Category Archives: Socialites

IS THE GLASS HALF FULL??

We have our own histories, realities, perceptions, interpretations and opinions based upon our own life history, optics, and experiences.

Some people, like moi, tend to question, and are, by certain individuals, considered to be cynical, others simply accept whatever is thrown at them as the truth.

Society today, bombarded with the faces and manufactured stories of the rich and famous, clamour to be part of that experience. Life is lived instantaneously through images captured and posted online to make the perpetrator feel somehow more important, connected. Some people, like myself, were brought up NOT to brag, not to ever use the name of another to promote ourselves, are somehow lost in the wind…and forced, unwittingly to do some level of self promotion otherwise we are perceived as weak, or somehow, losers.

Remember when the elegant Society Queens said there were only 3 times in ones’ life that your name should appear in the newspaper?? Birth, Engagement and Death. Period.

Today if your name is not plastered everywhere in social media, you are somehow considered to be ‘out of it’ not ‘with it’ . Unimportant. Passe…..

Women in particular, were brought up to gush positivity, never say anything negative about anyone, and smile. Unfortunately, today, people lie incessantly, and promote themselves ruthlessly. From the Social Pages with the gushing social editor ranting endlessly about all these Fabulous people and their equally fabulous lives and careers, to those who have carefully crafted  public personae, to worse, those who pay a fortune to PR’s to spin their fabulousness, and ensure they are invited to the BEST parties, and photographed …..

One acquaintance brags incessantly about her fabulous life, her international business….to hear her speak one would believe she is earning millions. Reality is a far cry from the rhetoric. She is broke and seriously in debt.

Another scratching social climber  from a poor immigrant family, is nauseatingly sweet to those who she feels will promote her pretend fabulousness, while ruthlessly destroying the reputation of anyone in her path.  Over the last few years I have unfortunately found myself increasingly distancing myself from both the self-promoters and the believers. The believers feel that having the self-promotors in their lives somehow makes them more complete, part of the ‘in crowd’ whatever that is.

They describe these individuals as brilliant, kind, exceptional, whereas others of us can’t get far enough away from them. Watching from a safe distance, however, is an absolutely fascinating experience. From speech patterns, eye movements, body language, being an observer as opposed to a participant is amazing.

There is one particularly pushy individual putting on airs and speaking with a fake English accent, trying to convey his British Upper-Class status. Unfortunately, both his actual behaviour and speech patterns convey the exact opposite.

The vocabulary is wrong, and most importantly, anyone from an important British family would NEVER publicly humiliate someone else ……it is simply NOT done. This individual is famous for it. Cross him in any possible way and be screamed down, with absolutely no consideration as to who is watching…..

There are several older socialites who continue to scratch and claw their way up the social ladder, utterly ruthless as to destroying anyone who is not helping them reach whatever heights they are seeking. One publicly exclaimed that she no longer speaks to those not in her social class….Seriously?!??!  she comes from nothing, and by making this statement, it speaks volumes to the fact she has zero class.

Go to London, associate with the powerful and find a totally different reality. They are incredibly polite and speak  to everyone.

I am always fascinated by elderly women still wearing Princess garb to balls at 70 years old. The description of ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ comes immediately to mind, scratching to reach some mysterious place which continues to elude them.

But true civility and elegance are timeless, and anyone watching from afar simply sees them as sad.

Another of my favourites are those who speak with soft kittenish voices, trying to show their current prey how sweet, kind and considerate they are.

In truth, most are pure poison.

From trying to lure a potential  man to the shop-keeper trying to elicit the secrets of those around her, with this fake sweet, ‘do come sit with me and tell me all about it’

But do something to cross these women and experience the most vicious attack ever, and the sweet soft voice immediately becomes loud and vulgar and seriously cruel.

If, in life, something appears too good to be true, then usually it is precisely that. From the investment yielding profit margins that exceed anything on the market, to Real Estate deals……. remember the old jokes about buying swamp land in Florida??

It is increasingly difficult today to know what is real.

From company web pages extolling their incredible success, and international reach, then find out the business is in someone’s basement and the so called successful President with the incredible resume has been fired from every job he has ever had. …but the web page is extraordinary, impressive. If you are a believer you will be taken in, and it will cost you dearly.

A certain politician has now been documented with 440 lies. …this is mind blowing. Many of those who voted for him, still believe in him, and will not be convinced that he lied.

They believe the rhetoric, drank the kool-aid, still do not doubt even though the truth is in front of their eyes.

True believers.

So, one could argue either way, cynic or realist?? Doubter or believer??

Many people do not wish to question, they are safe and content and unthreatened in their ignorance. It is easy. Safe.

How many times does someone need to say they are honest, kind, generous, popular, successful before others blindly embrace this false truth?? That you have been lied to, used, and nothing was real.

Is the glass half empty???

The True Cost of Social Climbing in Montreal

As someone who has travelled the world and has friends from every possible walk of life, I am absolutely fascinated by some of the questions people ask of me.

