5 Ways I Like To Pretend I’m Filthy Rich

“Gratitude is riches” -Doris Day

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you’re browsing your Facebook feed when you come across a bunch of photos of your friend Alex deep-sea diving in New Zealand. Why look, the whole family is there… all bronzed and smiling.

vacationYou’re happy for Alex. Really. Because Alex is your buddy and you think it’s awesome to go to New Zealand, just like it was awesome when he went to Copenhagen a few months back.

Not that you’d know, having never been to either place yourself. (You start counting the years since you’ve been on vacation…)

And then, before checking your bank account to make sure the Netflix charges cleared, you read about how Gwyneth Paltrow believes in steaming her hoo-ha before  advertising $900 casual slip-dresses made for 5’9” models with 32” chests on her website Goop, like these would be reasonable options for any normal person to consider.

Does it bug you? Does it bug you that it bugs you?

Well, don’t worry, because it’s completely normal. You see, researchers have found that money doesn’t buy happiness after all… unless we have more of it than our friends and colleagues do. We care most about how we’re doing compared to everyone else around us.

Which makes sense. I mean, if everyone in the village has two goats and your family has FOUR, then you’re probably feeling pretty successful and respect-worthy until someone in the village builds a skyscraper.

But that skyscraper family needs love too. Look,  I’m not trying to be intimidating, but I’ve  got some pretty impressive resources myself. I have assets that have only been available to an elite percentage of lucky people…

That is, as long as you’re counting all the people who have ever lived since the beginning of time. Which I am.

Laugh at my adorably child-like imagination if you must, but comparing myself to people who lived hundreds of years ago makes me feel a whole lot better than reading about the Kardashian sisters’ weekly armpit-bleaching (I may have made that last part up, but you get my drift).

Plus, it means feeling filthy rich every time that I:

1. Eat Oranges

My darling mother-in-law from North Carolina recently visited, seeing our new house for the very first time.

She was most gracious about it, but what seemed to truly impress her most was the orange tree we have in our backyard. Imagine seeing an orange tree through your bathroom window, she sighed wistfully.

Now, growing up near towns with names like “Citrus Heights” has left me somewhat oblivious to my backyard citrus privileges, but seeing her perspective helped me realize how unusual it actually is… Oh yeah, people used to receive oranges in Christmas stockings, back when they were an enormous deal because non-local goods were really expensive. 

In fact, Marie Antoinette, who’s the very symbol of whimsical decadence if anyone is, had orange trees from Spain and Portugal wheeled into the gardens of Versailles in planter boxes every morning from their warming rooms, as a statement of her fabulous access to luxury goods.

And here I am, staring at oranges from my bathroom window. Like a BOSS.

2.  Drink Hot Chocolate

History-of-chocolate-franceThe-Family-of-the-Duke-of-Penthièvre-tasse-du-chocolat-jean-paul-charpentierI like to start my day with a nice cup of hot chocolate, like it’s no big deal at all.

But this habit would’ve once pegged me as a pampered aristocrat.

 

Because chocolate used to be unbelievably expensive. The Aztecs believed it was a divine gift and used it for currency.

It first appeared at the French court of Versailles in 1666, during the wedding of Louis XIII and Anne of Austria. Versailles, of course, was world-renowned for ridiculous self-indulgences and nearly pornographic levels of luxury at the time.

And even THEY were impressed by chocolate. After Louis XIV’s married Marie Thérèse of Spain, who loved the stuff, the king granted the first chocolate manufacturer in France, David Chaillou, a monopoly, which kept chocolate unbelievably expensive for a very long time.

Yet here I am, starting each day with a heaping cup of chocolate, the 17th century equivalent of breakfasting on Beluga caviar sprinkled in gold dust while setting hundred dollar bills on fire.

3.  Pepper My Food

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is the dried spice everyone keeps in half of their salt and pepper shakers. Nowadays, it’s the bare minimum of any spice collection, something found on every table at any truck stop in any random backwater town.

But it used to be something only insanely wealthy people could afford to use.

In fact, the Dutch still use the expression “peperduur,” which means “pepper expensive,” to refer to outrageously costly things. It’s a holdover from earlier times, when pepper was literally more valuable than gold. It’s rumored that Alaric I, King of the Visigoths, and Attila, who ruled the Huns, both demanded ransoms of black pepper in exchange for stopping their attacks on Rome during the 5th century.

4.  Salt My Food

What-Salt-Bae-MemeThe word “salary” is actually derived from the word salt, coming from the Latin “salarium,” or “money to buy salt with.” Apparently, people used to picture incomes in terms of how much salt they could buy.

