A Sybarite with Imposter Syndrome

I will never take luxury for granted.

A friend told me recently that I was turning into a Sybarite. I had to look it up. It means, essentially, a person who is addicted to luxury and pleasures of the senses. Heck yeah, I’ll take that description.

But there is a reason a word-lover like myself was reduced, in this instance, to scrambling for the dictionary. For the first 50 years of my life, I was sunk way down in the bottom of the massive heap that is the lower class. Luxury and sensual pleasures are few and far between for those of us who are simply struggling to survive. You can’t be addicted to something you’ve never had.

But in the past 6 years, thanks mostly to having lucked my way into a union job, I’ve climbed up to the point where I actually see daylight. I’ve clawed my way into the ever-shrinking middle class, and I’m doing surprisingly well. I recently realized that just maybe, barring any unforeseen catastrophes, I’ll able to retire someday after all, instead of working until I drop dead as I always assumed that I would.

And it feels really, really weird.

It’s a relief, yes. It’s exciting, yes. But it kind of feels as though I’m living someone else’s life, and that at any moment, that person will walk up to me and say, “Right. I’ll have my life back now. Back to the slum with you.”

Imagine this: I actually have a hot tub that I can use any time I want. Every once in a blue moon I can treat myself to king crab legs, and when I do, I want to crawl up into the shell and let the meat surround me. Sometimes I experience the pure joy of being able to help someone else out. And I can travel without sleeping on a hostel bunk bed or in a tent. Five star hotels are still not in my financial comfort zone, but hey, I can have my own room with sheets provided by the management. That’s a luxury indeed.

Pre-pandemic, I actually experienced my very first massage. More please. (Maybe someday.) And I no longer have to sacrifice groceries in order to buy a set of tires for my car, or sleep in a sleeping bag while wearing a coat because I can’t afford to heat my home. And check this out: I actually have health insurance! Imagine.

So when luxury or pleasures of the senses come my way, I have to admit that I do revel in them. I enjoy all the delicious aspects of life that used to be so far out of reach. And because of my past history, I am incapable of taking these things for granted, so in a way, it’s the best of both worlds.

The Venitian in Las Vegas. I actually got to stay in this room one night. I slept like a baby.

Hey! Look what I wrote! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5


I’m Sick to Death of the Middle Class

Here’s an interesting little tidbit. There has never been a concrete definition as to what constitutes the Middle Class in America. I think the politicians like it that way. They want you to assume you’re a member of the Middle Class so that you can think they actually care about you without feeling too resentful that there seems to be no positive change for the poor on the horizon.

The median household income in 2012 was $51,017. That’s a sketchy number, too, because it doesn’t really adjust for household size. It stands to reason that as a single person I can get by on a lot less money, but still, I make about 40 percent of that median household income, so I think it’s a fair assumption that I’m not in the Middle Class. I think I have only been in that elite group perhaps 5 out of my 49 years, and then only just barely.

So I am waving hello to you from deep within the land of the working poor. And I’m guessing that a lot of you are here with me without realizing it. That’s fine if it makes you feel better, but here’s the thing. (Yeah, yeah, there’s always a thing.) In the most recent State of the Union Address, the president mentioned the Middle Class several times, and never once uttered the phrase “Lower Class”.

All of us have been taught since childhood that we are supposed to care about the Middle Class and work toward sustaining it and keeping it all squeaky clean and shiny and well-oiled, because their health means that we have a healthy economy.

I get it. The Middle Class is more likely to vote and contribute to campaigns, so they have to be kept happy. But you know what? As times get tougher, I care less and less about what the Middle Class wants or thinks, because heaven knows they don’t care about me. We are most definitely not all in this together. It’s every man for him self up in this mo’ fo’, and I can’t work up the energy to be stressed out about the shrinking numbers of the Middle Class when I’m barely keeping my head above water. Yes, we’re all part of the 98 percent. Go team go. But their lives and mine couldn’t be more different.

I’m down here struggling to survive, and they’re up there debating about whether or not it’s necessary to give someone a living wage. They’re up there bitching about the fact that they might get penalized for not offering decent health care, and I’m down here weeping for joy that somebody, somewhere, FINALLY made it possible for me to have health coverage. I’m down here waking up in a cold sweat because I’m one flat tire away from having to sleep in my car, and they’re stressing out because they feel the need to replace their iPhone with the current version. I’m living paycheck to paycheck, and they’re already dreaming about Black Friday in November.

Why should I worry about the shrinking membership of a club that I will most likely never be allowed to join? Maybe when enough of them are thrust into my world, people will start taking us seriously. If more people focused on helping the Lower Class rise up to join the Middle Class instead of using all their energy to try to keep people who have already arrived there comfortable, maybe then we’d have a healthy, vibrant and viable Middle Class in the first place.

So screw you, Middle Class. Get on your iPhone and call someone who cares.

End of rant.