A week or so ago, I was chatting with someone who owns a very high end fashion shop, his merchandise starts at around $1000 per item, and goes to well in excess of $100,000. We have known each other for over 20 years (yes, we met when we were VERY young!!) and have shared some terribly entertaining conversations over the years. His clientele are primarily aspiring socialites who want to be seen in the ‘right’ clothes, and yes, I am trying hard to be politically correct, but at times it is extremely difficult. Although he is wealthy, he is looked down upon as a shopkeeper, hence the conversation and the segue, from social climbing, real estate and eventually death, not much was missed.
Interestingly I had a similar conversation with a lovely Barrister in London a few months earlier, who is currently residing in London England and was having a difficult time meeting people. I gave her some tips as she requested, she had  been astonished by the breadth of my contacts and Social Life in London over the years, considering I live in Montreal!!   When we last conversed, she had been following my advice and was beginning to enjoy a social  life in London.
For the last few years I have been admittedly absent from the social scene, and enjoying being relatively invisible, which has definite advantages. The never ending solicitations to purchase tickets to someone’s pet charity of the week have subsided, the requests for fundraising, and the never ending calls just simply asking for money or time have all but evaporated, and the calm is wonderful.
The last event I worked on was hugely successful, however an incredible amount of time and money was poured into its success. It was done willingly, there was no coercion, but being thanked properly would have been a nice touch, and it never came., It was the proverbial straw that broke this camel’s back.
So you must be wondering where this is leading…
My wealthy shopkeeper friend asked me what steps he must take to become ‘socially connected’ and as we are good friends, he asked me what the associated costs could be. He was genuine in this, although he knows all the ‘right people’ due to his line of business, he actually does not get to socialize with them, and was curious as to what one actually does to be seriously ‘out there’.
I described an extremely aggressively social climbing businesswoman I know who has been fired in each job she has ever held, yet goes from strength to strength. Yes, you have read about her before, and the answer is that she uses the same ‘head hunter’ who is pleased to reap a huge fee every 1 1/2 to 2 years moving her from client to client. Ethical?? Not for a second, but with fees of well over $50,000 each time, this firm’s so called ‘ethics’ can be bought, and you now know the price!!!
She has a PR firm on retainer and every employer gets to pay the bills for the PR firm and for her very public social life. For every party she attends, her name and face hit the newspapers so the public are wowed by her apparent success and image. She is but one following this practice, there are many. It is not uncommon at all.
PR firms develop an image and promote the public face of many executives and politicians.
SO, to answer your question, the ‘right’ house downtown or in Westmount, absolutely lowest possible entry price is $1.5 million, for the condo or home, but $5 million is seriously more acceptable. The ‘right’ car, a large Range Rover, BMW or Mercedes SUV in the driveway, spending over a certain amount every year at 3-4 high end stores in the city so that invitations to private events are forthcoming, and the requisite mention in the social pages.
The ‘right’ clothes at the ‘right’ balls, tickets starting at $1000 per person and rising exponentially from there. Ideally a great table starts at $25,000 so that one is close to the ‘head table’ again, depending on the event, that number can easily rise to $100,000. Yup. You did read that number correctly.
Then there are the clothes for the event, figure minimum $5000 for a gown, but $10,000 for a more important designer, something from a house in Paris will start at $50,000. Hair, makeup, nails, shoes, jewellery, purse, wrap, and of course, his tuxedo, nothing under $2500 will do. Estimate, over $10,000 for each event, and,, Heaven forbid!! One couldn’t possibly be seen in the same gown at two consecutive events!!
As with everything there are pathetic cheats, and inevitably society learns about them and whispers nasty words behind their skinny backs. One ever aspiring socialite has a reputation for purchasing gowns for $10,000, bringing them to her dressmaker to copy, stealing a label and leaving the price tag firmly attached, then returning them within 48 hours. She has been rumoured to take gowns from consignment stores home to ‘show her husband’, then wearing them to an event and bringing them back the next day.  Her arrogance however had her caught, as she was photographed on a couple of occasions in these gowns, and now the shop owners will not allow her to remove anything from the stores unless it is paid in full and not returnable.
This woman is now in her 60’s and has been scratching and clawing her way up the social ladder for years. She is still in the same place as ever, with the same handful of friends, it has been a costly exercise to stay in the same place because she is not a nice person. Her husband, who is equally unpleasant just pays the price to keep her quiet. He is always striving to sell SOMETHING to someone at these events, so over the years everyone who is anyone absolutely runs from them.
The ‘Season’ generally commences mid September and goes to the end of December, then restarts in March through to June. During this time it is expected that one is seen at a minimum   of 5 important events per month, and during the ‘down time’ one is to be seen vacationing in a hot climate, and skiing in Europe. It is socially acceptable to fly economy, but one MUST either stay with friends or in a posh, known hotel, and to be seen out at fine restaurants with glamorous friends which can easily cost upwards of $1000 per evening, as one must order a decent bottle of wine or two.
When summer finally arrives, one’s Country home is opened for never ending ‘casual entertaining’ and enough bedrooms and bathrooms to accommodate the never ending stream of guests, many of which will be required to stay overnight due to their level of inebriation, (which is a fabulous excuse for a night out and no costs involved ) and unfortunately there are far too many of those  famed for this  behaviour.
So you ask, what is the cost of all this? It can run easily into $100,000 per year and climb exponentially. If one participates in the  annual Grand Prix madness, a weekend can easily run to over $50,000 to acquire the best tickets and invitation to the many events with the drivers and their entourages. Hopefully one owns a company with deep pockets which can pick up these insane costs, otherwise you had better be earning serious money, but with all this, regardless of attending the ‘right’ Museum ball, supporting the ‘right’ charities, wearing the ‘right clothes’, if certain socialites do not like you, GOOD LUCK, as their social cattiness will destroy any whiff of success……..
Many of these social denizens actually come from actually nothing, but they have clawed and scratched their way up the social ladder, re-inventing themselves with every new and improved marriage to the next more successful and wealthy  husband. Stealing someone’s husband is unfortunate but often necessary. They are ever so quick to deny their backgrounds, as their surgically enhanced noses tilt higher and higher towards the sky.
Is this only Montreal? Absolutely NOT. It is the same in every international city worldwide, the only difference being a different set of rules and costs. Some of the house costs can be mind numbing, the event costs even more so, and depending on your manners and behaviour, acceptance becomes more and more difficult.
With homes in Holland Park, London now reaching the $100 Million range, yes, indeed, one must be a Billionaire today to get in to that particular social stratosphere. The ‘Right’ Country Seat, minimum 20 rooms if it is the ‘Right’ address, but at least 50 is de rigeur, with lots of surrounding park land for privacy, and another residence somewhere warm, with a Private Jet and Helicopter to get you to your destination at a moment’s notice.
Can one have an exciting social life in London without that level of wealth?? Absolutely, but one had better speak a minimum of 2 languages, 4 is more acceptable, have travelled extensively, know about art, economics, and have an absolutely wonderful sense of humour, so that your personality is your introduction instead of your wallet.
Ten years ago, at a very exclusive Gallery Opening, I was introduced to a Gentleman who looked like he had just escaped from an 18th Century Painting. He wore a white frilly shirt, a black leather Frock Coat, Breeches, and fabulous over the knee boots, long blond curly hair and bottle green eyes completed the package, with the most absolutely stained hands I have ever seen. An oxymoron……..but a twinkle in his eye and a huge smile on his face. He was surrounded!! He was funny!! His position in life?? He owned a leather company, but nothing you would expect. He made all his own clothing which was spectacular, but he was actually under non-disclosure as he was working for a Saudi Prince, and was doing leather work on his private boat, and we are speaking of something in excess of 300 feet of private boat. Furniture, walls, floors, you name it.  A massive contract in the millions of pounds, and here he was, the life of the party. He looked like a pirate, but was anything but. He was to do the Private Plane of the Prince once the boat was completed.
So, he was meeting some of the wealthiest people in the world and travelling to exotic locales with his team, so they could complete their work. Should the Prince decide they were off to a new port, he and his staff were abord to continue the work, so provisions were constantly being loaded to ensure they had what they needed.
So why Death?? …..Seems like a strange inclusion in a BLOG about Social Climbing. The conclusion is simple, no matter who you know, how rich you are, how popular  you are, what parties you attended, it all boils down to a very humbling ending. You will be all alone in that wood box for eternity. I have been to a frightening number of funerals, and seen behaviour which is horrifying.
At the end of the day the only things that really matter were the acts of kindness people remember, generosity to those who have a better life due to your kindness, and it need not be monetary, those whose life you may have changed by your assistance or the time you spent with them.
Non of the rest really matters, it is superficial, it is fake.
Please leave your affairs in order so that we do not hear about the absolutely disgustingly greedy behaviour of your heirs at your funeral. It will be the only thing anyone will remember.

