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A Field Guide to Billionaires


The billionaires meet every Saturday night, nine on the dot, at an undisclosed location—no millionaires allowed—where they eat lobster, drink gold-flecked martinis, and talk about what to do with their billions of dollars. I got a billion things at the Dollar Store, one billionaire says, while another billionaire wants to buy a country, maybe one of the ‘stans, clean it up and flip it. One billionaire walks around with a thousand million-dollar-bills in his fanny pack. Another billionaire decides to pay everybody’s college tuition, which turns out to be a bad idea when they all move home afterwards. There is one billionaire who cashes it all into pennies, the amount of which can only be expressed by scientific notation, then lays out a copper beach in Santa Monica Bay where all the other billionaires come on sunny Sunday afternoons where they take off their clothes and lay on the coins until their skin is pink and their backs are ringed with penny-sized dimples.

The very best billionaires are the ones you don’t know, living in a part of Malibu or Xanadu or Timbuktu that isn’t on the map, practicing their billionaire ways where nobody can see, fucking a thousand millionaire wives, whittling giant redwoods into toothpicks, and carving chunks of the Arctic ice shelf into neat little cubes for their Negronis, the saltiness perfectly balanced against the bitter Campari.

The secret billionaires drill for oil in your backyard where you think it’s just a guy from the city checking the sewer line. We have to dig a big hole here, he says, but don’t worry, you can pay for it in monthly installments at the preferred interest rate. Then he shows you the leaking crude and sends big tanker trucks down the alley to haul it away so it doesn’t spill all over your aspidistras, sorry about the smell.

 When a secret billionaire wants a steak, he flies to Colorado to audition the herd. He shows the best steer to his butcher, who cuts and shaves and skins and hangs and dries the whole deal, carving out New Yorks and ribeyes and tri-tips, and tougher cuts that will be slow smoked or braised in the billionaire’s kitchen by Thomas Keller. The organs and intestines go to French restaurants which give them fancy French names and sell them to millionaires for big bucks. Then a tanner makes a nice leather coat for the billionaire, and custom-stitched leather seats for his Maserati, a belt, cowboy boots, man-bag. The hooves and horns are ground into billionaire toothpaste. The teeth are made into piano keys. The bones are assembled as a play structure for the billionaire’s son when he’s home from Exeter Prep during the first two weeks of August.

It’s not always easy to be a billionaire, any billionaire will tell you. There are a billion things you have to account for. You have to decide what’s for breakfast, just like millionaires do. Nobody can take a shit for you. Actually that’s only two things, but still. Worst is, you have to sleep with one eye open so some millionaire doesn’t sneak in and take it all and be a billionaire instead of you, because believe it or not, there’s only so many billions and money does not grow on trees.

 When a billionaire suffers, everybody suffers. We cry for the billionaires, knowing that people will cry for us when we become billionaires. We know the pain of a billionaire is just like the pain of everybody else, only maybe a billion times worse because there’s so much more to lose.

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