Rich Woman, Poor Woman

In these dire economic times, if you have a mind to convince yourself that you’re doing pretty well, that you make a decent salary and own some cool stuff, I suggest you take a trip to Palm Beach to snap out of it.

No matter how rich you are, you can’t hold a candle to the average busboy in Palm Beach. The girl who makes your latte at Starbucks on Ocean Boulevard owns a summer flat in London and used to date Colin Farrell.

We spent some time in Palm Beach last weekend. We spent an afternoon window shopping on Worth Avenue and then the next day went to brunch at The Breakers, aka Versailles-on-the-Sea.

The thing is a monster. A well-appointed monster with murals and tapestries and caviar and brie on every flat surface. The parking lots are filled with Bentleys and Jags, and even the workers have nose jobs and Cindy McCain ponytails. The Breakers is no place for fat people with acne and polyester, and certainly not someone who has once called the Midwest home.

Yet, they let us in on Sunday for brunch. My mother-in-law and I didn’t eat for 24 hours, saving our appetites to gorge ourselves at the omelette and seafood bars. I wore a tent dress and did some push-ups before leaving the house. My husband seems to have been born with a lot more class. He ate breakfast at home that morning and when given free rein at the brunch, had two salads before calmly approaching the 30-dessert table. I’m surprised he didn’t take a carton of the Yoplait yogurt that some moron from the kitchen staff put on the exotic fruit table.

The brunch is expensive; a real luxury. As you’re eating, you can’t help but look around the huge dining room, mentally counting and multiplying and deciding that’s how they can afford to put a giant skewer of cornish hens halfway to the ceiling, just for decoration.

And as you’re looking around, you see people who have so much money, they brought their kids to this brunch. Kids who are going to nod their heads, “yes,” to the $10 bottle of water, the only thing that isn’t included in the brunch cost. Maybe they’re staying in the hotel and this is just their normal breakfast. Maybe the Breakers brunch is just one more boring thing about this Palm - yawn - Beach vacation.

“Where do you work?” I want to ask, walking from table to table.

Of course I couldn’t do that. I spilled Hollandaise sauce on my tent dress and the harp player might see it and tell the manager that the hicks from Ohio are here.

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