Monday, June 6, 2011

It's better to be loved than loaded.

I used to want to be rich and famous and live in a high-rise apartment right downtown somewhere with lots of glass and stainless steel and cool furniture and window shades that could be opened and closed by remote control and a doorman named Pete who accepted my packages and whistled for taxis when I needed them.

I wanted a job that wasn’t 9:00 to 5:00 and didn’t require a suit and tie, although I wanted a closetful in case I wanted to dine somewhere fancy or attend a premiere or be the keynote speaker at a conference on an island.

I wanted a black Jaguar with a tan interior waiting in my reserved space next to the elevator in the garage underneath my building, and access to the rooftop heliport if I needed to take my chopper somewhere. I used to envision framed magazine covers featuring my photo adorning the walls of my apartment’s foyer, and an automated bar just off the sunken living room with sparkling crystal glasses hanging above.

Then I grew up.

Now I know that it’s better to spend time adjusting a child’s sissy bar than waste a night drinking in one.

Now I know that a guy can be rich without having more than a few hundred clams in the bank, and that a Jaguar is way too small and impractical for a family with four kids.

Fancy dining is overpriced and overrated, I realize now, and home cooking tastes better anyway. There’ll be plenty of time for restaurants when the kids are grown; for now I’m savoring the fact that they still want to eat and talk with me, albeit with food in their mouths.

A helicopter would just take me away from my family, and island conferences wouldn’t be half as fun as the Michigan Athletic Club just ten minutes away. It’s easy to feel like the richest of kings when you’re reclining in a deck chair and your happy, healthy children are swimming and diving and playing a few feet away.

I have more remote controls than I can keep track of, for more televisions than I ought to have, and window treatments that are easy enough to open just by pulling a drawstring.

Thankfully, I can still open my own doors and accept my own packages, and the last time I needed a taxi was when I was too drunk to drive home. I don’t party like that anymore. I’ve grown up. People are depending on me.

I don’t need a closetful of suits or the kind of fame that comes with magazine covers and Hollywood premieres. It’s much more fun to bring home a rented DVD from the family section of the neighborhood video store and make popcorn, and my favorite photos are the ones of my smiling wife and kids.

The grass is sometimes greener on the other side of the fence, to be sure. But rabbits seem to like my lawn and my kids like the rabbits so my grass is green enough. And not everyone is fortunate enough to have to move a scooter or skateboard or soccer ball before they can get their Chevy minivan in the driveway.

Plastic cups hold liquid just as well as crystal.

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