Just Like Paradise

Speaking about the gulf between rich and poor, I’m driving a $146,425 car.  BEFORE TAXES!

I normally drive a pocket rocket, a rice burner.  I got it for $9500 off.  Hell, who wants a Subaru that says SAAB?  Yup, under the skin, my car is a Subaru WRX.  A poor man’s Porsche.

And why am I poor?

I’ve been thinking about this.  Seems to have something to do with my Middlebury education.  None of my fellow alumni are rich, certainly not my friends.  Instead, they constantly go on about how POOR THEY ARE!  Driving cars held together with chewing gum, wearing ratty clothes, as if their almost homeless lifestyles evidence something holier than thou.

But I alone live in SoCal…  Where it’s a dash for cash.  Hell, I remember the first day of law school, when some kid said he was in it for the MONEY!  You might think that on the east coast, but you’d never SAY IT!

Then again, the money culture has invaded my homeland too.  With all those bankers raping and pillaging.

Meanwhile, I’m sitting with my chin in my hand trying to figure it all out.  I don’t want to sell my soul like the rest of the baby boomers did back in the eighties.  But my shrink, a Harvard man himself, constantly asks me how come I can’t have anything, why I have to approach the world with my pockets turned out, like I don’t count.

And I don’t want to go Nordstrom and buy the latest fashions.  Hell, I certainly don’t want to go to the shops on Rodeo.  I don’t want to be Bob Dylan in his Jerry Weintraub era, dressed in a silk shirt.  Then again, maybe I have it dialed down too tight. And I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have a secret desire to be rich.  Oh, not Wall Street rich, just rich enough to be able to ski every day (and write every night!), to not be worried about the bills.  I believe if I just sit in front of this computer long enough, tap the keys hard enough, eventually the money will flow.  Right out of the printer.  That’s what I’m waiting for, home cash machines.  Why do we have to drive to the ATM?

Not that I’m into get-rich-quick schemes.  I tried those in the eighties, they don’t pan out, you’ve got to have the personality.  A take no prisoners there are no obstacles in life if the little people get squashed so be it attitude.  And I’m all about the little people.

Then again, too many of the little people take themselves out of the equation.  Bitch that they don’t have when they don’t try. HARD!  I believe in a social safety net, everyone should have a roof over his head, food to eat, health care, but not everybody can be rich and famous.  You’ve got to WORK for that.  Even those reality TV stars.  It ain’t easy to get on the tube.  Then again, they don’t realize that’s just the BEGINNING!  You’ve got fame, NOW WHAT?

Rockin’ steady in her daddy’s car
She got the stereo with the big guitars
And that’s all right

My daddy never drove a car this nice.  But when his Mercury blew a valve and he did a favor for someone he got the opportunity to buy a Mercedes for one third off and took the leap.  And never turned back.  He always criticized our neighbor for being too into his car, for not allowing anybody else to drive it, but suddenly my dad was the same way.  And when that machine got totaled, he bought another.  And another.  Always slightly used.  Always top of the line.  He marveled at the dropping jaws after telling clients he drove a small foreign car.

And I had the same experience on Monday.  When Fred dropped me off.  When I told him this was my car, he said "The Blue Honda?"

No, the Audi A8 across the street.  The low-slung Ferrari-looking machine.  The racy big brother to the Q5 he was driving.

And Fred’s jaw dropped.

Suddenly, I went from loser to winner.

And that’s what I’ve felt like this whole past week.  A winner.  Putting the pedal to the metal as the radio blares and the engine roars and the car fills up with that sweet smell.

I got the itch and a restless soul
She gone with the wind
Gonna go for broke tonight, yeah
And that’s all night

Purring up Beverly Glen, writhing over Malibu Canyon.  I’m wringing those 420 horses for all they’re worth.  Living the California dream.

Girl, we’ve been meant for this
Since we were born
No problems now, the coast is clear
It’s just the calm before the storm

What was I born for?  My father started off with nothing, bought a liquor store and ended up the best real estate appraiser in the State of Connecticut.  Doesn’t sound too impressive, but it allowed him to have the income of a doctor or lawyer, go on vacation, drive that aforementioned Mercedes, send three kids to private colleges and graduate schools.

Maybe I grew up too comfortable.

Maybe I went to too good a school.

I’m lost.  Trying to figure out what I should want, who I should be.

This must be just like livin’ in paradise
And I don’t want to go home

Complaints.  The car isn’t easy to get out of, it’s like driving on the ground.  And when you turn the radio knob to the right the pointer goes up, not down.  And there’s no sunroof.  In other words…NOTHING!

And before I looked at the Monroney, before I found out the car was $25,000 more than I thought, I was contemplating…  This is a reasonable goal, enough money to buy a $125,000 car.  Not that I’d spend that much money on a car.  But I’d like to be ABLE TO!

Then again, why not?

Unlike a Ferrari, the clutch is easy, the gearbox is smooth, it’s just like driving my Saabaru, except that when I floor it my body is thrown back into the seat and I’m afraid of both the Grim Reaper and the police simultaneously.

And I was telling myself I’m not worthy.

Then my thinking switched.  They came looking for me.  Sure, they expect me to write what a great fucking car the A8 is, but they’re not looking for anybody else in my neighborhood, I EARNED IT!

My compensation is funny.  It’s not in cash.  It’s in travel, concert tickets and restaurant meals.  My lifestyle is pretty good, but I feel uptight about leaving early, saying I’ve had enough, what if I had my own dough?

Food for thought.

Until then…

If you see some boomer driving around way too fast in a rare, low-slung machine know IT’S ME!

P.S. It goes back tomorrow…  I’m so PISSED!

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