The Gift of Giving..

The Christmas shopping frenzy is now behind us, retailers are quietly sitting in back rooms calculating the returns versus sales numbers so they can estimate their gross sales, and whether or not they can survive another month.

There are a new sprinkling of shop windows papered over as sales expectations failed to materialize, and January rent was a distant dream.

We have spent the last few months being absolutely bombarded with requests for money from every every possible charity imaginable, some of which didn’t exist a week ago. Emails, mail, phone calls, donation boxes, it is tiresome beyond belief, and for many, overwhelming. Walk on the street and you are absolutely accosted by those claiming to be homeless, some with dogs, some with signs, all with tales of woe, others playing offensive music; which is a true assault on the ears, some on crutches, wheelchairs, the choices are endless.

As someone who is, and has always been a walker, I have been passing by many of these so called ‘down on their luck’ people for years and years, and witnessed the incredible generosity of many naïve individuals giving and giving until it hurts. The problem is, many of the pan-handlers are actually earning 10 times more money than those giving it, they are not paying tax, and are increasingly taking over our sidewalks, and giving a black eye to our city.

What is unknown to many, is that there is a pecking order of panhandlers, and they are actually paying a commission for their spot. I found out be accident one day when speaking with the owner of a downtown restaurant. I complained to him about the fact I was practically tripped by the pan-handler on his front step, and found it offensive that I had to deal with that every time I entered his restaurant. He told me that when they insisted the pan-handlers remove themselves, many times their front window was broken when they arrived the next day. They are actually threatened with damage to their premises. As their restaurant is in a ‘key spot’ someone actually comes several times a day to collect a commission for the spot. If the pan-handler is not the ‘authorized’ one, he will be threatened and moved.

There have been many stories over the last few years about pan-handlers, many in Toronto, as a few Toronto reporters have followed pan-handlers home on more than one occasion and witnessed the change in comportment when they get in their car or on the bus. One which made the headlines in Montreal and Toronto was about the woman from Hamilton Ontario, pan-handling for years outside the Eaton Center in downtown Toronto, proclaiming that she needed money for food and education for her daughter. A journalist followed her to her  new VW Jetta, whereupon he leapt into a taxi and followed her home. She, at that time, was living in a paid up $750,000 home in Hamilton with her Accountant husband. Her daughter had long since graduated and was going to University. Her expensive lifestyle, home, car and clothes made it blatantly obvious that she was earning way above the money she claimed.

Another well known ‘street musician’ who is aggravating beyond belief on Ste Catherine Street had a bunch of do-gooders ranting about his right to earn his living, regardless of how tiresome he is. What these people have failed to witness is the wife coming in the new SUV to pick up her husband around the corner every night.  They vacation in Florida, and are wearing expensive clothes. At Christmas if one stands in the doorway and watches, one sees a stream of people handing him $5, $10 and $20 bills over a period of ten minutes, so clearly he is earning well above the money he claimed. In fact, he is earning several hundred dollars an hour on a good day. Tax free.

