Club Moi
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – I am often asked what it's like to be a full-blown, highly functioning narcissist. Well, it has its moments. On one hand, there's the pleasure of being the center of the universe, second only to God and the executive reporting structure above me. On the other, it's tough to find company worthy of me and all my wisdom, power, and magnificence.

So while I'm generally satisfied with the honor of being me, it's also, at times, lonely work. Occasionally I want people around me who are worthy of my vision of myself, whatever that may be on any given day. Perhaps that's why I and so many obnoxious turds like me are always looking for a social club that can entertain us and feed our souls in an environment that does no offense to our grandiosity and sense of entitlement.

I was pleased, therefore, to receive in the mail the other day an invitation to join perhaps the snottiest club that has ever made its way into my line of sight. I'm going to call it the Crux, because that word conveys, in a small way, the massively portentous nature of the organization that its founders would like to communicate to all the gigantic boneheads who will, they hope, wander into their plush domain. And for a moment, as I looked over the boxed set that is its offering, I was tempted.

First, about the sales vehicle. It's not a brochure. To call it one would be like calling a $1,200 truffle a "mushroom." I once owned, in the age of vinyl, a boxed set of Beethoven's symphonies. That's how big this thing is.

It's all in white, the big box of status offered me, and embossed on the cover in silver are the words: THE CRUX. In the inside of the box cover is a gigantic, almost imperceptible, white raised design that is the interlocking logo of the club, a pattern meant to communicate the idea that all of life's pathways lead to the center of something. The Crux.

Inside, on top of the other stuff, is a two-page, single-spaced letter addressing the club's goals; its philosophy, which is a mixture of Nietzsche, Darwin, and the Dalai Lama with a hint of Dennis Kozlowski thrown in; its potential membership; and its proposed facilities, which will make Versailles look kind of shabby. This letter appeals to my vanity, which is always a good start with people like me.

There follows a set of soft-cover tomes, 12 inches by 12 inches, each in ultra-super-heavyweight paper. The first articulates the Crux Principles, which include Individualism (the first one, naturally), Wisdom, Truth, Beauty, Power, Joy. "There are those you leave behind and those who from whom you never part," says the text for the last big Crux idea, which is the Social Order. "You are who you choose to be with." The picture with this text is a shot of the Andromeda Nebula, its stars rotating together to make one glorious pinwheel, each an exquisite pinpoint of light contributing to the beautiful whole.

Right, I thought. That's what it's like to belong to something. The lonely narcissist inside me sighed. And twitched. To belong to something worthy of me!

The tomes that followed were not quite as pompous, and certainly more informational. One addressed the facilities, which will stretch up over five floors in a new glass tower about a block from my office. I was intrigued by something called the Wet Treatment Room, which sounds rather nice. There were glorious architectural renderings, since right now the Crux exists only in the minds of its founders. And then came the final document, the Founding Members Program.

I won't bore you with the details, but it's possible that buying a condo would be easier. The bottom line is that joining the Crux would set me back $100,000. My narcissism may cost a lot on a daily basis, but I'm not yet at the point where I would part with a hundred grand to feed and water it, even in the Wet Treatment Room. And I'm not big enough to rationalize a membership on company plastic. So I guess I still have to walk alone. That's okay. When you've been a narcissist for as long as I have, you get used to it.

When I was a kid I belonged to the Cub Scouts for a few weeks; then it felt sort of paramilitary, and I quit. Later I was in a bowling league, but that cost only the price of the lane and shoes. In college I decided to join the European Health Spa, paid the membership fee of $300, and never went again, not once. More recently I belonged to a beach and tennis club I never went to except twice, for dinner.

I don't want you to think I'm a complete lone wolf, though. I do belong to my pension fund, which is something. And recently I got a membership at the Price Club, where I may go and share the values of my fellow members in an atmosphere of atavistic greed and confusion. A flat-screen monitor for $200? Ten pounds of Fritos for six bucks? Now, those are some good values, believe you me.

By day, Stanley Bing is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name. He can be reached at