Money Must be Nice

Every now and again, I'm reminded of the gap between the haves and the have-nots. I work hard, although perhaps I need to “work smarter”, in the immortal words of Scrooge McDuck. It'd be nice to save a million dollars, even though that means nothing in this day and age. I'm still struggling to reach half a million. I work a regular 9 to 5 office job, and take on as many extra gigs with bands as I can on weekends. I've tried different forms of investment, and found that the risky ones are too risky and often go down in value, while safer bets like CDs don't earn interest quickly enough, and rates decline each year. Money won't bring me happiness, but it will take the edge off some concerns. How will I afford a house? Pay bills? Put kids through college? I never planned to live with my parents forever, but clearly I'm doing something wrong.

On Saturday I had a gig in a neighborhood near my old university. I got the address from our band leader, and immediately knew the location. I couldn't figure out what kind of gig it would be though, as the street was almost certainly residential. I didn't think there was a church, club, or society around there, but I thought I might be wrong. After picking up the band leader and his son at a nearby train station, we made our way into this neighborhood of beautiful homes, suburbs nestled in the midst of an urban environment, set back from the less lavish storefronts on the main road. We pulled up across from a veritable mansion. “It's some kind of barbecue,” explained the leader.

We met up with two more trumpet players, and our group made our way to a gate which a girl opened to lead us in. There was some nice patio furniture and even a lamp, and Italian music permeated the yard, broadcast from hidden speakers. We'd soon learn the speakers were concealed in boulders and birdhouses to blend in. Passing a buffet manned by a catering army, we crossed a tent and walked along a huge in-ground pool, bright blue tiles sparkling up at us through the clear water. We crossed an outdoor dance floor where a caricature artist was setting up her easel, passed one of the two outdoor bars, and were shown to a small gazebo with its own fan. Nearby on a rock wall, a fake parrot swung in a large cage.

We were a little early, and reclined on some couches while we waited for guests to arrive. The band leader's son was telling me how he'd proposed to his latest fiancée in a White Castle during a break at one of our previous gigs, but I was only half listening as I looked about in awe. I noted a fountain, another higher deck overlooking the pool, and some stone steps leading to yet another balcony. You could have fit another house in this yard. My parents' house would have fit in the yard twice. Eventually, guests began to arrive and we made our way under the bright festival lights hanging over the yard to play our first song. Soon we were strolling, careful whenever our path got too close to the edge of that pool. At one point we made our way up to the higher deck, and I noticed a large Jacuzzi under one of the covered portions. Meanwhile, a clown showed up and started setting up her gear near the artist.

My brain was going insane with math. Caterers. Tents. Lights. Our live band. A clown. An artist. Near the end of our three hour set, a DJ showed up with a pair of gorgeous dancers. I didn't doubt that the host spent more on this one barbecue than I earned in a year. I was sure the guy manning a cotton candy stand felt the same way. Even the bathroom, a fully finished wooden cabin on the opposite end of that deck with the Jacuzzi, was nicer than any room in my house.

Apparently, they were happy with us. A big guy walked up to our leader with a roll of fifties, which he said was a tip from the home owner. “Give one of these to each of your guys.” We played For He's a Jolly Good Fellow in gratitude, and the host nodded from across the yard. When we were done and walking back to our cars, my dad, who never did grasp the concept of an inside voice even before his hearing went bad, wondered aloud, “You think those guys were MAFIA?” I don't know if he was right, but if he was, that's probably not a safe thing to ask. I would never assume Italian-Americans that well off had mob ties, certainly without any evidence. They could just as easily have been politicians. Or, maybe they did make an honest living. They paid us well and gave a generous tip, so I could care less. I just wish I knew what I’d have to do in order to live like that. Maybe that will be me someday. It's unlikely, but at the very least I can enjoy these glimpses into that other world, and dream.


Blogger b13 said...

Did the bill have any white powder or red liqu... oh never mind...

8/10/2008 12:57 AM  
Blogger Lorna said...


8/10/2008 7:45 PM  

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