5 Lessons You Learn Growing Up Rich
Once, when I as a young boy on the shores of Cape Cod, our family schooner capsized during a summer rainstorm, and I was stung across the cheek by a jellyfish. The pain was paralyzing, and the only reason I didn't drown was because my au pair, Francesca, had the presence of mind to swim me to shore, drag me across the sand and pee into my face. She saved my life, and I will forever remember her just like that -- a glistening hero. You may have read about it in the newspapers.I tell this story because I want to remind everyone that growing up wealthy is not always beer and skittles. Sometimes it's really hard. All kids have their respective storms to weather, and they are forced to learn as they go. Fortunately, Cracked has done what it can to make those lessons gentler by offering stories of commiseration, particularly for the penniless, the overweight and the begrudging adults . Still, there is a huge chunk of our young readership for whom no help has come. They are the privileged youth, and right now they are adrift, shocked and disoriented. But like the mighty Francesca, I will pluck them from those turbulent waters, guide them to shore and, if necessary, pee heroically in their faces. See, I kept my eyes open through childhood and learned some valuable lessons that I want to pass on. These are the five most important things I gleaned growing up rich.
Jet Packs Can Only Hover for 30 Seconds at a TimeI can't stress how important this is: A jet pack is not a toy. Well, I mean it is, but it can be dangerous, too, kind of like your Uzi or your neonatal incubator. If you're like me, you bought your first jet pack and assumed it could hover indefinitely, just like in the demos you saw on YouTube. But in truth, the commercially available jet packs can only stay in the air for around 30 seconds. So whether you bought a rocket belt from Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana or a Jet Pack H202 from Jet Pack International, the same rule still applies. And if you're thinking of adding the weight of an electric guitar and a modest sound system, your ride will be even shorter, so you'll really have to think hard about picking your route beforehand, as well as a quick guitar solo to make it worth the trouble.
The other danger you will inevitably encounter, and which no one considers until after it's too late, is that flying around urban areas makes you conspicuous. It won't just be beautiful women in highrises and the speechless children who see you drifting through the clouds like a listless god. No, there will also be the desperate, the angry and the jealous. They will see your nice jet pack and your beautiful guitar and your handsome yet functional jumpsuit, and they will want it all for themselves. Which brings us to ...
Sorry, kid. "Free Bird" is out of the question.
Your Parents Won't Negotiate With Kidnappers
When I was 7, I would leave a saucer of milk on our back step for a feral kitten I'd seen once in the bushes behind our house. After about a week, six cats started showing up and drinking the milk, and finally coyotes came and dragged off some of the cats and then howled outside our back door for me to put out more milk so that they could eviscerate more cats. I cried about it, and my mother crouched next to me consolingly to explain that this was the exact reason she would never pay my ransom if I were kidnapped.
It's true that parents love their children more than anything, but try to remember that your parents didn't get the real kind of rich by investing in richness of the heart. If they were to pay every time you were kidnapped, they would just be encouraging other kidnappers until eventually the cost would outweigh the benefit and you would find out exactly how much money you were worth. Understandably, your parents would rather you die right away than know that number, because they love you and want to protect you from such a harsh realization. You are just a kid, after all.So, if and when you are captured along with your jet pack by kidnappers, you can safely assume you are on your own. You will have to come up with a plan to free yourself by any means necessary. Remember, your life -- and at the very least, one of your fingers -- is at stake. That's why it's important to learn early on that ...
"Not just because it's a metaphor -- also because you are a harbinger of death to animals."
Suffocating Someone Always Takes Longer Than You'd Think
Inside every wealthy child is an exothermic chemical reaction waiting to happen. All of the vitamin-fortified lunches of boarding school, coupled with the rage accrued through years of parental ambivalence, have the potential to mix together and awaken a strength you never knew you had. It's a strength you always wanted and was available all along, like a Christmas gift that slips behind the armoire and that you only find months later while hunting for photographic evidence that, at some point, you belonged to parents who loved you more than playing golf with foreign dignitaries.
That strength can save you. It can break knots in the middle of the night, and it can leap on the back of a grown man, wrapping its powerful tiny arms around his neck until he falls silently to the ground as the other kidnappers sleep. However, it's important to remember that there's a big difference between shutting off air to the lungs and shutting off blood to the brain. You really want to aim for the latter, because it's much quicker. Suffocation takes a long, long time, and it only ends when the person is dead. But if you can put pressure on the carotid arteries in the neck, you can cut off the oxygen supply to the brain temporarily, and your victim will pass out in around 13 seconds. But don't think you can just slip out of that isolated cabin and be home free; there's something very important you'll need to find first ...
"And that asshole knows I love golf."
A Topographic Map Can Save Your Life
Without fail, at some point every child of a well-to-do family will end up in the middle of the woods at night after choking someone out in a cabin. Sub specie aeternitatis. Oh, incidentally, dead languages will never be of any use to you, so you can stop learning them now. When you find yourself surrounded by wilderness and trying to get home, your best friend can be a topographic map. Your kidnappers will probably have one with them in the off chance that they have to move or bury you somewhere when their plan falls apart. A topo map will not only show the fastest way home but also give you a three-dimensional understanding of the terrain using contour lines. Like the ridges of a fingerprint, these lines will show you the steepest, most dangerous areas between you and civilization.
Your best bet is to follow streams and rivers, though that will also lead you to the steepest drops if you are in the mountains. You always want to pick a path that runs parallel to streams but where the contour lines have the greatest distance between one another. Just stay off the roads -- that's exactly where they'll be looking once they realize you're gone. If you take it slow and easy, living off the land along the way and sleeping in snow caves, there's a very good chance you will make it home again. If this seems like a lot of work, just remember that the first time is always the hardest. It will all be much easier for you on the next adventure where you're forced to save your own life, maybe on the lip of a volcano next time. Which brings us to the most important lesson of all ...
Pictured: Everything you want to avoid.
No One Will Like You Unless You Lie About Your Life
Look, people don't like rich kids. I'm sorry. When the world knows you are wealthy, everyone will be looking for reasons to hate you, because you are the antithesis to the effort/reward relationship on which society is based; you have everything and you deserve nothing. You will never have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps because you have no bootstraps and no boots, only house slippers for when the heating system in the granite floors stops working.As a walking, breathing reminder to the world that life is inherently unfair, you are forced to make friends the only way you can: by lying. Wealthy children have no choice but to make up fantastic stories about their peril-filled lives so that no one can ever accuse them of squandering what they've been given, or of being ungrateful.
Kids don't have the ability to develop a charming personality or winning confidence because they are just kids, so they have to do the next best thing and make it all up. So go ahead and lie. Live a life of fictional adventure while you're young, and if you're concerned that I've now ruined your secret, don't worry -- everyone else got angry and stopped reading at jet packs.
"And when the last person had a heart attack, I was the only one left who could land the plane."
You can follow Soren's web of deceit on Twitter or his patient effort to seduce you on Tumblr.
For more from Soren, check out Kidnapped by Drug Lords: My 3rd Worst Vacation in Mexico and Infiltrating the Green Movement: Undercover on the Bandwagon.