Sunday, I gathered with cousins for an impromptu dinner at Marty’s house. My sister and I drove together following a route given by mapquest. All went exceedingly well for that ride, even though she wasn’t happy with the bridge or cattle chutes along the way.
We followed the directions with no problem and made it to a neighborhood that, well, would not have been out of place on any dramatic series involving a wealthy family. We were a bit nervous, not seeing cars in the driveway. Apparently we were the first to arrive and the family’s cars were in their garage. I offered to knock at the door to see if we had the right place, and was confronted with an intercom. Holy shit. This had to be wrong!
My cousin’s wife answered the door and I’m sure my mouth dropped open. This was a huge house with a grand piano in the music room which was across the hall from the formal dining room. The french doors opened into a large comfortable family room and a granite and steel kitchen area which was surrounded by stools for casual munching. Beside that was a breakfast area with floor to ceiling glass windows. Jesus! All I could think was that my house could fit into this area and it wasn’t even half of the house already!! From the windows I could see an upper deck where they could use their gas grill. The lower deck surrounded the pool area and beyond that was the batting cage. YES, a batting cage!
When my cousin entered the room, the comfort level returned…for a bit. He showed my sister and I around the rest of the house and we were stunned by what a party palace this was. The basement was the entire length of the house, carpeted wall-to-wall and complete with a pool table, foosball table, shuffleboard, darts and air hockey table all within viewing distance from the full bar. (It turns out lots of the furnishings and entertaining pieces were left by the previous owners who were divorcing and downsizing)
My cousin chatted with us, offering us drinks and it felt like we’d never been apart. He’s my age and we’d been fairly close as kids. My sister needed to use the powder room and I took the opportunity to ask him where the hell the money came from. Turns out, when his parents passed, he made good investments. His business is doing well, but still, he is in debt to his eyeballs. They don’t entertain. His daughter is away at college and his son will be there soon as well. Seven bedrooms and only him and his wife. It’s overkill. Such a waste of resources!
The rest of the family arrived and we enjoyed the visit. I was impressed that he has become quite the host. This was his party, not hers. He did the food, the drink, the planning. He did the cleaning up and serving. It was awesome. Until….my mom starting shooting me disapproving glances when I used the word “freakin'” in place of “fuckin'”. I was urged to use a glass in place of a can or bottle of beer. Another cousin scolded me for making a crude joke-not aimed at anyone, just overheard. Now I was uncomfortable. So was my sister. We have become the klassy kousins. The others are not wealthy, they just pretend they are. I remember when some of them ate dirt in the backyard! I remember when we shared hand-me-downs. I’ve seen them falling down, throwing up drunk. The people in front of me had a stick up their ass and looked around to see if their spouses were watching them.
Later, alone with Marty, I noticed a sadness in his eyes. I asked what was up and he told me. The debt is an issue between him and his wife. This house was her choice and he was pressured by his in-laws to make her happy. He worries all the time. Business is good but it stresses him. Surrounded by all the “opulence” he longs for hotdogs and mac and cheese, not organic foods with fancy names.
On the outside, it looks like he has it all.
I’ll keep drinking my beer in my skeeter filled backyard. I’ll cook in my 5′ x 10′ kitchen.
Now I know that I’m the one who has it all.