TEXT OF COMMENTARY
STEVE Chiotakis: And now to a family that really hasn’t felt the effects of the economic meltdown. In a Los Angeles courtroom, the married couple who own the Dodgers baseball team are playing a game of who gets what in a big, high-profile split. There’s a lot of money at stake. And that’s given commentator Meghan Daum a lot to think about.
MEGHAN DAUM: The divorce proceedings of Dodger baseball team owners Frank and Jamie McCourt give us all the jaw dropping entertainment we’d expect of the trails and tribulations of the rich and famous.
Frank’s lawyers allege, for example, that Jamie lived in one Malibu residence and used the property next door as a laundry room. She has requested just under a million dollars a month in temporary support, an amount characterized in the legal filing as “wholly consistent with the parties’ marital lifestyle.”
This lifestyle reportedly included a personal hair stylist and makeup artist, private jets and monthly mortgage payments on seven homes.
There’s nothing new about high profile divorces that shock and awe the general public with their particular definitions of the phrase “lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed.” But when I hear these kinds of details, a few nagging questions keep coming to mind.
First of all, is having an entirely separate house to do the wash something to aspire to? Isn’t that kind of like having to go to a laundromat? I do hope Jamie at least has a laundry cart with wheels.
And what does lifestyle mean anyway? Does it refer to the thread count of our actual sheets or the thread count of those in the catalogs that we pore over while lounging in a bed made up with the begrimed and burlap-like products we bought at Wal-Mart? Is it a literal state of being or ultimately a state of mind?
I do feel a little bit sorry for folks in this predicament. Not for all they stand to lose in court but for something they lost long ago: the pleasure of salivating over what they don’t have.
Look, this is a pleasure I enjoy daily. The lifestyle to which I’ve become accustomed isn’t lacking the essentials, like food and shelter, or even a lot of non-essentials, like far too many magazine subscriptions. But much of what I’m accustomed to involves thinking about having more. In fact, what’s most satisfying about my lifestyle may be the fantasies that result from its being less than entirely satisfying.
I wouldn’t refuse a set of 800-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets, but I kind of suspect it’s almost as much fun to look at them in catalogs as it is to sleep in them in an utterly quotidian fashion. Desire gives us something to work towards. And if what you’re accustomed to precludes that kind of desire, doesn’t it also deny you a certain kind of humanity?
The lesson here: go ahead and envy the rich, but in moderation. And be glad you can do your laundry — dirty and otherwise — in the convenience of your one measly home.
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