Saturday, February 26, 2011

Filthy, Stinking Rich

When Sean “P. Diddy” Comb’s son Justin turned 16 last year, the rap mogul made sure that the young man commuted in style by purchasing him a $300,000 Maybach luxury car as a birthday gift. This year, when Justin qualified for the honor roll, Diddy purchased him a custom Maybach limousine valued at almost $400,000. When questioned about the extravagant gift, Mr. Combs admitted that it was for special occasions like a “first date” and that Justin (like all of his children) really enjoyed the “simpler things” in life.

While I applaud Diddy’s emphasis on academic achievement, perhaps the “simpler things” line was a bit disingenuous. After all, in a world where your first car exceeds the value of the average American home I suspect that “simpler things” is a relative concept like cutting back by firing your personal assistant’s secretary. 
Diddy at last year's Salvation Army benefit gala...
Justin’s story is not unique, and if you have ever sat through an episode of MTV’s Sweet 16 you will realize that there are a growing number of American children who experience a childhood untouched by financial limitations. While my parents worked hard to ensure that my sister and I never went without what we needed, I would not classify us as wealthy. I went to public school, making the honor roll meant I got to pick the restaurant the family ate at and my first car was a used 1993 Chevrolet Cavalier.

I am grateful for that environment because I have always had the sneaking suspicion that I would become a public menace were I to come into substantial monies. I believe that we all have a self-absorbed dark side, but for most people it just remains mercifully underfinanced.

I have decided that if I were to become independently wealthy, the following would occur:

1. I would buy “summer homes” in different countries (preferably without extradition treaties) and constantly lament the difficulty in finding time to visit them all.

2. I would fly first class to impoverished nations while complaining that the Siberian-tiger meatloaf bites I insisted on being served were “too gamey.”

3. I would underwrite a celebrity death match between Rosanne Barr and Kathy Griffin, and then have the winner executed.

4. I would live irresponsibly for the better part of a decade, bottom out at 37 with a VH1 reality series, and then write a bestselling memoir about how misunderstood my personal journey was.

5. I would hire a world-renowned chef just pour my Frosted Flakes in a bowl for me.

6. I would completely outsource the rearing of my ridiculously-named offspring (“Have you met my son Epimetheus and my daughter Saristocrat?”) and then live the remainder of my days in genuine shock when they grow into mal-adjusted adults with expensive prescription drug habits.

7. I would re-purchase all of the same furniture I have now……….for my dog.

8. I would spend hours threatening lawsuits over unacceptable “yacht fees” and the outrageous tariffs on imported-marble utility sinks.

9. My wife and I would be featured on Amazing Vacation Homes on the Travel Channel where our occupations would be listed as Domestic Socialite and Technology Enthusiast respectively.

10. I would start a charity and host outrageously-priced fundraising dinners to benefit fake causes (like endangered sea-bison or children suffering from butterscotch tendonitis) just to see who would come.

All of this is not to say that one cannot be born into economic privilege and remain a grounded, self-less human being. I am just fairly certain I am not that person.  I admire those who wield their fiscal power in a responsible manner, but I am afraid that had I been in P. Diddy’s shoes I would have driven the limo to my child’s school, set it on fire in front of the student body, and then informed everyone that I am so filthy rich that I could afford to ignite the car just because I was cold. That is, unless my personal assistant stopped me….

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