Thursday, March 01, 2007

Between A Rock and A Prada Place

It's not polite to speak of money, you know. Or so the motto of the wealthy and cultured goes. What that statement really translates to is the following: It's not polite to talk about money with people who have less than you. It's not polite to talk about specific amounts of money. It's not polite to speak of how much money you make, how much something cost or how much money you lost in the market. It is, however, acceptable to discuss with people who have roughly the same amount as money as you people who have much more money than you. For instance, it's acceptable to talk with X, who is in the same bracket as you, how much Y, who is on the Forbes list, paid for his Palm Beach house. In other words, it's fine for millionaires to speak about billionaires, but it's not okay for billionaires or millionaires to talk about those who have substantially less than they do. That would be crass.

I've always divided the wealthy—again, rich is simply not an acceptable word—into a few categories. There are the uber-wealthy; the $500 million+ group. There are the very wealthy; the $100-$500 million group. Then there are the wealthy; $10-100 million. And finally, the well-off set; $10 to a $5 million. I am as usual just expressing my own opinions, which are naturally colored by my own limited, sheltered experiences.

My point with all this is multifaceted. The progeny of the very wealthy typically have trust funds and therefore, even if they do choose to work, don't really have much to worry about.

But many children of merely wealthy or well off people, do not typically have trust funds, and thus, though they may be extremely spoiled, are always dependent on mommy, daddy, husband or wife. As this relates to me, again without speaking of money per say—because that would be impolite—this puts me in a precarious position.

I have always been impossibly spoiled, since I was born, first by my grandparents and later my parents, mainly my mom, because she controlled the money. I never wanted for anything; I had a clothing allowance at age 11; by age 16 I was shopping exclusively in New York and wearing only designer clothes. I was, and still am, crazy. At 31, I have more jewelry and designer clothes and accessories than most 50-yea-olds. And please don't get me wrong, I know this is sick.

Herein lies the problem—yes, I am a spoiled girl, er, woman. Yet I am not independent, precisely because I have always been so spoiled and have never had to be independent. My parents have always paid my rent, even when I worked full-time. In our defense, working full-time in New York does not pay the rent on an Upper East Side apartment.

So now at 31 I am crippled by the fact that I only know the finest things in life and that certainly isn't changing at this late point. Is it reasonable to expect me to go from Bergdorf's to H&M? No, frankly, it's not. Am I proud of what I have turned into? Noooo. The only thing I ever wanted was to be successful and independently wealthy. Yet my family are not Forbeses, meaning Daddy doesn't have the power to call up the CEO of Conde and get me a job. Nor do I have a trust fund to invest my own money in a business. And of course, there is the misconception that just because I am spoiled that I do not want to work or would not be a good worker, which could not be further from the truth. I am passionate about magazines, fashion, travel, accessories, editing and writing. And if I were offered a job at a magazine I respected, I would take it, regardless of salary.

My point with all of this is that when you are raised as I was and you are 31 and you find yourself without a job and without your own money but with a closetful of designer clothes what do you do? You could do what you have always done—the immature thing—move to yet another city, have your parents get you another apartment while you fruitlessly look for a job. Or you could do the mature (yet completely pathetic and humiliating) thing—you could move home, live rent-free, look for jobs, get your shit together, write and save your very generous parents some money. And live a little more guilt free. So I'm sacrificing my pride—I can't believe my life has come to being single, 31 and living at home in a city I loathe—to save my parents $2000 a month.

Another point with all of this is that if you are going to be the kind of parent who spoils your kids to their hearts' content, please make sure that you will be able to do this for the rest of their lives. Give them a trust fund; some independence; a business to run; something. Because if you don't, they will turn out like me: a spoiled, ne'er do well crippled by her privileged, pampered existence.