Threes company in person
We’ve been wondering lately what it would take to stand shoulder to shoulder among the legions of people so important they refer to themselves in the third person. Once used exclusively by kings, queens, popes and Homey the Clown, users of the royal “we” have branched out recently to include celebrities, NBA players, disgraced CEOs of publicly traded companies, Larry King and the spouses, offspring and defense and/or divorce lawyers of any combination of the aforementioned. Patrons of the royal “we” often bestow an air of eminence upon their real estate holdings by naming them. Donald Trump has historically gone the most obvious route, dubbing nearly all of his properties after himself, using just slight variations for each designation. One of the few Trump belongings lacking his emblem is Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. In that case, however, he most likely forwent the Trump name since the notoriety of the house’s original owner prominent cereal heiress, world-renowned socialite and four-time divorcee Marjorie Merriweather Post bears a striking resemblance to his own (photos of her even indicate a similar comb-over). Other famously named homes include Kyukit, the Rockefeller estate in Westchester County, NY, President George W. Bush’s Crawford, TX, brush clearing getaway Prairie Chapel Ranch (not to mention his primary residence, The White House), Elvis’ Graceland and Green Acres, the Beverly Hills über mansion owned by billionaire financier and FOBHC (Friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton) Ron Burkle. In an interview in The New York Times last weekend, Burkle quoted an associate who referred to Green Acres in the third person. Old money types back East often refer to second homes as “camps,” which, like the Catoctin Mountains-presidential weekend retreat Camp David, usually have names. Boats always have names. The wealthier the yachtsman, the better the chance that the boat is named after the owner’s spouse or kin, the owner’s lifestyle philosophy or the manner in which the owner came into money. In almost all cases, a number immediately follows the boat’s name, usually indicating its place in the owner’s maritime collection. Like The Cynthia Anne IV, Carpe Diem XI or Her Alimony II. And no respectable house or boat name would be complete without its own logo and subsequent private line of clothing and accessories, available only to friends and family. Except in the case of Elvis and Donald Trump, whose collections are also available online.Of course not every important person uses the royal “we” or purposely names their possessions. Like our parents. Their house is not known among our brethren as Casa Cohen, Cohen Castle or even Mom and Dad’s house. Rather, much to our Dad’s dismay, it is invariably referred to by everyone (except Dad) as Mom’s house. Their room is Mom’s room and although Dad sleeps in it, too, the bed in Mom’s room is referred to as hers alone. The only room that everyone agrees to call just Dad’s is the upstairs bathroom.Our husband Rick is a bigger fan of using the first person rather than the second or third. To hear him tell it, everything is generally his or his wife’s. Like when he talks about our marriage ceremony, he says, “The crab cakes at your wedding were the best I’ve ever had, even better than the ones you ate at that restaurant on my honeymoon.” Still, while Rick has yet to embrace the royal “we” way of life, we’re going ahead and jumping on board the house-naming bandwagon anyway. Camp Carroll and Our Lady of Hopkins Avenue are just a few of the possibilities under consideration. Very few people are so important that they don’t bother with “we” they cut straight to “I.” Like Oprah. Through her tone of voice, body language and word selection, she leaves little doubt that outside input is not welcome when she makes decisions, and that her vast fortune was earned using no one’s elbow grease but her own. “Oprah money” has replaced “Monopoly money” as the way to refer to having so much it’s just plain silly.To be sure, newspapers use the royal “we” when writing editorials. Doctors frequently use it with patients to put them at ease when asking deeply personal questions or when performing invasive procedures. Expectant mothers will often proclaim, “we’re pregnant” so as to not make the father-to-be feel as if his presence after conception is unnecessary or unwanted. No one’s quite sure why kindergarten teachers use it as much as they do, especially when they’re not around their students.We’re not sure we’re ready to join the league of the pluralis majestatis just yet, but we are hopeful that with the right blend of ego, luck and infamy, we’ll get there eventually.E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Sean Beckwith is taking advantage of his column space this week to inform the public of the Best in Jest.