, either): These pungent relatives of the mushroom look like rocks and sometimes have a taste redolent of gasoline, but they cost between $800/pound (for black truffles) to almost $3000/pound (for white truffles). Truffles are found by "truffle hogs" - pigs that can find the truffles by smell so that they can be dug from the ground - and more recently, dogs. Apparently, female pigs like the smell of truffles because they smell similar to the male pig sex hormone. Take from that statement what you will. And they come from France.
- Caviar: Very expensive sturgeon (it's a fish) eggs that come from exotic countries near the Caspian Sea and Black Sea. In the US, the best kind, Beluga, costs several thousand dollars a pound. The other expensive (but not as expensive as Beluga) varieties are Ossetra and Sevruga. Again, we have a complicated method of harvest -- the fish has to reach maturity, which can take a few decades, and can weigh a few thousand pounds when it gets there. Then, you have to eat it with a spoon made of something like mother of pearl, because a metal spoon ruins the taste.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

#1: Flying First Class

Rich People like flying in First Class for so many reasons. First, it is a chance for them to demonstrate that they can easily throw down $4000 for 4 round trip tickets from New York to Orlando to take their kids to Disney World. In other words, it's a really good way to spend a lot of money on something that is completely unnecessary. Second, they like the fact that, although their tickets cost five times as much as a regular ticket, the drinks, food, and headsets for movies are "free." (See #3: Things that seem "free" but are really just "included")

Third, the extra-large leather seats and gratis Gin-and-Tonics help take their mind off of their horrendous carbon footprint. They also get to check extra bags (Rich People have a lot of clothes) and hang their fancy cashmere and camel-hair jackets up in a closet so they don't look wrinkled when they reach their destination.

Fourth, First Class passengers get to use the special "Rich People" line through security, where everyone has cashmere coats, nicer laptops, and Tumi/Louis Vuitton luggage. This is

Fifth, First Class is an opportunity to meet other Rich People. If you're sitting in First Class, you can pretty much guarantee that all of the people around you are also rich, which means it is "safe" to talk to them. Of course, one of the rules of First Class, and of Rich People in general, is that you should never talk to people that you don't know unless you're asking them to do something for you and paying them in return.

Rich People especially like First Class on international airlines, such as Virgin, (which calls its First Class "Upper Class" to more obviously appeal to Rich People) and any airline that gives you a private cabin with a bed (better for joining the Mile-High Club, which is as close as most Rich People will ever get to "adventurous" sex). When talking about these experiences, Rich People will say things such as "getting there is half the fun!" and then wink at each other. Rich People like the fact that Virgin's Upper Class includes a bar so that you can sit and drink with other Rich People (but not talk... see below). Rich People also like that British Air First Class gives out Molton Brown products for free (see #2: Obscure and Expensive International Products), because even though Rich People are Rich, they often got there by being Very, Very Cheap.

Rich people really, really love it when the flight attendant makes an announcement that "The lavatory at the front of the aircraft is for our First Class guests only. There are two lavatories at the rear of the aircraft for use by our Economy Class guests." They get a secret thrill from knowing that the 200 people in the back have a passenger:lavatory ratio of 100:1, while up front, the ratio is 8:1.