The whole culture of the place reinforces my notion that rich people exist in a travelling carnival in which they are the marks. The carnies have learned that if you properly pet a rich person’s sense of personal awesomeness they’ll happily pay double or triple for even the most humdrum service. You are distinctive and possessed of a rare taste, my liege.
The way poor people are suckers for the lottery, rich people are suckers for flattery. The poor crave to feel lucky and the rich crave to feel deserving. Work it, and they pay off. Amazing to see experts at it in action. Hats off, carnies. Hats off.
Had an $18 glass of lemonade. Didn’t pay for it. It was pretty good.
Every hotel has service corridors but these ones are gorgeous: hidden doors in the wainscoting for access, narrow wooden passages with sneaky exits to everywhere. There is always a parallel hotel, but this time it is a beautiful one. One that feels like it keeps secrets.
The ocean is eating this place while we watch. Eroding the land out from under it. Washing it away to England. Big waves crash in and take away two hundred pieces of beach furniture and a flight of stairs. “That’s where we used to have a tiki bar,” explained a Haitian to my wife. “But it kept washing away.”
The break-wall is too short. The ocean sloshes right in over it. This state’s borders are being rapidly redrawn.
My wife skates across the bridge to West Palm Beach, where all the workers live. We go there for a cheeseburger when all the fanciness starts to cramp. I have to pay out of pocket for this meal but the prices are America standard — few dollars for full plates. But then the tipping.
One night while I work late into the night an ancient man in a slick tuxedo stumbles into the production office. “Do you make movies?” he asks, noble accent heavily slurred.
“Sometimes,” I tell him.
“Do you want to make a movie about me?” he asks, leaning into the jamb but never the less fighting for his balance.
I point to my machine. “To be honest my dance card is kind of full right now. But I’m intrigued. What’s your angle, sir?”
“It’s called ‘What It’s Like to be Buggered by Hillary Clinton,’” he announces grandly.
I give him my card. He weaves back and forth across the hallway as he wanders off, hip-checking the wall when it gets in his way. “Elevator,” he comments to an Italian masterpiece in oils.
We work late. We are animating key research points to underscore the planetary CEO’s message to the senior executives. The CEO’s people work late, too, Googling things and trying to decide whether what they find supports or conflicts with the talking points.
“It says here the biggest users of texting are blacks. That can’t be right.”
“It’s all those drug deals. Ho, ho, ho!”
“Bwa-ha-ha! Well, we can’t use that factoid. Nobody would ever believe it. What else you got?”
“Drug deals, you know? That passes for reading and writing with them. Ha ha!”
“Tee hee hee! Oh, you’re so bad.”
“I know. I am. I really am. Ho, ho, ho.”
Seriously, if there’s one thing I can put a finger on that’s comparable everywhere I’ve been in these very diverse United States, it’s the strong impression that it must really suck to be black. Like, even more than at home. White people acting like dicks is totally normal. They’re not even sheepish or embarrassed about it, the way Canadian racists would be. It’s all cool.
Coming home is rude.
Blizzard. Black ice. Ditched cars at the side of the highway. Emergency flares. No palm trees at all.
The children tell us the balcony door blew open during the storm, but neglect to mention that they weren’t able to close it. So our bedroom is a winter wonderland. Snowdrifts, frost graffiti filigree on every surface, the air glistening with dancing crystal motes. In…our…bedroom.
Jesus fuck. I dig out the door and force it closed, but we sleep in the living room by the fire.
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