Luxury for middle managers
It is possible for those of us who must scrimp on pay packages of less than $2 million a year to live the high life.
Now, this topic, while of intense interest to virtually everyone in any economic stratum whatsoever, leaves those of us without even a plan to acquire a yacht or a polo pony in a discursive state of mind.
On the one hand, it is great fun to fantasize about owning your own island, driving an automobile whose hood ornament costs more than your brother-in-law's house, or flying in a plane with your name on its tailbone. On the other hand, the fact that these things seem out of reach may leave many feeling covetous, angry, or just plain sad.
Certainly there are many pleasures to be had in the simple things of life: dining on fine chuck, drinking $10 wine from plastic cups that only improve its bouquet, watching nonsubscription television, writing with disposable implements. That's real life, and most of us know it all too well.
Still, it is possible for those of us who must scrimp on pay packages of less than $2 million a year to live the high life. All it takes is a little daring and a certain willingness to stretch the existing greenback until the eagle grins.
Let's start with alcohol, because here is where we can make decisions that have the most impact. Do you know the difference between an $8 and $18 bottle of cabernet? No? It's considerable. Add a few sawbucks, whatever they are, and you've got yourself a bottle of swill that would set you back nearly 100 bucks at some swanky joint where the waiters consider themselves (and probably are) more cultivated than you. Are you going to miss that $20 or $30 in the long run? I don't think so.
Forget about wine. Let's talk about booze, the real stuff that makes your mouth water when you think about it. The cheap Scotch you stock is an insult to your aspirations. There are truly great single malts made by hairy little trolls in the Hebrides that will make your calves sing, they're so tart and laden with peat and bog -- heavy, viscous, scrumptious. The Prince of Plaza Toro couldn't get better.
Vodka your poison? The real Russian stuff? Let me tell you. It's delicious, and it costs a mere $30 more than the stuff Lindsay Lohan has been drinking. Can you spare that piddling sum? Of course you can! And it's the best investment you ever made -- a lot better than most of the stocks I've sunk dead money in for the past 20 years. Plus, the results are guaranteed.
One must eat as well as drink, naturally, so let's talk about cheese. I like a nice cheddar melt as much as the next guy, but there's a world of fine fromages out there almost as plentiful as the number of noses to sniff at them. So what if a small cube of Montrachet costs as much as a tank of gas? Aren't you worth it?
Doesn't it make you feel different when you put that tiny dollop of pure pleasure on ... hold on now. What's that cracker you've got there? I'm not going to mention its name because -- who knows? -- it might be an advertiser. But you deserve better, my friend. Try this crusty flatbread from somewhere not far from where Osama bin Laden is hiding. Tasty, ain't it? And well within your bracket. Steak! Pasta! Butter, even! Do you know how soul-enticing Danish butter can be? It's spun into gold by Danish buttermaids. I can say no more.
Let's look at your car. All right, you're not getting a Maybach. Who needs one? Yes, it's the best car in the world, but how do you feel when you get behind the wheel of your new Chrysler 300C? It has eight cylinders. It goes from zero to 60 in about five seconds. It's sleek and lean and you can burn right past that prissy Maserati (which is also a very fine car that I would accept if they wanted to give me one). And it's just a few bucks more than that pathetic, bourgeois buckboard you were thinking about.
They say God is in the details. What that means is that when you fly business to the hotel suite that cost you $3,000 instead of $1,800 because the bedding makes you feel like Barry White or Angelina Jolie, depending, you're saying yes to something ineffable. When you purchase that tasty ring or jaunty hat or pair of succulent $500 shoes for the person you love, you are making a declaration that luxury is not only for the rich, damn their eyes.
And if you end up spending an extra, say, five or 20 or 30 grand on all this stuff? The cheese, the wine, the things that made you smile? Dudes! Who needs a million bucks? Give me $25,000 and the will to spend it right, and I am in heaven!