The Unbearable Banishment: They Say It's Your Birthday

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

They Say It's Your Birthday

On Sunday we went to a birthday party for a 3 year-old that was thrown by an insanely wealthy family. Not merely rich and comfortable mind you, but a degree of wealth that is rare, even for this prosperous country. Out in the suburbs, birthday parties for children have taken on the seriousness and grandeur of a presidential inauguration and they require the same degree of planning and careful execution as does a military operation. I believe that this unhealthy trend was born out of a parents' insecurity about their place in society and, more than anything else, a lack of anything better to do.

I don't know these people. I hadn't met them before. In fact, Mrs. Wife barely knows them and we are still wondering why we received an invitation in the first place. However, as soon as we saw the address and realized that it was in the high net worth district, we thought we should go. If nothing else, it would give me a new benchmark for my own mediocrity. The "house" was across the street from Jon Bon Jovi's "house." (He has a pretty nice "house" too.) We pulled into the gated driveway and looked up to the top of a hill and saw, what appeared to be, a medium-sized hotel. Six year-old said, "Wow! They live in a palace!" My house, in contrast, has faded yellow vinyl siding and a driveway that floods when it rains hard. We drove up a winding driveway (that, I'm betting, doesn't flood) through a—not kidding— vineyard where the—not kidding—Mexicans toiled in the field pruning the grapevines. We parked the car and, me feeling a bit like Jed Clampett, walked up a grand stone staircase to the main entrance to the palace. It was beautiful, but in a McMansionish kind of way. It wasn't the kind of classic old mansion they could use as a location to film an adaptation of a Jane Austin novel. This is better suited to film one of Martha Stewart's Caucasian tomes.

We were greeted at the door by The King himself and after some perfunctory introductions and an uncomfortable moment, I handed him the birthday gift and made my way into the dining room where a large round table in the center of the room was loaded down with food. It was only 10:30 the morning so they served a brunch. I am here to testify that I had The Most Amazing Bagel I have ever eaten. And I've eaten tens of thousands. I sliced open a pumpernickel bagel that was as big and soft as a pillow and loaded it down with lox, Sopressa Salami and whitefish spread. Heaven in every bite, my friends.

After stuffing my face and insuring that I smelled like a fishmonger with a caffeine addiction, I sought out The King to thank him for his hospitality. I told him how much I admired the painting above the fireplace and he said that he picked it up while honeymooning in Bali. Because of the insecurities, envy and deep feelings of inadequacy that I've been carefully nurturing my whole life, I badly wanted to dislike these people. I wanted to believe that, despite their ludicrous wealth, they were unhappy and lacked a soul. The fact is that both The King and The Queen could not have been nicer to my family and their two children seemed to be perfectly charming. I had no choice but to put my judgment and negative preconceived notions back on the shelf for another day and enjoy their hospitality. Drat.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a delightful piece and so true, thoroughly enjoyed this!

April 16, 2008 at 9:25 AM  
Anonymous nuttycow said...

Don't you just (want to) hate people like that!

Grr.

April 28, 2008 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger John said...

Well said. I hate people like that. Bad personalities should be the price of admission to that rarified atmosphere. Nice AND rich? It's just not fair...

April 28, 2008 at 3:07 PM  
Blogger Chocolate Sandwich said...

Great piece: witty, direct, no nonsense, no self-indulgent opinion on things beyond the average man's control. This is what blogging should be like if it is ever to be taken seriously.

Thanks.

April 30, 2008 at 7:01 AM  

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