Diary Of A Downsize
Posted by Grady Miller on Mar 22, 2009 - 7:43:54 AM
“. . . Sharon Baum, one of Corcoran’s top-earning agents (she sold the $40 million Duke mansion on
Fifth Avenue in 2006), has decided to get rid of her Rolls-Royce. . . She’s giving it up, she said, because she has come to feel deeply uncomfortable riding around in the Rolls, spacious and well-appointed though it may be. 'I want to adjust to the times,' Ms. Baum said. . . . . [Her] lease on the rolls runs until 2010, and it’s airtight. . . So Ms. Baum may end up paying handsomely for the privilege of looking thrifty, or at least conservative. ”
—The New York Times,
Monday, March 2.
Even I, Feral B. Lister, the thrifty chairman and CEO of Oxymoron Equity Group, have a few excesses to give up, such as puddle-jumping in the corporate jet and flying off to grab a bite of steak tartare in London and catch a show in the West End. Last week, you see, I witnessed something that changed me forever. The passengers of a Jet Blue peered in unison over at our corporate jet, embossed with our logo of a hand with a subliminally upraised middle finger, and I felt their smoldering resentment and envy (but isn’t that what conspicuous consumption is all about, being able to say “I’m bigger and better than you” and not give a damn?), but it just didn’t feel right after appearing on TV last week to announce our new merger with the U.S. government.
Yeah, it was tough giving up the jet, but tough times call for tough decisions. Our lease was airtight and we couldn’t break it, so we are paying $50,000 a month for the next three years, and I’m now flying first class, and meeting some of the little people who have lost every last million they put into our hedge funds. Sacrifices! Sacrifices!
After giving up the jet, I felt a huge weight vanish from my shoulders. People really do look at you differently when you’re riding in a private jet or wearing grosgrain-textured Louis Vuitton skivvies.
I have come to comprehend the “cottage” in the
Hamptons, with its diamond-encrusted, gold-tiled, swimming pool in the form of a Ponzi scheme was sending the wrong message in these times. On a hunch I had the pool drained and converted into a skateboard park. As a businessman I’ve always gone with my hunches, that’s how I got where I am today. The children of the household help are going crazy over the skateboard park, and I’m picking up extra scratch for admission—seems I can’t help turning a profit even in the tough times! And think: if any of the uninsured little tykes caroms off the wall in the deep end and requires treatment at a hospital owned by the equity group, Mom and Dad will be working off the medical bills for decades to come. Yes!
Bambi was dismayed when I told her that her 38 triple D breasts made me feel uncomfortable in these times and that she might consider a surgical reduction. My cheek is still smarting from that miscalculated remark. But like I say: you can never know when to draw the line until you cross it. Bambi understandably is reluctant to downsize her breasts and leave the creature comforts of the seven-bedroom mansion for permanent residence in our
New York townhouse. I say, “What do we need seven bedrooms for?” Bambi shoots back, “In case all your ex wives decide to have a Tupperware party.”
That made me ponder a painful question: did all my wives love me for who I really am or for my money and power?
(Note: check stock prices on Tupperware—it may be a sleeper and, with these hard times, more people are brown bagging it.)
When I start trimming fat, there’s no stopping me. Last night I turned to my walk-in closet full of hand-stitched John Lobb shoes from
London and thought, honestly, how many feet do I have? It isn’t as if I was an octopus, I only have two feet and one torso. I went through my cashmere sweaters, not counting the one I was wearing, there were over two hundred and realized for the time being that I only need one at a time, even if it means cutting back on the subtler shades of periwinkle: color coordination is really a luxury in these times. It didn’t do to have a Color Coordinator in this economy, so I broke the contract with my Personal Color Coordinator, Ms. Sarah Tonin, and gave her a decent parachute, though not golden by any means.
I joked that since getting rid of the corporate jet I won’t be able to take her aloft and push her out somewhere over the
Great Lakes. Sarah laughed, but her eyes weren’t laughing. We connected. . .
Taking advantage of the charity tax deduction, will donate the John Lobb bespoke shoes and cashmere sweaters to the Salvation Army and then my anonymous agent will buy back all the shoes and sweaters. (Hey, the price always goes up when people discover they’re dealing with Feral B. Lister, Chairman and CEO of Oxymoron Equity. It was the anonymous strategy that enabled me to buy
Paraguay on the cheap last summer.)
Tuesday, after naptime
All the household help is really extraneous and a bit pretentious. This morning I instructed Bambi to give the wine steward notice, but we’ll keep the sommelier.
During my afternoon nap, I decided that the yacht was a bit over the top, what with the walk in humidor and the bowling alley (the bowling alley was Bambi’s idea). Also, the moorage in
Monte Carlo is bleeding me. Following my hunches I have bought a used Winnebago motor home, to now serve as rolling corporate headquarters.
We held our first board meeting in the Winnebago, at
(If the Fed can work on Sundays, I can get my people to come in on their nights off.) I’m stoked. It’s a rousing success, and we’ve withstood the porta-potty pestilence. In times like these, it isn’t appropriate to flush the toilet after each use, wasting precious, non-renewable natural resources.
Actually, it’s a policy I first adopted in the townhouse, flushing the toilets only twice daily. However, the odor peeved Bambi, and we have started a trial separation, under to the terms of our pre-nup, which my perspicacious lawyers had foreseen under the category of voluntarily adopted environmental measures not mutually acceptable to both spousal parties.
Now free to pursue the Winnebago dream and roam the country, I kindle the hopes of meeting, regular folks, ordinary Americans, who will love me not only for who I am but who I seem to be.
After stripping down, making monumental personal sacrifices, and throwing off this overwhelming freight of material possessions, I feel more spiritual. I’ve discovered a freer and easier me, one who has fewer qualms about stiffing waiters. And I figure all this enlightenment is costing me—well, not me but taxpayers—$300,000 a month for storage and maintaining contracts. Who needs to work, grub, scheme and greed? I’m ready for post-capitalist labor. Live. Play. Blog. Die. The best things in life are free, except for free radicals and Arabian horses. And, yes, there’s one last thing I can still cut back on. Sotheby’s will be auctioning off my hubris this Saturday in fifty separate lots.
(Note: Have Sneed research what it would take to corner freshwater resources in the
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