Saturday, October 01, 2022

The Prince of Poulett 

Drake-level decadence.

In the act of evening ablutions, I realized just how much I enjoy rinsing my teeth with warm water from my Waterpik. Then I thought how absurdly luxurious my life is. My home has no built-in gym, nor subterranean theatre, nor even a parking space for a car I don’t own. Yet, with electric light, indoor plumbing, refrigeration and heating and cooling I live a life far more comfortable than any French king who had to poop in a chamber pot, even if he did have servants to deal with it. It’s been said if you have electricity, a refrigerator and indoor plumbing, you are more affluent than 75% of the world’s population that live without these utilities. Living in the top 25% isn’t so bad, though clearly many people in Canada have these things and still live in poverty.

I recall my brother Mike and I commenting on one occasion on how strange it was that we owned so many specific shoes: for running, for winter, for biking or hiking or simply walking. My father interjected that when he was a boy he had only a single pair of shoes, which was sort of our point - how did it come to be that we had so many shoes? I’m guessing my father forgot that when his sons were children we only had two pairs of shoes. We had the sneakers we wore everyday, and the “good” shoes we could only wear for an hour on Sunday. We also had a pair of winter boots. The closet by the back door contained some odd number of rubber boots that were generally considered communal. As an adult, I now have more shoes than I need or want and still wonder how it came to be so.

Beyond footwear, I live better and in greater privilege than most kings in the history of the world. Did Herod have a Waterpik? No. Did King Tut have air conditioning? No. Alexander had a city and the world’s greatest library named after him but I have him beat. I have the entire works of Shakespeare on my phone. I can best King Louis’ collection of naughty lithographs in a few clicks. My humble estate has two flush toilets which is exactly two more than Charlemagne had seen in his entire life. Also, I can buy food from anywhere in the world, whenever I want. Berries not in season? Don't worry it's "in season" somewhere on the planet. Sure Caesar sacked the Gauls (and probably took their wine) and had an Egyptian hookup for wheat, but my fridge is full of produce from throughout the Americas and beyond. My larder has Italian pasta and Asian noodles, I can buy eggs (white or brown) in three sizes, or four if you include quail eggs. Breads, cakes, meats, fish and fruit from every continent except Antartica are all within my grasp.

To Hannibal I would ask, "Is it really worth it?"

Basically, if I were with Hannibal crossing the Alps I'd have to ask, "Is it really worth the trouble? Are you sure you want to sack Rome? Romans still wipe their bums with loofahs. Oh OK, so you're not wiping at all, so I could see where sponges might seem pretty great, but trust me, it's crazy unhygienic." I guess it's all relative. Relative to a few hundred years ago, few people alive could match my modest opulence, but by today's standards I'm not really rocking Drake-level decadence. Still in the grand scheme of things, I'll enjoy what I have, I shall not covet my neighbour's stuff and I’ll really enjoy rinsing my teeth with warm water.


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