Sunday, December 31, 2006

Pursuing Rich and Famous Prey

While writing this book, I excitedly told anyone who would listen that I was exploring what science says makes people fall in love. If my listeners were single and searching, I'd then ask them what type of partner they'd like to make fall in love with them. Sometimes, after the first wave of predictable answers like someone kind, loving, and intelligent, came another swell. Some love-seekers gushed about finding a lover who was rich, powerful, cultured, and even high-class. It is with a degree of embarrassment that I write this sensitive chapter, but the market dictates. If you've set your sights on Quarry way above your own status, you need special trappings. In other parts of the book there are techniques to come across as more attractive, intelligent, gracious, and kind. Now let's talk about how to come across as richer, more refined, higher class, or higher status to attract like Quarry. The Look of Money What special hunting outfit do you need to pursue pedigreed prey? Obviously, you're going to leave your Hawaiian shirt and polyester pantsuit in the closet. Rich birds have a special eagle eye for those of the same expensive feathers. The look of wealth goes from your haircut right down to your feet. Don't try to sneak one cheap detail into your ensemble. Spring for a fifty-dollar haircut, an expensive watch, real gold jewelry. It shows. A pair of K mart shoes stands out like a sign flashing imposter in otherwise million-dollar duds. Better to sport twenty-dollar socks fraying at the ankle than new cheapies you picked up in the supermarket checkout line. TECHNIQUE #50: LET YOUR RAGS SHOW RICHES Gentlemen, go for one handmade suit. Make sure your tailor is expert in the delightfully arcane details of flaps, vents, lapels, and stitching. Ladies, you can dress off the rack, but make sure the rack has a recognizable designer's name over it. When chasing costly Quarry, make sure nothing adorns your body that costs less than $100, with the possible exceptions of your socks and undies.
The Sound of Class Another obvious class determinant is language. Talking rich does not mean flinging out fakeries like, "When my chauffeur drove me to Elizabeth Arden this morning in my Bentley . . ." It does mean paying attention to the words you drop. Avoid low-class klunkers. Using euphemisms for certain words reveals lower stature. In England, where people are more conscious (or at least less embarrassed) about matters concerning class, a writer named Nancy Mitford wrote a magazine article about upper-class and non-upper-class language, or U (for upper-class) and Non-U (for non-upper-class, or lower-class) language. 44 As soon as the magazine hit the newsstands, it caused a national frenzy. As Phillip Toynbee put it in the London
Observer, the article became a sort of a "How to Tell Your Friends from the Apes." Mitford gave examples of U and Non-U words. For example, a very proper upper-class Brit, upon being introduced, would say, "How do you do?" The other very upper-class Brit would nonsensically repeat the question back: "How do you do?" However, a lower-class, or Non-U, Brit, upon being asked, ''How do you do?" would actually have the crassness to answer the question: "Very well, thank you,'' or, worse, "Pleased to meet you, I'm sure." Another big giveaway of apelike status is using euphemisms. Lower classes used words like wealthy, whereas the upper classes called it like it is, rich. The Non-U crowd euphemized lavatory paper, whereas upper-class folks said toilet paper. Do we do make these same upper- and lower-class judgments in America? Yes, unfortunately, we do. In a way, it's worse here because we don't admit it. When pursuing pedigreed prey, simply stamp out euphemisms. Call a spade a spade. It's toilet, not little boys' room. It's penis and vagina, not pecker and pussy. When they talk about their family jewels, the American U crowd is referring to the ones in the safe on the wall. If a word is just too crude, resort to French. Backside is out. Derriere is in. TECHNIQUE #51: LET YOUR TONGUE SHOW RICHES To trap pedigreed prey, you needn't collect upper-class words and memorize them, but do cut the euphemisms. (Don't forget to use the Echoing technique. It will save you from making many faux pas.) When socializing with swells, pay attention to your speaking voice. Keep it low, keep it dulcet, and keep it clear. I once decided to give my voice a much needed boost and consulted an actress friend of mine, Barbara, who had a beautiful speak- ing voice. Barbara's voice had an elegant ring to it. In fact, she made a living doing voiceovers for expensive cars and jewelry. I knew Barbara had invested several thousand dollars in voice training, so I asked her what she got out of it. Was it worth it? "Yes," she replied. "But it could have all been summed up in one sentence." In a voice dripping with rubies, Barbara told me to pronounce every syllable of every word. TECHNIQUE #52: THE SOUND OF CLASS The secret to a well-heeled tongue is, quite simply, to pronounce all of your syllables and finish every word that issues forth from your mouth. What Does the U Crowd Talk About? If you intend to do much prospecting on Easy Street, learn the street language of the residents. Listen attentively to get the drift of conversations. You'll soon sense that some topics are in, others are out. For example, the arts are in. How much something costs is out. (After all, the rich can have whatever they want, whenever they want it, and to heck with the cost.) Current events are in. Strong political opinions are out. Tributes are in. Teasing is out. Avocations are in. Vocations are out. Upon rare occasions, I get invited (as the token working-class person, I'm sure) to parties studded with people whose main battle in life is fighting off charities seeking donations. At most parties, I enjoy talking about my work, but at these gatherings, I've learned not to don a friendly smile and ask "What do you do?" Many pedigreed pups don't do anything— at least not for pay. In the case of prestigious prey? Well, you should just know what they do. It's an insult to ask.
TECHNIQUE #53: DON'T ASK "WHAT DO YOU DO?" Develop an ear for appropriate topics of conversation. Pedigreed and other prestigious prey have very sensitive toes. You don't want to go around stomping on them. Above all, avoid the favorite party question, "And, what do you do?" It tags you as so working class. Use Status Words with Status Prey People from richer backgrounds have richer clothes, richer houses, richer cars, and richer vocabularies. They don't necessarily have big cars, but they do tend to avoid the common little ones. It's the same with their words. They don't often use big ones, but they do avoid the common little ones that have little impact. To be well-spoken in the well-heeled, high-accomplishment crowd, use the technique I call your personal thesaurus. Think of some words you often use, for example, the overused words good and smart. It's very common to say, "You look good" or "That's a smart idea." Take a thesaurus (a dictionary of synonyms) down from the library shelf. Look up smart and good. You'll find dozens of richer synonyms. Like trying on a suit of clothes, choose three or four words that seem to fit your personality. Then, Hunters, the next time you want to compliment your classy Quarry and tell her she looks good, say, "Oh, Sue, you look ravishing," or stunning. or "Sue, how striking you look," or "Oh, my goodness, you look elegant." Huntresses, you'd like to compliment your highbrow Quarry by telling him he did something smart? Instead, say, "Oh, George, that was so clever of you," or how resourceful, or ingenious. "George, that was so astute of you." Give high rollers high-rolling compliments. Cultivate your own personal thesaurus of not big words, but words you like, elegant words that fit you. Use them a few times with your friends and family. Soon, just like breaking in a new pair of shoes, you'll be comfortable chatting with your well-spoken Quarry.
TECHNIQUE #54: YOUR PERSONAL THESAURUS To convey a rich background, choose rich words from the thesaurus. Like a beautiful necklace, try them on, then let them fall, like pearls, from your lips while chatting with your prestigious prey.

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