What People Do When They Have Too Much Money

The population of Aspen comprises two types of people: the Very Rich and the Very Intelligent. The Very Rich go to Aspen to ski, golf, and to check off items on the list below. The Very Intelligent go to Aspen to attend meetings at The Aspen Institute, or simply to be Very Intelligent in a mountainous setting.

Being neither, it is quite surprising that I got there at all, and further yet – on a private jet. Somehow I did, and although I learned a thing or two from the Very Intelligent people, what I really gained insight on is the lives of the Very Rich. Here is what they do with all of their rich-ness.

My feet getting accustomed to luxury

  1. Get facelifts.
  2. Attend dinner parties, benefits and other events they cannot stand.
  3. Host dinner parties, benefits and other events they cannot stand.
  4. Buy a dog of an obscure breed and show off that he is superb at doing X. Usually something unheard of, like fetching a ball.
  5. Send the dog to a spa.
  6. Actually, I am not kidding.
  7. Get their kids tested for ADD, ADHD, Stupidity and all sorts of conditions that we all have, just don’t have the money to know about.
  8. Buy only organic food.
  9. Buy only organic food for the dog.
  10. Buy second homes.
  11. Buy third homes.
  12. Buy Ferraris.
  13. Buy yachts.
  14. Buy private jets.
  15. Buy good ol’ pickup trucks.
  16. I am kidding.
  17. Eat gourmet.
  18. Hire personal trainers to get rid of the “gourmet” around their waists.
  19. Hire a nanny (Hooray for nannies! Hooray for people with too much money)!
  20. Hire a chef.
  21. Give the chef a list of allergies and restrictions regarding each member of the family. During a different nannying job, I was warned about a kid who was “allergic to caviar”. If I would have been asked what “caviar” was when I was his age, I probably would have said a musical instrument.
  22. Hire a cleaner.
  23. Hire a driver, pool person, accountant, gardener, personal shopper…
  24. Hire a house manager.
  25. Above all, hire a shrink.
  26. Buy top of the line kitchen appliances and never touch them.
  27. Buy top of the line bike tools and never touch them.
  28. You get the idea.
  29. Shop for clothing at stores with Italian names.
  30. Eat at restaurants with Japanese names.
  31. Bite out of snails, slugs and other slimy creatures with French names.
  32. Swear by gurus with Sanskrit names.
  33. Engage in an activity in which you have to pay for the upkeep of tens of grassy acres, buy special old-people clothes, lots of little sticks, a little cart to drive your little sticks around, hire a person to drive your little cart with your little sticks around and throughout the whole day not even break a sweat – and consider it a sport.
  34. And then, due to all the stress caused by completing this whole list – get another facelift.
  35. Repeat until money runs out.

No, those little hairy things in the stroller are not humans.

Jewish Grandmothers 101

*Note to my own grandmothers: this is not about you!

I am not particularly fond of generalizations, but I think a few things can – and should – be said about Jewish grandmothers as a whole. I am excluding the fit blond ones I saw in Aspen because I think most of their Jewishness was taken away with their face-lifts. They are loving and lovable, but they can, in some cases, be somewhat unbearable (anybody read Portnoy’s Comlaint?) In order to understand their behavior better, we must understand the two intrinsic fears that guide them through life.

  1. The child/grandchild will go hungry.
  2. The child/grandchild will not get married/marry a goy.

All the following actions are directly linked to Fear #1:

  • Forcing food down your throat, verbally or physically. Physically includes that guilt-inducing glare.
  • Having three refrigerators, all full. And a barrel of cranberry juice and a lifetime supply of almonds in the pantry.
  • Giving you second and third helpings and then asking you why you are not hungry.
  • Freezing food. Some even slip into an unbreakable cycle of putting all fresh food into the freezer, and eating only defrosted foods.

In order to demonstrate Fear #2, I will share a real life example.

It is a Friday evening in Aspen, and it is my day off. Since I am Jewish, I figure the coolest thing to do would be to go pray. The woman next to me strikes a conversation, and within a remarkably short time, collects all the information she needs:

  1. I am Jewish
  2. I am a girl

After double checking that all of this is true, we move onto the next topic: her grandson. He has a college degree! He’s smart! He’s handsome! So, what do I think? I’m single, right? I would love him, she says knowingly.¬†“But… you know, he really loves Florida. I don’t think he’d ever move from there. So if you’re not planning to move to Florida, don’t even bother.”

I breathe a sigh of relief. But she continues.

“No, you know what? You should still call him. I want you to call him. Here, I’ll get his number…” and she runs off to yell at her husband. “Okay, here’s the number,” she says, pleased with herself. “Will you call him?”

Um.

No.

1. I do not want to.

2. We are at shul, it is Friday night and you just said he was religious.

3. I am not looking to be set up with the grandson of a woman I just met. This ties into issue #1.

The husband settles the dispute: I am to email him after Shabbat.

“Okay,” I finally say, wondering how harshly G-d will judge me for lying to two nice people on a Friday night, in shul. Yeah, I’m probably going to hell. I walk over to the kiddush, happy to get a chance to get a better look at the food. As I am happily noshing on some cheese and crackers, I see the grandfather walk over to me. I look around. No grandmother. But what’s that in his hand?

And before I know it, a man I do not know is waving a photo of his grandson in my face.

Forgive me father, for I have sinned. I know not how, but you must be punishing me for something! A few days later, as I am walking around town, I see them on the other side of the street! I duck back into the store I was in, casting furtive glances and practicing my James Bond moves, until I am certain they are out of sight.

24 Hours Off in Paradise

As soon as the clock started ticking for my twenty four hours off I set off for a hike. The trailhead was just around the corner but I somehow managed to spend 45 minutes looking for it. I started the hike hungry, frustrated, and unfortunately, with a very honest heart rate monitor.

The Ute trail is one way to get to the top of Aspen Mountain, also known as Ajax. I’ve hiked longer and higher, but I don’t think I’ve ever done a full hike with an average heart rate of 161. That’s what it is when I run. Fast.

Like with every mountain, you spend spend long, desperate hours huffing and telling yourself it’s worthwhile, then at the summit, you spend about fifteen seconds feeling proud of yourself and another ten taking pictures and then… you’re ready to go down. Anticlimactic.

But this is Aspen. A gondola takes you down. And this is Aspen, so the gondolas play music while you ride. And – have I mentioned this is Aspen? – the music system is solar-powered. And little blond angels float around showering you with hundreds of dollars in cash…

Everyone who is not here to be blond and spend money (or to be a young Israeli and make money) is here for the Aspen Music Festival. It’s a big deal. So after my hike I headed over to the music tent to hear Mozart, Haydn and the gang. I don’t know if it’s because I was alone, because it was free or because I was so happy to be free myself, but the concert was 100% classical and I enjoyed every minute of it.

I visited the library (one of Aspen’s hot spots, in my eyes) and then strolled into an enticing little French restaurant. As if I were not a nanny but a chic young woman on vacation. My delicious crepe was overflowing with rich cheese and caramelized onions, and with my book and my surroundings, I felt very close to heaven.

The next morning I went to a yoga class. When the teacher started pouring sandalwood on us, and talking about our “inner heels” and feeling like mountains, I lost her a bit. But, so what if I was just lying down with my eyes closed and calling it a yoga pose? I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

No one stays in paradise long, though; I, too, tasted the forbidden fruit by answering my phone and heading back to work.

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