On my lifestyle

Do you really consider yourself part of the 99%? While you sympathize with the poor, most people could only dream about your extravagant lifestyle. Why not donate the money to charity instead of spending it on cocaine and designer clothes?


My first instinct was to tell you to get off my dick, but I decided to make this a teachable moment instead.

To the first question, it’s not a matter of whether I consider myself part of the 99%. It’s math. I simply am. I’ve never even come close to being in the 1%. (Sure, I’ve rubbed elbows and other body parts with quite a few wealthy individuals, but that doesn’t make me one of them.)

As for the political implications of your question, you seem to be suggesting that I’m some kind of hypocrite for not living in abject poverty. That’s silly. Quite frankly, the fact that I’ve peeked over the wall and actually witnessed some of the grotesque decadence of the 1% only makes me that much more fierce of a class warrior.

As to the second statement, you’re both wrong and right. You’re wrong in that I don’t sympathize with the poor. I empathize with the underprivileged. Huge fucking difference. You’re right in that I’ve been in the room for some pretty extravagant shit, but so what? I’m super cute and fun to be around, which in turn allows my lifestyle to have very little to do with my tax bracket. That’s where my privilege comes from. I don’t deny my privilege, nor do I apologize for my lifestyle.

To the last question, I can’t remember the last time I spent my own money on cocaine, and I’ve never paid retail for designer clothes in my life, not that it’s any of your business.

And since you brought it up, I regularly donate to charity and do volunteer work whenever I can. Always have, always will.


63 thoughts on “On my lifestyle

  1. UnderTheGun says:

    Is this a historical moment?!

    IT must be !

    Coke mentioned for the first time something about her appearance! – and of all the words out there….CUTE! unexpected but welcomed šŸ™‚

    Also, congrats on noticing the privilege of beauty.

  2. waytogo17 says:

    I remember when CokeTalk put up a shot of her, to my eyes, visually appealing body with her head out of the frame. Does anyone still have that picture saved?

  3. Chrissy says:

    Letter writer has never enjoyed the beauty that is vicarious consumption. If you volunteer at a fancy gala for, say, a children’s shelter or something, you can stuff your maw full of crab cakes and feel morally justified doing it. Boom.

    • The Coquette says:

      “Vicarious Consumption” would make a amazing title for a roman Ć  clef about my insane Los Angeles adventures during the years in between the attack on 9/11 and the financial meltdown of 2008.

      • Anna says:

        Yes ! Write a memoir before you get to the age where it’ll sound boring. Then write another memoir in your sixties, I’ll read both !

        • Strangely Rational says:

          Boredom doesn’t have anything to do with age. It has to do with a lack of imagination and insight, and I don’t think Coquette is short on either.

          • Anna says:

            Ah on the contrary Coquette has lots of imagination and insight and she will gain more with age. But somehow more insight makes the material experiences seem dimmer and less exciting, which is reflected in narration.

      • Chrissy says:

        Erm…Sometimes wealthy people that keep an au pair in their employ to look after their kids bring the au pair along when they decide to fuck off to Monaco or wherever. The au pair, who does not share his/her employers’ wealth, is sharing in that experience, i.e. staying at the same resort, eating the same food, and enjoying all the other outward features of a fancy ass vacation while doing their job. So it can be said that he/she is experiencing it vicariously because he/she doesn’t hold the wealth and prestige of those who actually have the economic agency to decide to go to Monaco. That’s more of an example of vicarious leisure but it operates along the same lines. Google Thorstein Veblen for a less butchered explanation with fewer awkward sentences.

  4. Strangely Rational says:

    Dear Letter Writer,
    I suppose you donate every penny of your money that’s not spent on absolute necessities?

    Oh, you don’t? Then shut the fuck up.

  5. Rose says:

    I find it kind of unsettling that someone can look at a person who does recreational drugs, has nice things, and travels, and automatically assume they’re a 1%er. I guess to the average person the incredible wealth of the 1% is unfathomable. It goes to show how deep the financial divide is.