Another extremely rude pan-handler can move locations several times in the same day. He starts on Greene Avenue in Westmount, then in front of Bice on Sherbrooke, sometimes to Holt Renfrew at Mountain and Sherbrooke. If there is a football or Hockey game, he is in front of the stadium, sometimes it is with a fake cast on his leg, other times in a wheelchair, other times with crutches. But watch him board the bus!!!!   Stands straight up, marches brightly on board and sits down. The Crutches, or wheelchair stowed out of the way………. Seriously???

I have crossed him up to 5 times in the same day over the years, on a good day I estimate he earns $1000.

Then there is the rude one in front of Westmount Square on Greene Avenue, complaining about his horrible lot in life. Ever watch this liar over Christmas??    Little old ladies are giving him $50 and $100 bills so he can have a nice Christmas. He actually was in Westmount Square one day complaining about one who gave him $200 then had the audacity to tell him to get a nice meal for Christmas. He was complaining about her thinking she had the right to tell HIM what to do with HIS money………wow. …..and ….by the way, …..he is in Florida right now………watch him come back in a few weeks with his annual tan, and a scarf around his face hiding the tan………it is an annual event…………

Complaints to Westmount Public Security have yielded no results. They are still there, likewise the police on the downtown beat.

Certain well publicized charities do extensive advertising, yet few individuals or companies actually take the time to research what percentage of the money actually goes to the charity in question  versus fees, commissions, overheads, etc. Many would be horrified to learn the actual numbers.  Over the years I have worked on an incredible number of charitable campaigns, some political, some not, and was absolutely mortified to learn in some cases how little actually went to the cause. Several huge charity balls are paying enormous amounts of money to the organizers. More than one well publicized event bringing in millions are paying PR firms to organize the events, yet year after year they are larger and more publicized, and it is considered ‘in’ to be seen there. Companies purchase tables of 8-10 for outrageous amounts of money, to be seen as good corporate citizens, unfortunately, proportionately the amounts actually finding their way to the charity in question can only represent 20% of the take. I found out the hard way when one of the companies I was approaching insisted on seeing the financial statements of the charity. They only participate if over 60% is given to the charity. It was extremely embarrassing on my part to discover I was being lied to and was working gratis for organizations who totally mis-represent themselves.

We have a group of individuals who are now pushing the idea of ‘giving back’ and we hear this being spewed out in the press and at most public affairs. This seems to be the latest trend, bragging rights about ‘giving back’ . We hear the rhetoric about Haiti, Katrina, and other disasters, but what are they really giving other than lip service???

Many of the super-rich in the USA are setting up foundations to distribute some of their amazing wealth, however, what is not being mentioned is the fact that it is 100% deductible against their income taxes, so at the end of the day, they are giving out the same amount of money to charity which would otherwise go to the government in tax. Is this money actually doing anything useful? We continue to have a level of poverty in parts of Canada and the USA which are astounding, teen pregnancies, children are selling themselves and drugs, people are living in tents in parks, and under bridges, AIDS is still rampant, Cancer has not disappeared, and there are more religious wars raging than ever before. Children are starving in Africa, people in New Orleans and Haiti have not been re-located to new homes, part of Africa does not have potable water ……..

So, other than a lot of noise and space in the press, what has actually changed?

I have donated over 790 huge bags of goods to both Value Village and the Salvation Army over the last couple of years. This creates employment, money is given to several charities, and the merchandise does not end up in landfill. But as my contributions are silent, no one is giving me public recognition, and this is really what the commentary is actually about. What has all this ranting actually become?            ……  Getting public recognition for TALKING about how wonderfully generous we are while actually doing nothing??

One good friend of mine is very kind and generous. She is always introducing people to one another who she thinks can help, she entertains endlessly, and is always available to friends in time of crisis. This week she took time off work to bring a friend to a top divorce lawyer she knows to help him as he is not from here, and doesn’t have her network of contacts.  There is always something.

Every year we exchange Christmas gifts, and it is always great fun, as  we both have a knack of finding totally amazing, and appropriate gifts for one another. This year was no different, and the evening I went to her home just before Christmas to do our annual gift exchange, she had other guests for dinner and cocktails.

When I was at her home a few days later, I asked what the others had given her, as that particular night they had arrived totally empty handed. Not wine, no food, no gifts. She told me that I was the ONLY one of her friends who had given her any gifts, which made mine even more special.

EXCUSE ME??    Many of her friends are multi-millionaires and they gave her absolutely NOTHING?

They should be ashamed.

Even a trinket for $20 would have been better than nothing. It would certainly not have changed their lives.  But this is pure selfishness. Some of them went on extravagant vacations to luxury resorts, others were bragging about the expensive clothes……purses, etc they had purchased for themselves. Some of them sat at the table and carried on about how important it is for them to ‘give back’. Yet they gave NOTHING to a friend who entertains them.

There is another well known lady who hosts fabulous parties every Christmas in her elegant Westmount home. Although she stresses not to bring a gift, common courtesy dictates that one does, in fact, not arrive empty handed.

The frenzy of Christmas shopping, which initially was about giving onto others, has become a pre and post holiday shopping extravaganza of monumental proportions, yet, I am seriously questioning how much of this shopping is now given as gifts as opposed to purchases made for themselves. We hear another totally vulgar expression, ‘to treat oneself’ all the while proclaiming their generosity.

