Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Son of Privilege

Just saw a CNBC interview with Michael Gates Gill the author of How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else.

What a pantload!

Son of privilege is right.

Son of Brendan Gill, New Yorker critic and columnist, he grew up in a Bronxville mansion with regular guests like John and Jackie Kennedy, Ernest Hemingway, John Updike and Brendan Behan showing up for tea and crumpets and Chivas Regal. His life story is a prototype blueprint illustrating how birth privilege provides a safety net for all manner of irresponsible behavior.

Drop out of college... not a problem when your frat buddy can get you a job at his Daddy's Madison Avenue advertising agency.

Marry, divorce... have an affair... marry divorce... have an affair... father more children... Hey, just brush it off with trust-funds, inherited money and a six-figure salary from advertising giant J. Walter Thompson.

Then, when you run out of great ideas like "Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz." and they toss you out on your butt, just use friends and family to fund a vanity consulting business. Go bust? Well, it wasn't your money anyway.

Then what? No more money, nobody left to borrow from, no job prospects and no wife.

Ever wonder why a young woman would be attracted to a pasty-faced, balding, pot bellied has been? Duh... he's rich.

Not rich anymore? Not married anymore either.

So this modern day Siddhartha, who had never taken a subway ride until forced into it by penury, had a revelation while rubbing up against the unwashed:

Eureka! Simplicity is key to happiness!

Now that his sob-story memoir has become a best seller, soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, his advice for America is simplify your life, reduce your overhead and live the life of a modern-day Thoreau.

Great idea, Einstein.

Why didn't the rest of us think of that?

Tell a young family that runs out of money on Wednesday and has to wait until payday on Friday to buy groceries that they should lower their overhead and live simply. If you live in a 25-room mansion, like Mr. Gill once did, it's easy to scale back. For the rest of us it's hang on for dear life and ride out the storm.

My father worked in a sweatshop, when he wasn't on layoff. We ate plenty of spaghetti for dinner. Then I got to college on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and discovered that all those "Sons and Daughters of Privilege" who all grew up without a care believed in the nobility of poverty. They actually envied those of us who had nothing and didn't hesitate to tell their therapists and anyone else who would listen.
Let them try it for a day or two.

This morning I started writing a book entitled...

"How Having Plenty of Money Saved My Life: A Son of The Working Class Learns to Live Like a Child of Privilege."

What are the chances that Tom Hanks will give me a $50,000 advance for the rights?

Excuse me while I go plunge my hands into boiling water and wait for Mr. Hanks' people to text message my people.

Uh, oh... L'il Angel--my 15 year old daughter--just yelled out that she's ready to be chaufered off to school. On the way I'll ask her what she thinks of switching over to the simple life.

"Live like everybody else, Dad? We already live like everybody else."

I guess the romantic view of everybody else is a little bit different from up on that perch in Westchester.