Salt is vital. It preserves food and makes it taste good. People care about it so much that salt taxes lead to revolutions… like how the French Gabelle led to the French Revolution, or how Gandhi’s defiance of the salt tax led to Indian independence from Britain.

Salt is sacred. Greek, Jewish, Catholics, Buddhists, Tibetans,followers of Shinto, Southwest Native Americans, and other religious groups historically involved salt in holy rituals.

And yet, I can boast an embarrassing wealth of saltiness. I have table salt, Kosher salt, and two kinds of sea salt at my disposal… I can throw salt into my baths, as well as on my food. I can buy a HUGE amount of salt, more salt than I could use in years, and I don’t even run around bragging about it.

5.  Flip On the Air-Conditioning

For most of human history, we’ve had to live in the elements the best that we could.

If it was snowing, we could build shelters, sew thick clothing, wrap ourselves in furs, or build a fire.

But if it was blisteringly hot, there wasn’t much we could do, except not wear a bunch of clothes (I’m talking to you, Victorian England).

Or we could buy ice.

Thing is, ice harvesting used to be extremely dangerous–huge blocks of ice could accidentally slide onto the workers and crush them–yet incredibly profitable. Ice merchants got rich during the 19th century, reaching peak competition in the 1860’s when the industry pulled in $28 million ($660 million in today’s terms).

Before that, there wasn’t much people could do to deal with the heat, apart from jumping in the lake or making someone wave a fan at you.

So whenever I flip on the air-conditioning, it’s basically the new world equivalent of filling the room with expensive ice cubes or having a team of servants waving a bunch of ostrich feathers in my face.

I should probably be reclining on a couch and eating grapes whenever I do it.

Don’t Hate

These are just a few of the ways I like to pretend I’m a powerful empress in the ancient world. Just think about how impressed medieval people would be if they travelled forward in time to behold the splendor of my lifestyle.

But don’t be jealous. You’re probably an aristocrat too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

21 Comments

        1. I agree! Wanting to go on vacation can motivate us to work hard and improve our skills, for example. We wouldn’t want people to quit trying , just because they have access to salt & pepper, lol. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Hey, over here in the grim northern wastes of nr Arctic northern Europe, we STILL put oranges in the kids xmas stockings! Don’t know why… it’s not like the kids don’t know there’s a whole fruit bowl full of them sitting on the kitchen counter. Great post, and very true that we don’t realise how lucky we are. Am now off to eat some luxury imported foodstuffs covered in salt and pepper for lunch, in my centrally heated house! (Air con? Brrrr!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s funny–putting oranges in Christmas where there are packed fruit bowls around. Must be a traditional now. I think they still do that in other parts of the country here, but I happen to have grown up in one of the two states that grows citrus (also Florida). Reminds me of those Polynesian island where the natives are disappointed to eat lobster–it’s all about rarity, I suppose.

      Haha, you would appreciate hearing more, I suppose. Here, the weather reaches 116 degree F (47 C?) and I can’t imagine how people dealt with it (of course, my people were living near you back then…)

      Thanks! I

      Like

  2. Aww this totally made me smile! it’s so true…we are rich in so many different ways and we don’t even have to into history (even though you did a fantastic job of it…you must be a history geek!) to know how blessed we are! There are still parts of the world where air-conditioning is only for the wealthy and people wouldn’t even know what hot chocolate. I was reading a book the other day that said that if you make more than $50k a year, you are richer than 1% of the world’s population! So it certainly is counting the small things that can make you understand the wealth you have amassed instead of looking at pics of New Zealand!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Haha yes, I’m a total history geek and was figuring out a way to talk about it. 🙂

      Thank you! That’s amazing about 99 % of the world making less than $50K… really puts things into perspective. We usually think more about what we don’t have than what we do, and while I think it’s good to keep improving ourselves, it also makes us feel better to appreciate what we’ve already got.

      Glad I could make you smile though and thank you for reading! 🙂

      Like

  3. YOu forgot to add eat ice cream as that’s been around for a few hundred years too surprisingly. As for pepper, you only put it on the table to show off – you never used it! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, that’s true… we wouldn’t have had ice cream before ice was a normal thing to have. And ice cream is so delicious…

      Ha! Pepper as an unused status symbol. I suppose it must’ve been for some people. It’s so funny to picture.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well that’s what pepper was, it was so expensive it was a symbol of status. Ice cream was the desert for a King as so few cooks knew how to make it. and it was only served for the King or Queen.

        Liked by 1 person

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