But have any of these loud people looked closer to home?     How many have friends who are down on their luck?      Sick?       Closed in?  Have ANY of them actually considered doing something kind for those individuals they actually  know?

One very close friend of mine died a few years ago, she was un-married, childless, and wealthy, as are her family. There are very few  in her family.   Many of us spent endless hours with her during her illness, driving her around, feeding her, bathing her, taking care of her, and ensuring she was not alone.  Yet she very publicly left a lot of money to charity, and the balance to her family, who are wealthy in their own right. Those close to her, including one friend who nearly lost everything, received absolutely nothing. We were not friends with her due to her wealth, most of us had absolutely no idea how rich she was. Yet her oldest friend who lost her home due to the recession, received absolutely nothing.

This is morally reprehensible.

Giving to strangers and charities  very publicly  while your oldest friend loses her home. There is something seriously wrong with this picture. I am not suggesting she should have purchased the home for her friend, however offering some assistance to help her out would have been the right thing to do, as given her level of wealth compared to the amount in question, it would not have made a difference in either her life of that of her family.

So, what is the message here?

Perhaps I will never be as wealthy as many of these people, perhaps I am old fashioned, naïve, overly generous, not selfish enough, not public enough with my good deeds. However, I do believe in KARMA. Think about it next time you give money to a stranger while a friend of yours suffers. Something seriously wrong here.

It is time to do the right thing. Just because you talk about it doesn’t make it so.

The Art of the Introduction

This afternoon I went to an upscale art gallery for the opening of an exhibit of some fabulous art….known in Montreal as a ‘Vernissage’ and was introduced to a woman, once again, who pretended not to recognize me. Over the years we have been introduced dozens of times, yet she feigned politeness briefly and moved on in seek of greater prey.

The lady hosting the event continued to speak with me and commented that she was thrilled by my continued presence as she wouldn’t have to interact with the woman in question. This was done in an elegant way, but the meaning was clear. I giggled, and told her that this was far from the first time we had met, and that she was one of a succinct group of ‘pseudo socialites’ (you heard it here first!!!) who are always looking over the shoulder of the person they are speaking with in case someone better turns up. As the hostess and I have known each other for well over 30 years……. (even though I am 29, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!)… we know a great many of the same people, we both mentioned a few names who are guilty of this particularly arrogant behaviour. The conclusion we reached, which was mutual, was that all of these rude people put on airs of grandeur, but are undoubtedly the least interesting or accomplished people in the room.

We chatted about the art and artistic community at large, and how much she enjoys working with them. and the incredible imagination to create this type of work.

There is an art to gracious introductions and the appropriate response required. One wonders if this is no longer taught, as it seems a large part of society has no idea what to do. One is expected to offer one’s hand and shake hands with the other individual, repeat their name while maintaining eye contact, and then ask a question of the other person, it could be regarding the location of the function, the art, the weather, or simply complimenting them on a piece of jewelry in order to show some interest. First impressions are usually inaccurate, and one is frequently surprised by whom one is meeting.

The lack of any willingness to speak to the other person or make any attempt at small talk is disrespectful and frightfully boorish behaviour towards both the other party and the individual trying to make the introduction.

One wonders if these people have any idea of what is being said behind their vacuous arrogant backs. Yes, we are paying attention, and we know who you are.!!!

Mean Girls

Recently there seems to be a preponderance of articles in various magazines describing school yard bullies and the devastating effects they can have on the recipients of their mis-deeds, with an increase of teen suicide. It has escalated to such an extent that it is finally being documented, schools are finally becoming more aware and taking steps to limit it, and recognize the extreme damage that can be inflicted by these bullies.

What is not, however, being spoken about, is that these girls continue on in life to adults, and continue to be bullies, which is why we also hear of a level of competitiveness beyond compare. These women aspire to be the most popular, most pretty, and are absolutely vicious social climbers who will stop at nothing to attain the position of  ‘top dog’ within their group. The big question in my mind, is that once they have clawed and scratched their way through life to attain whatever perceived social position they are grappling for, then what???!

In life, there is always someone more popular, prettier, smarter, with a better husband,  better husband, better homes, better clothes, better trips, more popular children, more money,   more and better everything.  In fact, there is nothing that will ever make them happy, because they are always trying to attain the next level…..of what, it is  frankly not all that  clear.

They snipe at people for sport, criticize people they barely know, and are cruel for sport, insults to them are second nature. Sometimes they can appear to mask their insecurities as humour and can be wildly entertaining – stories of their lives and exploits described in a such a manner that they can keep a group of people spell bound as they describe their latest trip or event.

Kindness is a tool only bestowed upon those who appear to have something to offer.

Everything in their existence has to be bigger, better,  more special. They have to be ‘seen’ at only the best restaurants, and they insist on having the ‘best’ tables, they have to go to the best social events where they can rub shoulders with only the ‘best’ of society, only the best hairdressers and manicurists will do, for them the idea of going to a cheap corner store is not even contemplated.

Their groceries can only come from the ‘best’ shops, clothes , shoes, bags, hair styles and colours, jewellery   are carefully researched to ensure that they only have the best names and are on top of the newest trend.  Not for them being ‘seen’ in anything or anywhere which they perceive could damage their social image.

Why do they inflict such cruelty on their victims? It is a sense of empowerment, which only they think gives them the ultimate power over others, and elevates them to being Queen’s. The damage they inflict however can have dangerous results to their victims, from anorexia, cutting, suicide, depression, weight gain and a multitude of other dysfunctions. The victims are not always in a position to be able to withdraw from or ignore the bullying, or are simply not emotionally strong enough to recognize it.

