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The Trouble With Rich Friends

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Dickens might have described my younger self as “a young gentleman with the particular misfortune of having been born bereft of any expectations at all.”

On the other hand, all of my friends would have garnered expectations up the wazoo.

You see, I grew up with rich kids and while that posed some logistical problems involving getting by in restaurants, bars, and nightclubs on an infinitesimally inferior budget to that of my compatriots, I did not until now, realize the real pitfalls of having wealthy friends.

For starters, we’re all here in New York City because we want to “make it.” I’m not talking about fame. But you can bet your ass I’m talking about fortune. Someday, the floors of my apartment will not slope at a 20° angle. Someday the pipes in my building won’t be so narrow that the toilet is constantly clogged. Someday, I will pay for Internet. How these improvements are supposed to happen remains a mystery and yet I can fantasize once in a while, about having my friends from high school over years in the future and giving them the grand tour of my townhouse in the UES, my mansion in Greenwich, CT, or my vineyard in California. And yet the truth is that my high school friends will never be impressed. They will smile, ask some questions about the sculpture table in the entryway, and perhaps commend me on my excellent taste. However, that sweet moment where I get to detect that delicious mix of envy and surprise in their eyes as my butler takes their coats will never be mine to savor. Why? Because they already have those things. So does everyone they know. They’ve been balling it up at that party for 25 years already and I just showed up. We’ll have fun romping around my vineyard. Our UES dinner parties will be flavorful and merry. Yet, just like the kid who showed up with new LA Lights two years after everyone had stopped wearing them, I won’t be expecting to receive any extra swag for my efforts.

The second big problem is vacationing. I know people who seem to vacation all the time. They assure you that when they are working, they’re doing the 70-hour week. Besides, they have high stress jobs. Yet they still find time to take off on a whim for a séjour in the Loire Valley. And they always invite you. Meanwhile, you’ve got no job and a few thousand in the savings account. The first time you say “yes!” believing this sudden and luxurious vacation to be a once in a lifetime occasion and therefore an excellent way to spend every last dime to your name. But only a few months after your return from what turned out to be a way more expensive trip that you had thought fiscally possible, they jet out again… Dubai… Hong Kong… the fucking Burning Man Festival (the PREFERRED festival of the young and rich). Well you’re wad is blown so you can’t go and are therefore relegated to seeing Facebook pictures pop up over the next month in what seems like a determined effort to prove that this last vacation was in every way superior to that last one, and light years better than the one you joined in on. I’ve come very close to asking certain couples I know to just come up with a vacationing schedule maybe a year in advance, so that I can select the most excellent prospect and plan accordingly. Poor people plan. They don’t whim.

But the most annoying thing about rich friends is the terrible realization that you aren’t better than them. I came to this conclusion the other night when I was out and about with some compadres from my tender years. One of them opened a bar tab after which I didn’t pay for a single drink that night. The bill came to a sum more exorbitant than I would dare utter in these broke-ass pages. Two thoughts shot across my neural network of my mind. The first was: “wow that was enough money to pay my rent. The things I could do with that money.” The second was: “and if I had that kind of cash, I would be doing exactly the same thing he just did.”

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Jules Owen - Wandering Wastrel

Jules Owen - Wandering Wastrel

Going to a rich kid school when you aren't even given an allowance certainly trains you to live large on the cheap. Armed with such expertise, Jules travelled the globe, surviving off of 50 cent beers and 2 dollar meals everywhere from Buenos Aires to Mumbai. Three years ago he returned to the United States, living first in Baltimore while he settled a debt with the IRS, then in Brooklyn where he plays music and writes. He aspires to one day live in a van on N.15th and Kent.