First, the caviar was subpar. The pea I found beneath my mattress was not locally sourced.
Second, the people on this vacation were of the upper crust, but not the uppermost part of the crust, mind you. If you picture the upper class as a cake, they were from the part of the cake that has got only interior frosting on it. If that. They were dukes and earls, gentry, but not landed. Well, only landed a little, like a duck. Duck Gentry, I called them, at first behind their backs, then to their faces, as the trip wore on and they began to sink in my estimation.
They were wearing suits but most of the suits were not bespoke. Some of them wore costly jewels, but you had the sense that the jewelry had only been in the family for eight or nine generations. At most.
As such, I felt that they were not properly appreciating all that we saw. I kept going over to them and saying, “Do you want to discuss the Life Well Lived as epitomized by St. Paul?” and would you believe it, they didn’t want to. Clearly, these were not true patricians.
Third, we stayed at the Taj Mahal, but only for one day, not three years, as I would have preferred.
Fourth, the experience was hardly varied. It was just one thing after another without anything to spice up the grinding, daily round of totally distinct, centuries-old world landmarks. The Taj Mahal, the Pyramid of Giza, Macchu Pichu, St. Peter’s in Rome, the Duomo, the Westminster Parliament: You see one, you’ve seen them all, I feel.
Fifth, I was not allowed to spend an entire summer in Nice having a torrid affair with a local, as I was hoping. Instead this tour kept hastening us through places with a tour guide — a tour guide! as if a tour guide could possibly show us the meaning or history of a place!
Sixth, there’s an old saying that says, “When you see one cathedral one time, you have seen a cathedral. When you see eight cathedrals six times, you have had forty-eight cathedral experiences. When you haven’t seen a cathedral at all, you probably drank too much champagne, got separated from the tour, and wandered off down a side street, and then we had to come retrieve you and bring you to your hotel or we would have been legally at fault.” I forget why this is relevant.
Seven, when we went to Rome, the tour guide gave a tour, but I think that if it had been left to me I would have given a better tour. He kept stating the dates when things were built and who built them, when what I want when I go on a tour is a real emotional connection like something you would experience in an E. M. Forster novel.
Eighth, I drank six bottles of champagne, and no one stopped me. That was both too much champagne and not enough. Someone ought to have stopped me, I feel.
Ninth, I did not get to experience the authentic life of peasants, is another complaint that I have of my $300,000 vacation.
Also, the caviar was subpar.
*(I’m sorry, David Brooks. I just could not resist. How do you write a mildly negative review of a vacation that costs more than a house without exhibiting all the worst excesses of the One Percent disdainfully plucking a pea from underneath a mattress? Unfortunately, this ran in The New York Times, not The 1% Quarterly, so everyone else could also see what you were complaining about.)