The folly of it all: That’s why we live here


David, Al’s brother, called. He needed a family recipe. He wanted to tell me that he would be hosting the next wine tasting party. He prides himself in being an expert on fine wine and fine gourmet food. He is an excellent cook and everyone wants to be invited to his house for dinner.

He had been invited to a wine tasting party with the elite of Albuquerque. They all showed up with their favorite wines. David took his favorite $100 bottle of wine. Somebody showed up with a $4 bottle of wine and another guest only brought a sack of chips.

He told me there were so many people who attended that they made a cut of who would be invited to the next party, which would be at his house. He said he met a couple guests at the grocery store. Apparently, they didn’t make the cut and weren’t invited to the next wine tasting party. They wondered why.

I said, “I guess they were the ones who brought the bag of chips. They might have gone to too many tailgate parties, taking a sack of Doritos and a cooler of beer. Maybe they’re out of your league.”

He laughed.

The folly of it all. When Al and I lived in Albuquerque, we were aware we didn’t belong in that circle. We didn’t even pretend to be a part. We didn’t have that kind of money.

Al’s brother and his second wife belonged to a gourmet dinner club in Albuquerque. They put their foot in the door during the 1960s and became a part of the who’s who of Albuquerque. They were invited to the governor’s palace, premiers and fundraisers.

David’s second wife dressed on a shoestring, but she looked like a million dollars. They dressed the part and acted the part. The lifestyle suited them. They loved being with the upper crust. They were climbing the proverbial ladder.

His third and fourth wives were in their early 20s. They instantly invited guests when they came into the picture. They really didn’t fit in. David made sure they shopped at the best stores and went to the best salons in Albuquerque. They didn’t belong, but learned how to look the part. It was who they were with, not who they were. They were with David Slade and they used his money to help them look good.

The few times Al and I were with David’s friends, I heard the men bragging about how much they had to pay off ex-wife Nos. 2 and 3. They were dating No. 4 at the time and wondered if they might be paying more alimony again. They talked about their current purchase of a small plane or buying stock in a shopping center. It was all about money and moving money.

The wives talked about their latest boob job or their trip for Botox. They also might have discovered a jeweler who custom-designed a ring or a piece of jewelry. Oh, to be that jeweler.

I remember once when David’s second wife bought a custom ring;  every woman in the group flocked to have a piece of jewelry made for them. The jeweler moved from a little hole-in-the wall shop in the back alley and instantly opened a shop in the big shopping center.

There is old money and new money. The people with the old money are as common as old shoes. They were raised with money, they understood money, and they didn’t have to prove themselves.

On the other hand, Albuquerque is full of people with new money. They have to prove themselves. It’s where they shop and what they wear. It’s all about appearance. They struggle to belong. They buy bigger houses they can’t afford just to look like they can afford them.

I remember a story where the man opens the shoe store. He couldn’t afford the inventory. So, he lined up empty shoeboxes on the shelves. He was fine until someone wanted to see the shoes inside the empty box. He looked successful, but he was empty inside. He attempted to impress rather than relying on what he actually possessed.

Vanity of vanity, emptiness of emptiness. I can’t imagine living in the emptiness of other people. Some try and are never satisfied, but they still try.

Many people who have rubbed shoulders with the elite have moved to Pagosa. They were tired of being caught up in the arrogance of the shallowness of others. They understand the pretentiousness of it all. Men have thrown off the three-piece suit, got rid of the ties, forgot about their razors, and have grown a ponytail. They were once out there, too.

Final brushstroke: I guess Mogen David or wine-in-the-box isn’t acceptable to bring to an elite wine tasting party. David’s group did themselves a favor when they didn’t make the cut. Aren’t you glad you don’t have to worry about it? That’s why we live in Pagosa.

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This story was posted on June 12, 2014.