Living the Dream
Posted: January 6, 2013 Filed under: douchebaggery, essay, weird
OK, so recently we were in Miami and we went to a coffee shop/restaurant for lunch.* This was a tiny place with tables and a counter with baristas, a stove, espresso machine and a cook all packed in tight behind it, everyone working ass-to-elbows. It was clean and the food was good, but Miami is full of good restaurants so competition has got to be fierce and margins are probably pretty thin. It was lunchtime but the place was half empty. Hopefully they do better on a week day when the people who work in the area want a bite for lunch.
An older guy came in with two teenage girls; I assume they were his daughters. The girls had long hair and were stylishly dressed; they headed right out to the patio to sit in the shade as the man placed their orders. He had a big watch, a tennis player’s tan, polo shirt with collar flipped up, Aviator sunglasses and a gold chain peeking out from a nest of graying chest hair — looked like he had money. He had what I call ‘puffy’ hair; like the dad from The Brady Bunch. He was one of these guys who spoke too loudly and was too familiar with people he had just met. In a voice obviously meant to be heard by all, he declared that he had just arrived in Florida from ‘up North.’
“Welcome to Miami,” the man at the counter replied.
“Oh, I live here every winter,” the man replied. “I have two houses. We live up North in the summer and then come down to our house in Florida in the winter.”
The man was boasting, so I guess the barista felt he should admire his customer’s good fortune. “I would love to be wealthy enough to have two houses,” the worker at the restaurant said. It was clear that he was an immigrant; probably Cuban.
“Yes,” the rich man with the banker’s haircut said. “I’m living the American dream! When I was a younger man, I decided I wanted a Ferrari… but just wanting a Ferrari isn’t good enough; you have to decide you NEED a Ferrari. So I decided I NEEDED a Ferrari. Then I was motivated to work very hard and make a success of myself.” All of this was delivered in a self-satisfied, much too loud voice, with the clipped, staccato delivery of someone who was very used to being listened to. Then he said the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. He looked at the Cuban kid who might have been an employee or an owner of the restaurant/coffee shop, but in any case was a person who probably had to work pretty hard to get by and said, “I’m living the American dream so that YOU can dream it.” As if his being rich was good for everyone else who wasn’t rich just because, well, it gave the rest of us poor slobs something to aspire to. How generous of him. To live our dreams for us.
*This ain’t journalism. Everything happened like I describe it, but I didn’t hear it all and I’m not sure that I have all of his quotes absolutely word-for-word (although “I’m living the American dream so you can dream it” is a direct quote — Annie heard that part). But rather than filling you in on what parts I heard and what parts she heard, I just went with ‘we.’ Less accurate but better writing.