Monday, January 23, 2006

What Susan Orleans' huge house teaches me

Why do I get upset reading about Susan Orlean's huge house in the New York Times? Am I upset about the conspicuous consumption -- or is it the lack of awareness in Orlean of the precious surroundings she's ensconced within?

No, I think it's deeper. Psychologically (stay with me, boogelly!) I must still think that I'm some poor, lower-middle class Marxist fist-shaker lobbing jagged pieces of schist at the frosted glass and delicate wainscotting of the better heeled, trying to make Jack Welch feel guilty about the kind of wealth he's stockpiled. Turn the rangefinder of my bolt-action sniper rifle around 180ยบ, though, and I find that I can no longer claim to be dispossessed and downtrodden (as I might have fancied my upbringing to be, which is pretty much buttressed by fact).

I have done the calculus: I'm bourgeois now, too much so to get aimlessly angry at people who are, now I find out, much like me. Or, I'm like them; whate'er. Point is, my income and my station and intimates are all rarified now, and the things I enjoy in life are, in fact, the Susan Orleans home, the five-year-old sheep gouda, and the Thomas Pink shirt.

Shake a fist at me, me! You tell him!