If you awoke tomorrow morning to find yourself rich, what would you do with the money? I’m not talking about transparently obvious lifestyle changes (a Park Avenue duplex) or high-minded exercises in altruism (the Teachout Foundation for the Care and Feeding of Poor, Talented, and Likable Artists). What I have in mind are purer-than-pure luxury items, the things about which most of us necessarily dream in vain.
It happens that I’m not much given to fantasy, no doubt because my job provides me with just about everything that I want. I get to see shows of all sorts for free, publicists send me books and records, and I travel as often as I like (though not always to the places where I’d most like to go). Once in a while, though, I imagine how it would feel to be able to have absolutely anything I wanted, and these are the seven items at the very top of the list. I’d originally planned to restrict myself to five, but this being a dream of limitless wealth, it seemed churlish to slam on the brakes, so here goes:
• A chauffeured limo. I’ve only known one person, William F. Buckley, Jr., who maintained a limousine and driver. I rode in it four times, though never in the company of the owner, whose occasional custom it was to have his guests picked up at their front door if they were visiting him at his country home in Stamford. That was what really impressed me–the notion that a rich and considerate man might spare his less monied guests the agonies of public transportation by sending his very own car for them. Bill was like that.
• A full-time personal assistant. I tried hiring a once-a-week assistant a few years ago, but I eventually realized that it didn’t work, at least not for me, partly because I’ve never been good at delegating authority and partly because the whole point of having an assistant, at least in what Mrs. T calls “my fantasy world,” is that he or she is (A) omnicompetent and (B) at your beck and call 24/7. What I wanted, of course, was Jeeves, and he wasn’t at liberty!
• A Morandi etching. I know, I know, why not an oil? But the truth is that an etching by my favorite modern Italian artist is the objet d’art that I’d most like to add to the Teachout Museum, so much so that I actually bid on one at a New York auction house ten years ago. As longtime readers of this blog will recall, I got cold feet and backed down in the face of competitive bidding by a dealer, an act of self-evident prudence that I nonetheless continue to regret to this day.
• A Bösendorfer grand piano. This would be a true luxury item, since I scarcely ever play piano nowadays. On the other hand, I know a doctor who has a first-rate piano and a very large living room in which she presents high-class house concerts, and I can imagine doing such a thing myself. In any case, a grand piano is an exceedingly handsome piece of furnishing, and I’m sure it’d be great fun to be able to sit down at will and riffle off a few bars of “Easy Listening Blues” on the kind of instrument that can make even the clumsiest of duffers sound plausible, if only for a few fleeting seconds of reflected glory.
• A screening room. I’m not talking about a dinky little cubbyhole, either, but one with theater seats and a CinemaScope-sized screen.
• A Frank Lloyd Wright vacation home. This one, needless to say, would do me quite nicely. It can be rented for short-term visits, and I’ve had the good fortune to stay in it twice, the second time with Mrs. T. The experience was blissful. I’d happily settle for an exact copy built on a site of my choosing somewhat closer to Manhattan, but if the original were to become available, I wouldn’t hesitate to snap it up.
And last but not least:
• A hot tub. You guessed it, right?