    • Anna says:

      Well the only reason the 1% still exist is because the vast majority of people don’t know they exist.
      However you don’t belong to the 1% to be rich and even amongst the 99% percent the distribution of wealth is so skewed, and marginalized populations so overrepresented, I understand the anger even though I don’t think it’s completely logical.

      • CR says:

        I actually hate the terms “99%” and “1%” because I think they let a lot of the wealthy-but-not-ridiculously-wealthy off the hook.

      • Strangely Rational says:

        The 1% exists because they have managed to dupe a good portion of the 99% into defending their ability to amass obscene amounts of wealth because Capitalism.

        They exist because money buys power, and they’re not going to support any policy that brings anyone else anywhere close to their level.

  6. CR says:

    I’m the letter writer. Sorry, I’m about to write an essay.

    First, thanks, Coquette, for answering my question. Thank you for giving an actual, though-out response instead of just saying “get off my dick.”

    If anyone cares about where I’m coming from, ironically, my parents are 1%ers, but I probably won’t be. I’m about to pick a career path. I’m divided over two choices. The first, a job where I could maybe do some good, and would make loads of money. The second, where I would do immense, tangible good for the world but wouldn’t make very much money and may even struggle to make ends meet for a while. I asked Coquette this question because I wanted some guidance in how to make my own life choices. I feel guilty when I consider picking the first profession just so I can be able to have nice things.

    You show very black-and-white thinking when you say, “You seem to be suggesting that Iā€™m some kind of hypocrite for not living in abject poverty.” No. There’s a middle ground between poverty and fabulous wealth. How about spending just enough for food, shelter, and medical bills while investing the rest in socially-conscious businesses?

    Yes, my question was rude and prying according to American social norms, but just as you don’t apologize for your lifestyle, I don’t apologize for my question. There’s no real delicate way of asking someone about their finances, and I wanted to open up a debate about wealth. I think that politics ultimately boils down to who gets what, and how much. Yet it’s considered rude to ask someone how much they make. I suspect that the upper crust one day decided to make it “poor etiquette” to talk about money so that they would never have to be open about the source of their wealth. Somehow, this etiquette trickled down to all social classes in the U.S. And it’s bullshit. How are we supposed to create a more just economic system if we can’t even be open about how much money we make? I could have been more tactful, but I know that you don’t need me to feed you softballs. Part of the reason I asked you is that I know you’re confident and self-assured.

    I worded my question deliberately. I considered whether to use “sympathize” vs. “empathize,” and I chose “sympathize” expecting that you would correct me.

    You’ve avoided the heart of my question. Fine, I’ll frame it around myself. Is it morally wrong for me to spend money on champagne while kids in the neighboring borough go hungry?

    I just don’t buy your argument. It’s not that I disagree with you. In fact, I don’t know whether I agree or disagree with your response. I’m conflicted about the ethics of money, and I want to read and talk to others for a while in order to learn more.

    You say that your spending habits are none of my business. To some degree, you’re right. Do I want my neighbor keeping a log of every single one of my expenses? Of course not. But as a fellow citizen, I have a vested interest in knowing how other people choose to spend their money.

    And since I’m posting this comment on your site, I’ve gotta say something nice. I respect your hustle, and I wanna hear what you have to say.

    • The Coquette says:

      Didn’t mean to avoid the heart of your question, but I’m glad you finally cut to it. To answer as clearly as possible, let me say this: The moral mathematics of wealth are difficult to calculate when you try to include both microeconomics (your personal net worth and spending habits) and macroeconomics (third world poverty). It’s like mixing classical mechanics and quantum mechanics. You’re never going to be able to square the circle.

      It is not morally wrong to spend money on champagne while kids in the neighboring borough go hungry, but there is most certainly a point past which decadence becomes grotesque. The problem is that the point is subjective. What I consider grotesque may be very different than what you or those hungry kids consider grotesque. Where to draw that line is the essence of your ethical dilemma.

