The Upper Crust

I was driving home the other day, and I heard a song on the radio that took me back a few years. It was a song by the group Outkast, entitled “Hey Ya.” I was transported to a New Years Eve party in Los Angeles, back in 2002 or ’03. Outkast was performing this song on one of the New Years Eve specials that aired that night on television. At that time in my life, I was a Marketing and PR Consultant to a cosmetic surgeon in Beverly Hills who also happened to be a good friend of mine. We were both single then and, in our determination not to spend the holiday alone, we agreed to go to his sister’s party together (who happened to be a district attorney in the hard-core gangs unit in Los Angeles). We truly were just friends, so I saw this as a fantastic opportunity to step outside of my usual circle and meet some new and interesting people.

As the song played on the radio, I couldn’t help but reminisce a little. ‘That evening had been fun,’ I thought as I smiled, remembering the details. My friend’s sister danced to this very song in front of her television, while the band performed it from New York. She and her fiance were adorable, as she swung her hips and they tried to do the twist – so happy and carefree. I can’t even begin to elaborate on the social metaphors that were being shattered in this one instance. Not only would some think it ludicrous to derive any sort of evidence to support this essay on the Upper Crust of society from Outkast or any one of their songs (being a musical group who by all accounts has tried very hard to squelch or stave off any and all references to their undeniable cuteness, or teeny-bopper appeal, and command respect, appearing edgy or at the very least, intelligent, sexual and contemporary in the hip-hop world) but the very fact that this cute little upper-class, white-bread couple became giddy on hearing the song, and ran to the front of the room to swing to it is priceless, to say the least. It proves that social mores are suspect, at minimum. Dammit, white people can enjoy hip-hop just like the next guy, whether he or she be a “brother” or a “sister.” Suffice it to say that were this same scenario played out in the hood, these cute white folks would be lucky to get out alive. It’s just not okay, in the minds of many purveyors of all that is the “hood” for white people with money to enjoy this music. They just can’t understand the plight of the black man, or the underprivileged. Not that the lyrics “Uh, thank god for mom and dad for sticking through together ’cause we don’t know hooowww… UH!” conjure up any sort of “power to the underprivileged,” but they are performed by two guys who came from nothing, so to speak, and now have a voice, albeit a fun, feel-good sort of voice. But I digress.

The party consisted mostly of attorneys – coworkers of the host and hostess – and most were there with dates or as very well-established couples. Despite my obvious unattached state, I was able to meander comfortably, striking up conversation here and there. There were some interesting people at the party. That’s when I met Devin (I’ve changed his name to spare him the embarrassment). A very attractive man, also a coworker of the hostess.

Initially, Devin was interesting to talk to, and had lots going for him (from my point of view). He was nice looking, with large, dark, penetrating eyes, dark black hair, and what appeared to be a nice body – which was only solidified (no pun intended) when he spoke of his exercise regimen. He seemed attentive to my needs at first, assuring I had a drink whenever I wanted one, and was certainly intelligent.

I have a mind for marketing and public relations, and can rarely expel this from my psyche in social interactions. As a result, I am truly intrigued by what others do for a living, always interested to learn more, and apply this knowledge to what I do. I’ve found, however, that my genuine interest is sometimes misinterpreted for simplistic adoration. I’ve also found that this seeming adoration is extremely appealing to self-absorbed types. Like Devin.

The truth is, Devin was very successful. He too was a district attorney, set for the fast track of wealth and success in the legal realm… not necessarily astronomical wealth, but this guy would never suffer financially if he played his cards right. Normally, this is a huge turn-on for me. Not the money part (because that is always there), but the success part. There is nothing more appealing than someone who loves what they do, is good at it, and has managed to find a way to be successful doing it. Any other time, I might look past a self-absorbed conversation in someone like this, acknowledging (or excusing?) that the wiles of alcohol had once again victimized an otherwise kind, giving and interesting individual. I’d sometimes even insist the person should be given another shot (no pun intended here either).

What doomed this situation from moving forward, alleviating any chance at a second meeting, was the fact that Devin, although successful, was far too self-deprecating, and excessively negative. He was newly divorced and spoke of his ex-wife negatively. He seemed to long for pity for his sad situation. I found myself asking the shameful questions, “Was it cultural? Are all Jewish men like this?” I’d been involved with my share of Jewish men, and found it hard to determine any definitive answer in that moment.

