When American Airlines declared bankruptcy in late 2011, I decided to cash in all my air miles and “treat myself.” I’m well aware that this statement makes it seem that “treating myself” is a relatively rare occurrence. But, the happy fact is that I treat myself every day. That’s the nice thing about not having children: you are free to spend your pennies as selfishly and foolishly as you like.
But these weren’t pennies. These were air miles and I had mountains of them, because I’m somewhat of a financial idiot and had no idea that they could be used for something other than upgrades on overseas flights. They’re actually like money and can be used to purchase completely unnecessary stuff, which is my favorite kind of stuff.
So, I looked at the list of stuff I could exchange for miles and decided on the most ridiculous and expensive item on the list: a three-night stay at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City.
Here’s a quick tutorial on the Carlyle, in case you are unfamiliar with this country’s luxurious adultery grounds. The hotel is on the Upper East Side, aka Wasp Central, and is the place where JFK used to schtup starlets. He actually used a secret tunnel to the hotel to keep his assignations out of the media. The hotel is ghastly expensive and far removed from the garishness of Time’s Square. It’s also home to the famous Café Carlyle, one of the coziest and costliest cabarets in the world.
I’ve always wanted to stay there because, in spite of the fact that I’m a socialist in the Scandinavian sense of the word and, thus, prone to standing on bar stools and proclaiming “power to the people” when tipsy, I love luxury hotels. I love well-stocked mini-bars, plush robes, and fancy soaps. I don’t think there’s anything in the Socialist handbook that says you can’t pamper yourself occasionally.
When I told my girlfriend that we were staying at the Carlyle, she looked stricken. “They won’t like it,” she said with real fear in her eyes. By “they” she was referring to the super wealthy, that odd species of human that doesn’t need to use air miles to pay for its hotel stays.
My girlfriend owns a company that services the very rich, so she’s quite familiar with their bizarre rituals and habitats. She talks about the rich in the same awed, head-shaking fashion that we normal mammals speak of weird mammals, like the platypus. Platypuses are mammals, but they lay eggs and they don’t have nipples like the rest of us mammals. Because they have no nipples, their milk just sort of leaks out of their chests and their egg-babies have to lick it off them. They’re odd, fascinating, and kind of gross, just like the super rich.
I’m not rich, but I make a comfortable living and I own a hot tub, which makes most of my friends pea green with envy. If I ever did get wealthy, I’d live much the same as I do now, except I’d probably keep some exotic animals as pets. Yes, that’s the type of rich person I’d be: the one with perpetually messed up hair that walks a lobster on a leash through the public square. I’d also drink a lot more champagne. And, maybe, get a butler.
“Oh, don’t be silly,” I told my girlfriend, as I slipped into an old sweater and ratty jeans and zipped up my travel duffle bag. “We fit in everywhere. The rich will think we’re one of them.”
Stay tuned for the next episode, when I report back from the front lines of the super rich and fill you in on what the Wall Street protestors can learn about punishing the wealthy from the waiters, hotel staff and store clerks who service them.