The Masquerade of Riches

I never could appreciate the world of upperclassmen that seemed to be happier than me. For every time I was an assistant during their audiences, I saw five-star hotels, golf courses, gala concerts with their orchestrated smiles and suffocating suits. They would greet me with ‘Who do you represent?’ while the stench of expensive liquors and white lies burned through their tongues. And I would play pretend: “I am here as your personal assistant, my pleasure to meet you.” I tried to be polite, although I would always get a 72-caliber itch in my throat to add a ‘lucky moron’ at the end instead.

Small talk with the wealthy always follows a peculiar pattern: being likeable and treating them as your masters, appealing to their foolish philanthropy, and asking them for small favors. All of that while cracking jokes, drinking, smoking, and doing drugs until I feel like a moth banging against the light of a lamp, yet never shining as brightly as their diamond wristwatches.

Party after party, I lose the purpose of attracting the wealthy for their money. I lose my genuine smile amid the crowds of pretenders and fakes. Now, ‘artificial’ has become my middle name, replacing spontaneity and freedom.

Why do I still do it? The rich can offer good compensation for anything. They would laugh uncontrollably at my two-dimensional humor to entertain their egos with the question of why a chicken crossed the road. And with their chuckles, giggles, smirks, and titters, I would receive charitable donations from affluent donors on my bank account.

The rich would listen to jazz, slurp whiskey without ice, and eat finger-sized foods in attempts to fill the void of their boredom. They would express how amused they were in official debriefs and posts on social media as if their public image defined their collective psyche. They would completely understand why I am in their company, yet still indulge in the derangement of their senses. And they would continue laughing at my jokes without end. 

Don’t the rich cry, too?

Why do they not see my apparent disgust with their lavish lifestyle; not notice the mockery of them in my jokes; not feel the smell of their own decaying, moldering mouths? The thought of their conscious choice to ignore the injustices of this world and keep their idolatry of money as both the means and the end of achieving everything appalls me.

Among their idols, the rich sit at their marble tables with silver tableware. And I stand beside them. Disgusted with their golden coffins, I feel happiness and appreciation for my humble yearnings. And yet, at the back of my mind, I fear the moment of becoming the hands of my puppeteer. For if I earn more gold and silver in my life, will I be rich and happy all at once? Perhaps, perhaps… time will tell if my own greed corrupts me to the core as I rot beside this masquerade of riches.