It wasn’t just the whiney, negative tones that were a turn-off. It was the notion that someone who had such potential would limit themselves so severely. In my mind, there should be no limits to someone with such an education and career. Devin was virtually cutting himself off from the enjoyment available from life. Why would someone with so much promise and opportunity waste as much time and energy on negative thoughts and expressions? I found myself thinking in terms of the marketing and public relations aspects of our potential relationship. Who knows where this guy might end up? He has the potential to write a book about his experiences in the hard core gangs unit. He could be an expert on CNN. But I knew the truth. This guy may never reach his potential, because of his whiney, negative approach to life. I suddenly realized this was no small “if only.” When someone allows such negativity and limits into their lives, they tend to end up devoting energy to maintaining the status quo. Change is scary to most people. I realized that Devin would be “happy” to maintain his life the way it is – a life content to attract attention for sad or unfortunate circumstances… for his lack of ability to be complete on his own, or to be at peace in his own skin. It’s the same in children who get attention by getting in trouble at home and at school, simply because mom and dad are too busy to pay attention otherwise. Or the dysfunctional families who continue to allow abuse, because it’s what they know. Not that Devin’s life would be all that horrible, but sadly, in that evening, I surmised all of this from his negative behavior. I determined rather quickly that I wanted to soar with eagles, and not be pulled down by negativity or a lifetime of “I can’ts.”

The quandary was that Devin didn’t actually say things in an outright negative tone. I’d seen this many times before in others before him. He was the type I could imagine, who would say to me in a romantic gesture, “Let’s go to New York and live it up for your birthday. We’ll see whatever show you want, go to some nice dinners, maybe do a little shopping…” then he would proceed to lament over the cost of doing so, and toil over getting the cheapest rates for everything – so much so, that the trip would become burdensome, and the whole dreadful situation would eradicate any joy I might derive from such a gesture. Or, I could envision him, upon encouragement from other enthusiasts like myself, reaching for new heights in his career, all the while sickening everyone around him with worry and whining behind the scenes about the absurdity of the pursuit, or about the faults of the others he was competing with in this new venture.

I admit, it seems rather short-sighted to determine whether a person is an asset to your life that bears inclusion, or whether they should be relegated to the fringes based on a single meeting, no matter how negative. My only defense in this matter comes from my experience with divorce as a thirty-five year old single mother, and the incredible failure something like that emits on the persona. I determined back then, with great resolve, that I would no longer spend time on foolish pursuits. I decided that in order to reach my personal goals and achieve what I determined as success and happiness, I could only do so by surrounding myself with positive, successful and intelligent people. People who. like me, would not allow limits or obstacles to overcome them. I also realized that I could no longer sell myself out to needy people who would, given the chance, suck the life-blood out of me. I decided that to continue down paths that I knew up front were counter-productive to my own personal goals or dead-ends for me, would be the equivalent of behaving in pure insanity. Again I digress.

I am now brought full circle to the core of my treatise: Just who are the Upper Crust in our society? What separates the Upper Crust from Lacklusters? What makes one person capitalize on the opportunities that lie before them, and live life to the fullest, while others shy away from and disregard opportunities as too risky or faulty? The Upper Crust are not necessarily the ueber-wealthy in our midst – though, the wealthy can certainly qualify. The Upper Crust is made up of individuals who see no limits to what they can participate in or achieve in life. They take life by the shoulders and shake out of it what they desire… never allowing naysayers to dissuade or sabotage them. The true Upper Crust rise ABOVE the norms, and above society. They MAKE things happen, and provide opportunities along the way for others. They are winners. They live where they want to live, do what they enjoy, and make time for life’s wondrous dance. They are the essence of positive thought in motion. These folks would no more guffaw at the prospect of owning their own personal jet, than they would at completing a simple day’s work. The two possibilities are equally within reach, should either be a goal or priority to their master.

That’s just it! The true Upper Crust in our society are MASTERS of POSSIBILITY. And all for the greater good of enjoying life. Totally.

So, you may ask, whatever happened with Devin? Unfortunately, my epiphany over his lackluster status came after we’d exchanged cell phone numbers. The entire night, into the wee hours of the morning on New Years Day, I was subject to whiney, pleading phone calls. Devin, to my own surprise inundated me with queries as to why I was unable to drop everything and do things at his uncertain and undecided whims. Sadly, I was forced to seek the aid of my friends, who reiterated my lack of interest, and strongly suggested he give it up. That, my friends, is what he did. Thankfully.