A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Last week, Henry Winston Co. bought a diamond for $50,000,000.00. Holy crap! That’s a lot of zeroes for what is essentially a barbeque briquette. (FYI – diamonds are really just uber-squashed coal.) The auction took less than five minutes, and the price was a record for “one of the world’s greatest diamonds.” Clearly, I don’t run in those circles because, even though I’ve heard of the Hope Diamond and the Koh-i-Noor, I had no idea this little bauble existed. (And, honestly, in a couple of weeks I’m going to forget all about it.) It’s not that I am so airy-fairy (artsy-fartsy?) that I’m not impressed by 50 million bucks – like most (honest) people — I am, but, the truth is I don’t value jewelry.
This isn’t a judgement call. I have no philosophical problem with Meryl Streep wearing a bracelet worth twice the price of my Toyota or George Clooney giving Amal a rock that could, theoretically, feed a Malawian village from now until the end of time. If that’s what they value – so be it. It’s just not my thing.
To put this into perspective, I don’t value knives, either. (I’m not a chef.) Or wrenches. (I’m not a mechanic.) Or the going rate for a PGA golfer. (I’ve never been a fan.) My point is that value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. So, who the hell beholds 50 million dollars’ worth of anything? To be perfectly honest, I can’t even comprehend 50 million! Dollars, cats, rats, one-eyed waddling penguins? That’s just too many to count. Do they fill five football fields? Or laid end to end, do they stretch in a line from Paris to Marseille? (Frankly, for that kind of money – somebody better get laid!)
Oscar Wilde once said a cynic was “a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Luckily, our world hasn’t totally succumbed to that — yet. The stuff most people value – friends, family, love, laughter, etc. – still don’t have a price tag.
“OMG! WalMart is having a sale on parents. I’ve had these ones for years, and they’re gettin’ kinda old and grouchy. I think I’ll go down and pick up a new pair.”
“I can’t wait for Black Friday to get a bunch of cheap friends to come to my Christmas party.”
“How much for dinner and a movie?”
That last one might be a little too close to home for some people … but … you get my meaning.