I forgot to post this back when it happened:
I live across from a men’s homeless shelter in Brooklyn. It’s not a big deal. Except for maybe the fact that it looks like a castle. Sometimes there are a lot of ambulances. But mostly there are men shouting.
I understand. The smaller the man, the bigger the voice. It’s a dignity thing. It’s a pride thing. To rob a man of his last shred of dignity and last ounce of pride would be to finish him. And, honestly, with the way the world is today, I wonder why more of us aren’t screaming on street corners, donned in sandwich boards, shaking bells and hollering about the end being really fucking nigh.
Elizabeth Warren’s in town. As is Greta Thunberg. A lot of third world movers and shakers. The U.N. climate summit is this weekend. It’s bullshit. It’s a gesture. It’s kabuki theater. While poor men deprived of everything down to their socks scream on street corners, the Uber rich plot on private jets, at secret viewings at galleries, on Sicilian beaches. They keep their voices down because they don’t have to scream to be heard…their money does the talking. Unless, that is, they’re making a scene to impress a nubile aspiring something or another.
Wealth is such a strange concept. Growing up among them, but not being one of them, meant knowing the secret handshakes to get into the club, the shibboleth required to join the lux club. Sometimes it comes down to manners and confidence. An ability to pull off humility and yet take up enough space to let everyone know you belong in the room.
I’ve had ample opportunities to join them. The rich and the poor. The poor don’t usually accept me. They do, but there’s always this separation. If I have an affect, it’s of being a princess. People start catering to me or get put off by my “diva” quality. There’s not much I can do about it. It’s even there when I am stripped of all artifice. Call it a patrician air. Call it good bone structure. I am never without it. My face never says the truth: that I was born to a fallen noble and an ambitious peasant who raised three girls in a two bedroom house in the poorest county in all of Arizona.
And then there are the rich. I move amongst them, but I can never truly be one of them. If you’re clever enough, you too can be a Talented Mr. Ripley. But you will always be a fraud in your heart. There is definitely something to be said for the company of a man who knows cashmere and Italian leather. Gentility can be intoxicating.
But better to know you can, in times of crisis, blend in. For my druthers, I chose the hungry and ambitious over the born-to-the-manner types. They never understand the scarcity of their company. And they can be callous with affection.
So when asked if I would ever marry rich, I answer with that Shakespearean quote:
No, my lord, unless I might have another for working days. Your Grace is too costly to wear everyday.