TERPSTRA: Champagne wishes and chicken strip dreams
I’m not generally accustomed to the finer things in life.
When I mean fine, I mean really nice or opulent.
Which is another way to say not average, cheap or generic.
I’m like most people. I don’t eat lobster regularly or drive an expensive sports car.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
This isn’t a bash people that have a ton of money column.
I enjoy an occasional steak now and then — medium rare, of course. I’ve also been known to splurge on seafood and come up with some pretty tasty creations.
I’m really more of a chicken strip, baked potato guy when it comes right down to it.
I don’t buy diamonds or claim to know that much about fancy jewelry or million-dollar paintings.
Oh, and I don’t smoke expensive cigars.
I go to a barber to get my haircut and I drink domestic beer or whatever is on sale. I buy disposable shaving razors and drive a car that is almost 20 years old. Which will be upgraded here soon, because she’s been reliable, but a newer make and model is entering the realm of a need now more than a want.
I don’t get manicures, although I did get a pedicure once — more or less as a joke for my female friends.
That isn’t to mean I haven’t experienced my fair share of luxuries or indulgences.
And by that I mean a family vacation probably 25 years ago to the Wisconsin Dells and countless other trips to see the mountains or a ball game. I’ve never seen the ocean — that’s high up on the bucket list.
I’m middle class and not privy to the ways of royalty.
I don’t take exception to anybody in the way that they want to live their life for the most part. As long as they aren’t doing damage to me or to others, who is one to say what is best for someone or how they want to spend their money?
Definitely not me.
If purchasing lions, tigers and other exotic animals like Mike Tyson did back in the 80s is up your alley — hey, man, if that’s your thing and that’s how you want to roll — more power to you. They just better not be endangered, there “Iron Mike.” I wouldn’t frivolously spend my money on that if I was filthy rich — but I sure would pull the trigger on many impulse purchases.
How about a sno-cone machine right in your kitchen? Or a cheese fountain or chocolate waterfall? I know that’s not expensive, but that would be cool. Shaved ice anyone? Please pick from a delectable array of 15 different fascinating flavors, including bubble gum. Can I interest you in some Belgium chocolate, which cascades down into a pool of caramel? Care to dip your pretzel in a river of melted gorgonzola?
That’s what I’m talking about.
Or how about my own bowling alley or basketball court right next to my living room? Nah. That’s been done way too many times. I need something new and exciting.
I’ve got it — my own private island.
No, that would be too much work.
The ultimate would be to have a lifetime free pass to visit every National Park (There’s 60 of them in the United States, by the way). Or free tickets to every major league baseball stadium right behind home plate with a $100 spending limit for each person that you would bring. Because that would include about three beers, two nachos, two hot dogs, a souvenir bat and T-shirt with today’s inflation the way it is. I’m not kidding, either.
Now there’s people with money, there’s rich folk, there’s the super rich and then there’s Jeff Bezos.
What would it be like to look at your bank account and see five or six numbers followed by a horde of zeroes in your updated statement?
We have all wished or dreamt about being a multi-millionaire, hosting decadent and wild parties on yachts and having friends over to please their palates with a pricey wine collection in a underground, state-of-of-the-art cellar.
“Wait until you see my underground bunker,” I would say, as I would pass the expensive caviar around to my guests, followed by my personal chef’s horderves speciality of the week appetizer of poached quail eggs.
I don’t have a collection or army of antique and showroom cars like Jerry Seinfeld or Jay Leno.
I’m pedestrian when it comes to that front.
But we can always fantasize, right?
Remember that show from the 80s, “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous?” Yeah, I’m going back to the well again on the TV shows that I watched as a kid. Because it was a great time, the 80s and early 90s. There’s no harm in reliving those moments, right?
“Lifestyles,” as the chique would call it, was a show hosted by Robin Leach, who would travel the world and interview jetsetters and rich tycoons, showing off the spoils of their labor. Or what mommy and daddy left them in a trust fund.
Want to see what a $100 million home looked like inside? Grab the clicker and Robin will tell you all about it. Want to see what a sold-gold 24-carat swimming pool looks like? Robin’s got you covered.
Robin would always sign off the show a lot of the time smiling on the deck of a yacht or zooming past the camera on a jet ski bouncing up and down on the French Riviera, the wind whipping his graying hair.
He would give a shout out to his audience with the now famous line, “champagne wishes and caviar dreams.” Which basically meant good luck or enjoy your life in whatever you do, regardless of stature. That’s how I took it. That’s what the show was all about. It was way over the top, extravagant, and exaggerated. But that’s why people liked it.
Leach, who possessed a distinct and beautiful talking voice via his rich London accent, passed away a couple months ago from complications from a stroke. The first stroke he had occured in 2017 while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas. I’m sure that’s where Robin liked to be, sunning himself somewhere near a pool and taking in all life had to offer while getting pampered, I assume. And why not, he was rich and famous. He was 76 when he died, the same age of my father when he passed.
The old saying goes about money that I’m sure you’ve heard is, you might as well spend it because you can’t take it with you. I don’t know if I believe in that statement. There’s more sentimental value in my mind to leaving behind something for someone who is still living after you’re gone, something to remember them by. If it’s money, so be it. If it’s an old baseball card or even that set of steak knives or fine cutlery that you’d never let anybody use. Might as well give them away to a good home, right? Or auction them off? Sell them on ebay? It’s entirely up to you.
My dad left me some coins and his wedding ring — things he worked out with my mother in advance to give to each of his sons before he died. We sold a lot or gave away most of his material possessions. Of course, there was some money I received, but that’s really not all that important to me.
My dad loved watching football around this time of the year. He was a big Nebraska Cornhusker fan. He liked the Iowa Hawkeyes, too. I finally got him to admit the Hawkeyes were his second favorite football team next to the Big Red Nation one Saturday afternoon when we watched football together. I’ll never forget that day.
When it was time for him to go, there were no wishes or dreams I sent his way before he took his last breath. Our relationship wasn’t like that. We had a good father/son bond. We were also a lot alike, which can sometimes be good and then not so good. But I told him I loved him. I think he heard me. I wouldn’t want some fancy sendoff if I passed and I know he wouldn’t.
The only wish I would have would to be able to talk to him now and get his thoughts on how Nebraska is going keep its boat from sinking all the way to the bottom of the Big Ten standings. It would be interesting to hear his take on what it’s going to require to navigate that vessel into calmer waters.
Yeah, I said boat, not a yacht.