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Healthy and Wealthy but Not Too Wise

April 12, 1998|ANNE BEATTS | Anne Beatts is a writer who lives in Hollywood

Remember the old saying "You can never be too thin or too rich"? Well, ever since seeing Helen Hunt at the Academy Awards, we know that you can be too thin, and it's equally likely that some people are too rich.

Not you or me, of course. No matter how much money we might have (and, as of this week, I've turned most of mine over to the federal government, and plan to subsist for the rest of the month on water and restaurant catsup), we're just "comfortable." (Or in my case, uncomfortable.) But those other people, gol' darn 'em, have too much money.

Take Randy Quaid. Randy Quaid seems like a regular, down-to-earth kind of a guy, just your run-of-the-mill, jeans-clad movie star who might even take a load off and knock back a few frosties with you if you bumped into him in, say, a sports bar during the playoffs. Am I right?

That's why I was more than startled to run into Randy Quaid in a recent issue of "In Style" magazine, a publication I turn to regularly on a need-to-know basis--when I need to know, for instance, what kind of depilatory Jada Pinkett Smith prefers above all others. (This is L.A., after all. It's best to be up on these things. You never know what topic might arise at a pitch meeting as part of the requisite preliminary chitchat.)

"InStyle's" seven-page pictorial on the Quaids, Randy and Evi, treated us, among other delights, to an insider's view of their entryway and dining room. The floor was heaped with piles of what appeared, to my uneducated eye, to be dead leaves. I checked the caption. "Evi added the leaves for dramatic effect," it informed me. Well, it worked. She got my attention.


I thought about the leaves for a long time. I couldn't stop thinking about them. In fact, I thought about them so much that I missed last week's column deadline. Do the Quaids change the leaves periodically or just stick with the originals? Do they ever feel the urge to shuffle through them? And surely they don't have any pets? Finally I had to slap myself. "Snap out of it," I hissed in my best Cher imitation.

But still, I couldn't help asking myself, Why would people scatter dead leaves in their dining room? The only answer I could come up with not requiring a clinical diagnosis was: Those people have too much money. Too much money and, just possibly, too much time on their hands.

After I had more or less let go of the whole leaf thing, I came across an ad in an airline magazine--OK, OK, I don't have highbrow tastes in reading material. What do you want me to say, I'm rereading all of David Halberstam's work in chronological order when we both know that's a baldfaced lie? This column takes a lot out of me and I need a little mindless diversion. Besides, it's research.

Anyway, this ad in an airline magazine featured a "Millennium" cognac decanter in Waterford crystal topped with a 1-carat diamond set in platinum, yours for only $48,800 plus tax. What kind of person spends $50,000 on a souvenir decanter from an airline magazine? All together, now! Someone with too much money, that's who!

What to buy next? Will it go with the leaves? It's a tough call.

But simply stay at any one of three Joie de Vivre luxury hotels in San Francisco, and Dr. Charmian Anderson, a therapist on call for guests at $150 for a 50-minute hour, can help with these and other weighty decisions, like whom to cut out of the trust fund. "Hello, operator? I'd like a therapist, a shrimp cocktail and some extra pillows." What kind of person orders a shrink from room service? Someone with too much money.

And if someone has too much money, chances are that his or her children may expect to get their hands on some of it from time to time. That's why it's so neat that there's someone else willing to dole out the children's allowance--for a fee, of course.

For roughly $4,000 a semester, money manager Alain Mestat of Boston will wire $1,000 to $10,000 of a student's parents' money into the student's bank account every two weeks. (After that, there's a cutoff. If the kids want a further advance on their allowance, they darn well have to phone home themselves and ask Mom and Dad for it.)


If all this wretched excess is making you long to call out the tumbrels, stop and think a minute. True, having too much money has its joys, but it also has its sorrows. The fashion flu, for instance.

It's the disease that attacks everyone who flies to Paris for the January collections. "I always get it," Linda Evangelista, just off a private jet from Moscow, told Vanity Fair. (How's that for upgrading my reading? At least they review the kind of books I ought to pretend to have on my night stand.)

It seems British fashionista Amanda Harlech is an expert at warding off the fashion flu. According to Vanity Fair, Harlech always travels with her own organically grown echinacea angustifolia root in order to drink 10 drops of it dissolved in water every hour. It's not clear whether she grows the stuff herself (perhaps in her dining room, for dramatic effect) or simply has the gardener do it, like a good chap.

Still, I'm impressed. Think what it must be like trying to get those roots through customs. What a burden she has taken on. And all simply because . . . you guessed it. She has too much money. I wouldn't change places with her for the world.* Would you?

(* This is a baldfaced lie. Ed.)

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