It is only when these ‘mean girls’ are called what they really are by their peers that this problem can be rectified. Cruelness is never justified.

 

 

 

 

 

EGO is ALL

‘Now it’s all about ME”

Andy Warhol once spoke of everyone having their 15 minutes of fame. Today many people are running their lives to have the exact opposite effect. Privacy is now becoming the new ‘in thing’ with the elite while the rest spend their lives  concerned about social networking and how many ‘friends’ they have.

I can’t imagine why anyone in their right mind would care to read a ‘tweet’ every few minutes from some ostensibly famous person brushing their teeth or going to the grocery store.

We see grown men stomping their feet and throwing major temper tantrums when they don’t have their way, and then bullying in order to have their way. Not cute. Not funny. Yet, for some indescribable reason it is acceptable by some people, and given the feeble excuse that the perpetrator is ‘charming’. Unless one is the recipient of some kind of generosity or recognition I can’t imagine why this intolerable and belligerent behaviour could be socially acceptable.

One woman, desperately seeking a wealthy husband so that she never has to work again, and can have the lifestyle she believes she deserves, exclaimed to a group of friends that ‘now it’s all about me’ and went on to explain that unless her friends were going to introduce her to rich, available, single men, that she no longer wishes to spend time with them, since they aren’t promoting her cause.

Well, I guess that leaves no room for doubt!

Young people are spending hours on Facebook, photographing themselves and posting the photos of their latest greatest coup, bragging about their newest bestest friends, yet, do they actually know how

To make and retain a real friend which will endure a lifetime?

The superficiality of many people is obvious, and actually quite frightening. Constantly seeking out their ‘new best friend’ , or who can help advance their career or social life, and giving little or nothing in return, and thinking that this is perfectly ok.

What had once been described as the ‘ME’ generation has now expanded to include adults who should know better.

It used to be that one aspired to see their name in print only 3 times in their lifetime, birth, marriage and death, and it was considered as ‘common’ to have one’s life detailed in the public eye. There are some people today who are such publicity hounds that they will do practically anything to appear in print, and a film clip on the local news, well, priceless.

Walking down the street has become a new sport dodging the rude people furiously texting and talking on their telephones.

And WHY when you just left your apartment, do you need to get into the elevator texting or making a phone call? Should the rest of the people in the elevator be somehow impressed that you actually know someone you can call? Do you really think your conversation is so important that we all need to hear it?

We have to deal with small town politicians with delusions of grandeur deciding who is important and who is not, as if somehow, they consider themselves the arbiter’s of good taste. The mere act of characterizing people they actually don’t know, denotes that they are in fact practicing extremely bad taste and extremely low class.

If one doesn’t actually take the time to get to know people, who to say how important they are or are not.

But cruelness in order to aggrandize oneself seems to becoming the social norm, ruthless social climbing while demeaning others only works for so long.

Don’t they realize that the people they criticize actually speak to one another?

At some point this offensive behaviour becomes common knowledge and once the proverbial cat is out of the bag, it becomes like an unstoppable avalanche.

At the end of the day, why on earth would anyone want to be friends or even acquaintances with someone who has such a large ego that there is no room for anyone except for those who are on bended knee to them? There is no excuse for cruelty.

When reality finally sets in they will find themselves well and truly alone…….as they richly deserve.



 

The Demise of “Nice”

In an age when one’s public image seems to be overly important, it is fascinating to observe the sheer numbers of people who along the way have lost all sense of courtesy and the ability to recognize or appreciate someone who is genuinely ‘nice’.
People with good manners are being treated as ‘weak’ to the extent that some kind and gentle souls are being mocked in public and spoken of as doormats for the simple crime of being nice.

There are no end to the number of self aggrandizing bullies out there who are rude, arrogant, and publicly dismiss others without even the most modest knowledge of who they are. They seem to feel that unless they are like them, constantly bragging about who they are, who they know, and what they do, then the others are of no value. They gossip, insult people with no reason, and  interrogate people publicly in order to ‘put them down’ . Nothing worse than a group of aspiring ‘socialites’ who have the audacity to think they can decide who is ‘in’ and who is ‘out’. Ironically, most of the same socialites who are living off the largesse of their husbands who pay for the designer clothes, memberships in posh clubs, and pay for their meals in expensive restaurants. Their ego’s are so far out there, and attitude towards others who have not married quite as well as them, that they forget they are only the ‘wives of’ and not the actual successful individual. Even when their husbands decide they have had enough of being married to a bitch, and ditch them for someone younger and kinder, these individuals continue along the same path of criticism and condescension.

We hear people constantly complaining about the younger generation’s lack of common sense and good manners, but unfortunately it seems to cross all socio-economic paths, and has exploded to a point that the pendulum is about to switch sides.

Employers are now actually seeking individuals with ‘soft skills’, ie, the ability to work in a team, and to be able to cross all levels in an organisation. Potential hires are being taken out to meals in restaurants so that their manners in public can be measured. If they are rude with the help staff, then it goes without saying that they will be rude to underlings. If they have no table manners, they have no manners.

When a gentleman holds the door open for a ‘lady’, the correct response is ‘thank you’, however, for some bizarre reason, some women actually snarl at the men that they ‘can open their own *&^ door’

Sending a ‘Thank You’ note to some socialites seems to provoke mockery.

Saying ‘Please’, ‘Thank You’, and ‘I Beg your Pardon’ seems to illicit some people to be intolerably rude.

Peer pressure on girls who are teenagers or in their low twenties to be promiscuous, strangely enough, by other girls their own age, who are promiscuous, forces them to have low self esteem ,which is ludicrous. Since when is being loose the sign of being a loser?!!

