Manners & Misdemeanors
Dear Truly Rich Lady: On Keeping Up With Rich Friends, Class, and Dealing With Frenemies
What do you do when your friend is richer than you?
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Do you want to ask our resident TRL anything? E-mail C.C. Coo at [email protected].  

Dear Truly Rich Lady,

My family has fallen on hard times, but I am keeping up appearances since I fear being excluded by my friends. This has led me to do the unthinkable: Whip out a credit card when dining (why are eggs Benedict so expensive?), shopping, and traveling with them. Should I just confess that I am not Truly Rich anymore?

Hmmm. I wouldn’t know what to do if my Truly Rich BFF broke down in a tearful confession about lack of cash. Maybe I would softly pat her hair?

Because it is not the best idea to discuss money matters with anyone other than your spouse or financial manager, I am going to tell you to employ an artful deception (otherwise known as beautiful white lies) by adjusting your behavior when around your spend-happy friends.

If they are ordering expensive eggs Benedicts, ring up an egg white scramble and say you are on all-white diet. When shopping, feign indifference at the sight of shiny objects because “I am hygge-ing right now.” And when invited on another leisure trip, just say you are too busy with the renovation. Actually, it may be wiser to duck out somewhere unreachable until your financial situation gets settled. Maybe take a trip to your farm, where there is little access to boutiques and the eggs are free.

If they are really your friends, they will pick up on all the signals and adjust their behavior around you. They won’t start a cry-fest by broaching the subject of your unfortunate situation while patting your hair. That will just make everything even more uncomfortable. But they will start ordering egg white scrambles like you do.

Dear Truly Rich Lady,

What are your thoughts about that recent study about class? Do you agree with the list? I’m afraid I do not yet fulfill entry number 13, but I’m working hard on my Mandarin.

Well, I am more worried about entry number 14’s note on good posture, because I have acquired a slight hunch due to late-night baking sessions lit only by Jo Malone candles (What? I like setting the mood). Does my less-than-perfect posture take away from my so-called class? I think not. According to the distinguished panel of judges, my cat Dowager Countess of Grantham, also known as Granthy, and my devoted assistant, who looks sleepy this morning, I still score somewhere between 97 to 99 points on overall elegance.

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My Aunt Red also has issues with entry number 18’s ruling on getting drunk, because she sometimes gets more than tipsy—but always in private and using only the classiest tools available: Champagne cocktails, Baccarat flutes, and Le Labo candles. And don’t get me started on entry number 15’s prohibition of party talk. If we don’t whisper about the lives of others, what else are we supposed to do over brunch and supper? Eat?

This list is just an idea of class or a characterization of the Truly Rich Person, whom I should point out is an actual person who may be prone to dropping her shoulders, drinking more than two cocktails, and gabbing about what’s happening to Gigi right now (does she need money?).  

Dear Truly Rich Lady,

I will be meeting my Not So Friend for a convention, where we are assigned to the same table and have the same flight arrangements (we are seatmates!). We have an extremely dreadful relationship. For all the troubles she has inflicted upon me, my colleagues have advised that I should just pretend not to know her. She still sends me hate mail, by the way.

The code of conduct for any and all situations is politeness. In trying circumstances such as yours, where an unfriendly character is actively hostile, I would add brevity to the mix. Beyond the “hellos,” “good mornings,” and “goodbyes,” which can be deployed in mere seconds, limit your interaction with your Not So Friend. It won’t be too difficult. On the plane, you can plug in your earphones and pretend to watch Billions. At the table, you can sit a few places away from her and enjoy the occasion in dignified silence. If all else fails, my go-to reaction for an unavoidable collision with unfriendlies is a tight lip drawn into a slight smile and kind eyes gazing into the middle distance. As for the e-mails, ask an assistant to direct all of her missives to trash.

 

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