Scenes from the End of Empire
Perhaps this is a tad pessimistic, but I’m at the tail end of Gen X, and I feel that we invented pessimism, or at least coated it with irony.
I had a late lunch with Evil K and a couple of his B-school friends today over at SPQR, and we lingered over the wine list since they were all Italian wines with which we lacked familiarity. Evil K asked if we wanted to split a bottle of champagne, because no one is ordering champagne now, and it would be “quite contrarian.” My response was, “That’s something out of a decline of the British empire novel. Ooh, let’s have champagne before the Germans start bombing us.”
Later, during lunch, we turned to the horrible job market for MBA second years, since banking jobs have all but disappeared. Once again, the word, “contrarian” resurfaced because Evil K said that his favorite hard question for candidates was, “Give me an investment suggestion that is both fundamental, but contrarian.” He said the only satisfactory answer he received (post-price plunge) was, “Oil.”
Afterwards, we did the Fillmore stroll up towards Jackson, and back towards Harputs. His friends asked us, “Where’s Harputs?” and our answers represented the degrees of separation in our snobbery (Me: “It’s on the wrong side of Geary.” Evil K: “It’s on the wrong side of California. What? At least I didn’t say the wrong side of Washington.”)
At the end of our afternoon, we toted our recent acquisitions around (Me: my standard Kiehl’s stable of lotions; Evil K: a second hand Navy cashmere sweater) and returned again to the ugliness of the economic meltdown. He compared it those industrial British towns that suffered under Thatcher, “Finance, gone; the American auto industry, poof, gone!”), and there was nothing to do, but sigh.