From shop clerks who spend hours admiring themselves in the mirror fussing with their hair or lipstick, speaking or texting on mobile phones, cashiers who chat with one another while clients are 5 deep in queues, service staff who are intolerably rude, bullies on the playground or work, receptionists who leave the phone ringing incessantly while they chat with their friends, people interrogating others to see if they are ‘important enough’, people out in restaurants texting while ignoring their hosts, good manners and ‘nice’ seem to have momentarily been displaced.

But don’t fear, manners have always been in fashion, and they are coming back with a vengeance.  Nice is appreciated by people who are nice,
And increasingly by those who are tired of being spoken down to.

Nice is never really out of fashion. 

Social Animals

A few months ago, I wrote about social climbers, and received some interesting feedback from some of the readers. In speaking with people, just when you think you have heard everything, someone comes up and knocks you off your feet with the latest faux-pas.

It is interesting how some people decide who is in and who is out based on their decision of whether or not they like the person or think there is something to be gained from being their friend. They ostracize people ruthlessly, spread malicious gossip, and spend an inordinate amount of time being negative towards someone, who in many cases, is not what they expected. Some of the put-downs are really quite something….telling someone that ‘you are the only one …..’ , ‘how did you get into this private club’ …, ‘who invited you?..’ as if by some feat of magic, they are the only ones in the room of any importance. The best of course, are parties where the guests are told who is being excluded, and the reasons why. One business man held a party for his single friends, and told everyone not to breathe a word about it as his rich married clients would be offended that he held a cocktail party and didn’t invite them, another businessman, who is the worst name dropper ever, actually had the audacity to hold 2 Christmas parties, one day after the other, and labelled one ‘losers night’.
The question MUST be asked, if his guests were losers, why on earth did he invite them? Word spread around the city like a brushfire, and he succeeded in offending a lot of very important people, The worst thing is, apparently he served the leftovers from one party to the guests at the second party…..and they heard about it. Did he really think people wouldn’t talk?

In one gesture, he rendered everyone speechless, and ensured that he was removed from a great number of lists himself, although he still doesn’t really understand what it is that he did wrong. He actually thinks that it was socially acceptable to humiliate his guests.

What must go through the mind of these people that somehow they actually believe that they are special? A bigger house, a better car, more money in the bank?
There is always someone better looking, more popular, richer, more connected and more. The only thing they are succeeding in doing, is making themselves lose credibility. In the eyes of their little circle of friends they may be entertaining in telling their stories, but for anyone on the outside their behaviour is acutely embarrassing. They always have a terse word about others, but they never find the time or the energy to actually find out who people are before they speak ill of them.

Life plays funny games on people, and cruelty eventually catches up . There is nothing to be gained by humiliating someone, it is not sweet, cute or even remotely entertaining.
Think about it, and think how many people are richer, better looking or more successful than you are……and think about the fact that the ugly duckling often turns into the swan. You never know where you will end up in life. The person you insulted could be the one who could ultimately save your life.

SERVICE Industry

Let me once again re-iterate the word SERVICE. That means the service of your customers or potential customers, You know, those people who pay your salary.

One of the most common complaints today, is with the voice dripping with condescension on the other end of the line when one calls to make a reservation in a pricey restaurant. First, you are put on hold, then told they are incredibly busy and will be back in a moment, then the breathless ‘hello’ as if your time is of no interest or value to them. The negotiation as to the time and day the restaurant will deem to allow you into it’s hallowed halls to pay for overpriced, over spiced food. One must wonder what exactly goes through the head of these individuals. One trendy fusion Asian-French Restaurant kept us on the phone waiting for well over 10 minutes to make a simple reservation. No, 8pm wasn’t acceptable, but 8:45 was, but a lecture to tell us that we must absolutely arrive on time. We arrived early on the appointed night, to discover an amazingly pretentious greeter, a half-empty restaurant, good tables which were empty, terrible tables full, an attitude when we suggested that we didn’t want the assigned table, and mind-numbingly slow bad service. By 10pm the restaurant was 3/4 empty. The staff spent the entire evening fussing and preening themselves in front of the mirrors, and actually complaining about the clients. The food was totally unimaginative, the setting a very poor rip-off of a well known London Restaurant, prices over the moon, a grotesquely over-priced and not exciting wine list, and washrooms which weren’t the cleanest or most interesting off in Siberia. Furthermore, I can’t possibly imagine how someone older and not totally mobile was expected to be able to reach them- up stairs, around a corner, down a corridor. Forget wheelchair access.

Somehow, it is assumed that if you can afford to frequent these trendy restaurants, that you aren’t stupid. Obviously one must be intelligent enough to have worked for the cash in your pocket. What on EARTH are these people thinking? That clients are stupid and blind and we can’t see that with all your advertising everywhere, that your restaurant is half empty and all the staff seem to care about is their own image?

The same things apply with ‘Customer Service’ desks in shops, banks and government departments. How many times have you reached the counter only to have a rude employee look over you as if you are invisible, put a sign on the wicket and walk away, even though you are the only one in the queue. You are then expected to wait for 30-70 minutes while they either go on ‘break’ or for lunch. Forgetting that your time is also of value, and presumably you took time off work to be there. Spending the 5 minutes serving you would not have been such a hardship for them. And the polite response that you are the last one before they go for their ‘break’ or lunch.

The endless being put on hold on telephone ‘Customer Service’ lines, to wait over 20 minutes sometimes, only to have someone from half way around the world with a bad accent, who doesn’t understand two thirds of what you say, is rude, and finally hangs up on you because they don’t want it to appear that they couldn’t answer your question.

