Friday, June 13, 2008


A few minutes ago, I got some ice cubes out of the freezer. I don't have an ice maker. I have those old fashioned things called ice cube trays (oh, what a hardship!) I emptied one and left the freezer door open while I filled the tray with water. It took about a minute.

A few years back, someone (whose name will go unmentioned) got angry at me for leaving a freezer door open in her house. She had a big freezer that was stocked to the brim, and I was trying to find something. I doubt that leaving the door open for a few minutes, at most, cost a lot of money in energy (anyone know the exact figures for this?) Yet, she was angered enough to raise her voice some and say, "Shut the door. You're wasting energy!"

Besides the fact that I find any adult who gets ticked off enough to raise their voice at someone in need of self assessment (seriously), I was, frankly, horrified. This happened years ago and it still bristles. That fact alone forces me to make an assessment of my own.

I realized that those same words, about the same thing, leaving the refrigerator or freezer door open, were words I'd heard throughout my childhood. Seems a very small thing, I'm sure, but it bothered me tremendously, for, just like the last time, these words were always uttered by people who had plenty of money and I'm talking rich people, not just your average upper middle class folks.

To me, the admonishments were only a sign of stinginess. There was no other reason. These people were not concerned with wasting electricity on a greater scale, such as leaving a smaller carbon footprint. It was all about being cheap, and making sure that others, especially those using your electricity, don't make you spend another red cent.

I wish I could remember the movie, but back in the eighties, the fellow who produced "Risky Business" produced another film, perhaps with the word "maid" in the title. In it, he portrayed a stingy rich family, epitomized by the mother yelling at a housecleaner for throwing tin foil in the garbage. The correct place for tin foil was in a huge ball, kept in a cabinet, and sold to someone for a bit of money went it reached a certain size. Anyone watching this film probably thought this was a funny (or not) bit of fiction. It wasn't.

I knew this family. This is exactly the type of thing they did. Whether they indeed saved tin foil, I can't be entirely sure of, but if it was possible to do so, and to get a few bucks or even a few cents for it, they would have done it.

I have some great stories about visiting this family's house, which I'll write about some time (I'm too head-achey today), but I'll say this now: if anything or anyone contributed to my absolute hatred of the rich, these folks may have been the ultimate culprits. A friend of mine and I have been discussing our attitudes about wealth recently and I've made no bones about my sheer childish feelings of jealousy and anger at those with money. Thankfully, those feelings of hatred, which do nothing but hurt me, have abated quite a bit. But I've not many people to attach these negative emotions to around these parts, so I'm not challenged. Put me in the Barney's perfume department in New York City and I would bet you a million bucks those feelings wold come rushing in, fast and furious.

It's much too beautiful a day to be thinking about this subject.

Painting note: Goya's "Portrait of the Marquis de Saint Adrian" 1800-1808 (exact date unknown). The Prado Museum calls this period of Goya's career "Portraits of the Aristocracy" (linked at Goya's name, previously)

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