It’s easy to lose your perspective in this world. It’s easy to start thinking you’re… you know… somebody.
Even though, in the end, you will certainly be nobody.
But, with the household staff buzzing around you like so many worker bees making things nice for the queen, it’s easy to forget that inside that Greek-columned mausoleum, inside that marble crypt… you’ll be just as dead as the nameless drunk in potter’s field.
When I think of rich people I’ve known, I always forget about Howard Hughes.
Well, I didn’t know him, personally, but an ex-GF’s mom had been a very good friend of Hughes’ second wife, the actress, Jean Peters. Peters threw a party at Hughes’ estate for my GF’s little sister on the occasion of her baptism or confirmation or… something or other.
At one point, my ex-GF said, Hughes himself came out of an upstairs study, stood by a balustrade for a moment, looking down on scores of little girls in frilly dresses, shook his head, and went back into his study.
Yeah… that was my first brush with the super rich.
It didn’t really change my life.
But my intimate connection with Hughes didn’t really end there. Later, I would become friends with the daughter of Hughes’ most famous biographer, whose unpublished manuscript was stolen and became the basis for an infamous hoax, a Hughes “autobiography” that turned out to be eerily close to reality because it was based on years of my friend’s father’s reporting. (He went on to have a bestseller of his own but that’s another story.)
I go on at length really only to show that I have no clue how the super wealthy live their lives or how they think.
Hughes was a driven man, clearly, he made a fortune in aircraft and then, perhaps drawn in by his dalliances with starlets and actresses, became a movie exec and producer.
He was, in the thinking of the time, about as rich as God’s older brother but the end of his life was shrouded in mystery as a group of former CIA and other intelligence officers insinuated themselves as his “handlers” — allowing or encouraging doctors to keep Hughes, himself, loaded on deadening painkillers, barbiturates, and powerful opiates and hypnotics.
Hughes reportedly stopped cutting his hair and fingernails, and an incipient obsessive compulsive disorder began manifesting itself, perhaps aggravated or even caused by the powerful drug cocktails that kept him in a semi-stupor while his supposed assistants ran his empire in ways that often seemed contrary to his own interests but which, perhaps not surprisingly, seemed to benefit both the handlers and their associates in the US intel and covert action communities.
Eventually, Hughes died, misunderstood, unkempt, apparently even malnourished… he was, in essence, broken and alone.
[produced dub version on Soundclick | requires Flash]