If you are being paid to provide a service, smile, provide the service, THANK your customer, they are the ones paying your salary, and then move on to the next. If you are having a bad day, don’t blame it on the people paying your wages.

Somehow there seems to be a common thread – treat your clients like ignorant children and think they will flock to continue to do business with you. With the internet today, word tends to get around at the speed of light. One has to pity the investors in some of these ventures, as they are usually not aware of how poorly the clients are treated. With all the social networking services available both on mobile phones and the internet, it is seconds today from being in business to being ruined. Companies should remind their ‘Customer Service’ Representatives about this fact.

Social Climbers

Everyone has met a few of them…..you go to a cocktail party, and are introduced to someone who has an inflated view of their self worth, and is constantly looking over the shoulder of the person they are speaking with in case someone more important comes through the door. Some of them are more elegant and discreet than others, and some think they are above it all, and their disgraceful behaviour  towards others is totally normal. Whether or not you are 16, 26 or 60, we have unfortunately all been at the mercy of those who think they are somehow special, and deserve to hob nob only with the rich and famous.

One of the things about growing older (not me, of course!) is that hindsight is truly 20/20. As someone who has met some of the wealthiest and most prominent people in the world, it is fairly hard to impress me, and simply money is certainly not the way to do it. Having grown up in London, my perceptions are somewhat moulded by my childhood abroad.

At recent garden party, one incredibly rude guest RSVP’d, then turned up and took all the fruit from one of the host’s fruit bushes to make jam. She came into the kitchen to survey the crowd, and when she ascertained that there was no-one there sufficiently important for her, off she went, with no thank you, no excuses, other than the fact that she had ‘things to do’. One must ask the following questions…..1. Why did she RSVP to say she was coming.

2. If she had time to drive all the way over, certainly she had time to stay for a cocktail. 3. What could possibly be so important that she should snub everyone in the room by making it evident that she didn’t consider them important enough.4. And most importantly, the hosts had planned their menu based upon the number of guests who had mentioned they would be coming. It is rude and disrespectful to have your hosts provision food and drink for you and then not have the good manners to at least stay a while and participate.

Yes, we all had a truly lovely time, and interestingly the group had no social climbers, so everyone mingled and exchanged ideas and knowledge. Many chairs were exchanged so that people could move about and speak with each other. The sign of a successful party and very generous hosts.

There is some tasty irony in this story, inasmuch as this same ‘turbo-prop setter’ as opposed to a ‘jet-setter’ went bankrupt several years ago and lived at the generosity of several people over the years, yet continued to carry on as if the homes in which she resided were actually hers, instead of the truth, which was that she was actually living at the generosity of her hosts.

It appears to me, that if anyone should make an attempt to be generous, it is her, yet it appears etiquette is something sorely missing in her vocabulary. She has forgotten that she would have been living in the street if it wasn’t for the generosity of others.

Another well known social climber and snob is actually the mistress to a fairly wealthy married man. Seeing her walk down the street with her dark glasses is something to behold, yet many know exactly how her rent is paid, and it certainly isn’t with cash. She has decided that although the man will never divorce his current wife and marry her, that somehow she is special, and deserves special treatment, and only the best. The Hermes bags which are flashed are actually fakes, albeit good ones, the Chanel shoes are also copies, yet the arrogance and attitude of this woman and sense of entitlement are astounding, not to mention  the condescending  way she speaks and actually pronounces when she makes a statement, as if we should actually all be in awe of her.

Another social climber came into a dining room where 20 –25 people were seated, interrupted the speaker and the entire room to introduce her guest, and brag about what function she was coming from. She kept on for at least 10 minutes until the hostess was obliged to ask if they were staying or leaving. Funnily enough, they were actually leaving. Once she checked out the room and decided that there were bigger fish to be had elsewhere, she announced that she had other stops to make and would be running off.  Translation, she was going to the next event to see if the people were more important with her ‘posse’ in tow.

Several months ago, I ran into a woman I have known for over 30 years while  in a shop , after not seeing one another for several years. NOT someone I particularly care to socialise with. I was absolutely interrogated as to what I had been up to and with whom. It wasn’t successful on her part, as I always refuse to participate in the ‘my friends are better than yours’ game. This was actually one of the few times that I was publicly rude to someone. Her loud squeaky voice is jarring, and can be heard across any store. The questioning game was so astounding that at one point I advised her I was late as I was meeting someone at my house to write music, something I have been doing for a very long time, She squealed loudly that she was unaware I had ever done anything artistic or musical in my life, and this was news to her. Enough being enough, I finally turned around and suggested that if she had spent even 10% of the time actually getting to know me as opposed to gossiping about me behind my back, perhaps she would have actually known that I had been writing for years, and that in fact, she might actually have more interesting friends if she actually asked about people genuinely as opposed to always gossiping about everyone behind their back.

She is one of these women who have had the same group of friends forever, and they sit around and absolutely  rip everyone to shreds if they don’t know them, with a self-righteous tone, which is so sad, the joy of life is actually getting to know people from different races and walks of life so that one can learn and appreciate.

I never understood this game.

Young and old, we all face these individuals. Some of us realize who they are and what the game is,and learn to smile brightly while one is being questioned. Others are offended. The big question to ask, is, 30 years on, what on earth has been accomplished by being a rude social climber when decidedly you are in the same place you started 30 years before.

Is there a lesson in this? Yes, open your mind and more importantly use your ears instead of your mouth. You might be pleasantly surprised.