      The middle ground you speak of where living a comfortable existence while using the remainder for socially-conscious investment is a perfectly reasonable place to draw the line if that’s where your conscience wants you to draw it. Personally, I choose to balance the scales through charity and volunteer work. We each as individuals have to come to terms with our privileges and our place in the world.

      Now, as for your career choice, I strongly suggest you erase money from the equation entirely. For your own spiritual, mental, and emotional well-being and satisfaction, which of the two paths are you drawn to? Again, erase any thought of money. In fact, erase any thought of “doing good for the world.” I’m asking you this purely in terms of your own personal well being and satisfaction at the day-to-day level. Which of those two careers would make you more excited to jump out of bed and start your day? You’re the type who’ll end up being a good person no matter which path you take, so don’t feel guilty or ashamed for taking the path that will make you the happiest.

      • Gaybeard says:

        To add to this: there shouldn’t be any guilt associated with how you spend your personal wealth because it should never be up to individuals to disburse funding between causes in the first place. Choosing to spend some small portion of your personal wealth on causes you support is normal, but questions of funding for serious societal issues falling on individual citizens is a huge failure of state policy. The most effective way to help people should be to be involved in the shaping of government decisions and policy, not whether you choose to recycle your old clothes or buy champagne. No one should pretend they can make any serious difference in the world because they were born into a privileged position. The poor and sick don’t need you, they will find a way to pull themselves up just fine without you. So yeah, choose the career you love and stay humble.

    • Chi says:

      One thing:

      What makes you think you have an interest in how I spend my money? As a citizen, you should be invested in how the government spends your money: tax revenue.
      Even my child has no damn interest in how I spend my money. If he’s fed and clothed and has a roof over his head, anything else? Not his business. Goes infinity for a random stranger: you have no vested interest in anyone’s financials unless it impacts you directly.

      Carry on.

    • ann says:

      If your parents are really 1%ers then they can afford for you to get an arts degree. Just go do an arts degree, man. Knowledge bombs like you wouldn’t believe.

    • The Derpy Bear says:

      So you are saying you NEVER drink, go out to dinner, go on vacations, or anything like that. Do you spend all of your extra money on charities?

      Why does ALL of a person’s extra money need to be spent on charities. Money is not the only way to give back to a community. I can’t afford to donate money so I volunteer.

    • The Derpy Bear says:

      What about people that grew up poor with nothing but worked their way up to having a more comfortable lifestyle? I don’t mean 1% rich, I mean having a reasonable amount of savings and money to buy something nice for themselves once in awhile. There is absolutely nothing wrong with people buying things for themselves.

      Not everyone gets to grow up with rich parents. You probably never had to go without anything you needed and you likely got at least a few nice things that you wanted. A lot of people that are buying themselves nice clothes now are doing it BECAUSE they grew up poor and NOW they have the money to do that for themselves.

      Who are you to tell people that worked hard to get where they at that they should not have the things you likely got to grow up with?

  7. Kat says:

    GET OFF MY DICK! Aw yiss.
    Also the comments here about your appearance are a little creepy. I enjoyed imagining you as non-white when you told us we couldn’t assume you were white.

  8. Chris says:

    Loved your “I’m super cute and fun to be around” comment.

    I’ve had some good times with some people way richer than I am, and it’s pretty much for the same reasons. I like to think they also like how I don’t put up any kind of front. For instance, a client wanted me to meet him at the Four Seasons for drinks with some bozos and their hired guns. As we’re introducing ourselves, the CPA asks what I do, specifically. When I tell him my daily tasks as an office drone, he says surprised, “oh, so you’re new to the profession.” And I concur, then say, “I won’t bullshit you or try to act bigger than I am.”

    A few nights later we were out for drinks, had some laughs, and he asked if I’d go check out the local music scene with him at some clubs he plays with a band, but I had a train to catch and my wife to get home to for a movie. Like I told him before, I wouldn’t bullshit him, and whatever possible gain there might have been to listening to bands play songs I couldn’t give a crap about, wasn’t going to mean as much to me as hanging out with my best friend.

    Another rich guy and I still play Words with Friends together (we might be the last people doing so).

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