It’s embarrassing to watch, really. I hate to even say anything, but—these poor souls! By which I mean not souls of poor folk, of course, but rather souls we can’t help but look on with a grimace of patronizing pity before we look away.

It’s been so—well, painful, to witness the newfound social mobility facilitated by the recent market situation. Less painful like, “Aww,” and more like, “Eww.” To hear the masters of the universe inhale sharply and wonder aloud whence rent will come this month, to watch them packing their lunches in Citarella bags and munching with the peons they haven’t laid off yet over noon-hour, to even think of them perspiring ostentatiously back in coach—it’s about as nauseating as a McMansion with plaster Corinthian columns.

Heavens, don’t they know how obvious they’re being? Again, eww. Conspicuous nonconsumption is so Patty Hearst. We will soon have to hear how their children are the first in their families not to go to college, how canned soup is good food, how they bought a dress on consignment or, if you can believe this, at the Salvation Army (“…but it looks perfectly new; you’d never be able to tell”; so why are you telling us?). They clearly never got the pink slip about the noble poor, who suffer in silence if you give us a fifth of Old Crow or an eighth of weed—and not just in bear markets.

They may be riding mass transit in the middle of the day dressed in old casuals, but they will never escape their patrimony. You can smell it on their breath like Moët. Their faces are just a shade too unlined even months after the layoff. They have straight, white teeth. And they still don’t give anything to the hunchback beggars or the acrobatic, nonwhite teenagers who pass down the aisle ever more frequently these days, not the way we, the old moneyless, do.

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