For a mere $16.50 plus postage and handling, you too can become the proud owner of six cocktail glasses etched with the words: "Living Well Is the Best Revenge."
All you have to do is write down a credit card number, and a package of them will come winging from Big D Little a Double L A S, a place where Revenge has always been popular (check your local TV listings).
This exciting opportunity for a souvenir of the times comes to you from the Horchows, as in Horchow Collection. These are the catalog people who have made a success by appealing to people who live well or would like to live well or would like to imitate those who live well. You get the idea.
Therefore, I am not surprised that they are doing big biz on this motto. I suspect they could have cleaned up on a wallet embossed with "I've got mine." But that might have been just a touch tacky.
"Living Well, etc." is back in vogue, not to mention Vogue, not to mention Town and Country. For the past several months, these words cropped up with as much frequency as mink at the inaugural.
I have seen them emblazoned on a magazine cover story about the unabashedly rich Oscar de la Rentas, hosts to the equally rich of Manhattan.
I have heard them waft across banquet rooms full of Sun-Belted and Galanos-draped women of the Reagan Riche and Nouveau Droit.
I have heard them used by people from Big D and L.A. to toast their takeover of society from the Georgians.
Indeed, if the style of the swaggering new Affluent Pride continues, "Living Well" will soon appear printed on T-shirts sold only on Rodeo Drive and stampted on expensive accounts created only by oil company executives.
But the funny thing is that the expression itself is fairly ambiguous. Living well is the best revenge? Against whom? For what?
According to my handy-dandy Barlett's, the phrase first appeared in George Herbert's 17th-century English book called "Outlandish Proverbs." The Horchow catalog -- not exactly a historical source -- described it as an old Spanish proverb.
But I suspect most of us associate "Living Well, etc." with the Roaring Twenties, when it was the code of Gerald and Sara Murphy. These were the young, rich, high-living friends of F. Scott and Zelda Fitgerald, who set the only tone of the '20s. f
They belonged to the age group that went down in history as the Lost Generation. Their postwar contemporaries has left their ideals in the trenches. Disillusioned by the absurdity of their commitments, the betrayal, the irony, they seemed frenzied and aimless.
But it was the Murphys who were the frosting on the waste, the glitter of the times. They washed down the world in vintage champagne.
Now our own uneasy times have spawned a new in-crowd of rich. These are the self-made rich who know how to pack up their troubles in their old Gucci bag and party, party, party.
But they have at least this in common with the '20s. The '80s' rich are also out there justifying the good life as a kind of revenge.
They dip into the caviar just to show the old high school teacher who thought they'd never make it.
They wear mammals and walk in amphibians just to thumb their noses at the out-of-style liberals who once tried to make them feel guilty.
They wear $10,000 dresses just to spite the old money crowd who once excluded them.
All this leads me to think that Fitzgerald was right when he wrote that the rich are different from you and me. It's not that money makes them happy-go-lucky, forgiving and content with the world. It's that only the rich can afford a truly classy sort of revenge.
But I think I'll pass up the glasses this time. I just remembered what happened to those in the first Lost Generation. They turned it into a Depression.
Somehow I'm not ready to drink to that.