What She Wants

How Do You Know If You've Reached the Top? The Truly Rich Lady Answers

Two years after the Truly Rich Lady divulges the secrets to climbing the social pyramid, she revisits what those rules truly mean.
ILLUSTRATOR ALYSSE ASILO
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If we are talking about the bonafide winners of this game we call the Truly Rich Life, then they are the people who have made it to the topmost tier of the annual Richie Rich Rankings.

Of course, that leaves you and even I, the Truly Rich Lady, out of the picture (this year was tough for our nuts and bolts business and we dropped a couple of levels), but that is why we keep smiling and climbing.

If you still don’t get it, it’s not just about the money. The billion-dollar financial portfolio grants you membership, but there are other things that make you a successful player—and even one of the winners—of this crazy game.

Some two years ago, I divulged the rules of how to scale the pyramid (remember, it is not a ladder) of the Truly Rich World. Manners are paramount, being invisible is important, and never talking about the money is required. In sum, be a good and sensible person who knows when to step back, speak softly, or just leave (never be the last one at the party unless you are the host of the party).

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Years of quietly observing the social shenanigans of Manila has led me to this conclusion about those rules: They don't really matter.

I, Si-si Coo, have been a good person for so long, even if a Very Old Truly Rich Person remains dismissive of my existence or the attendant at my favorite bakeshop becomes cranky when I say, “I do not have paper bills, sir.” I did not even make a scene when my Greatest Ex decided to get married without my permission (I only went a little crazy).

I have been good for quite a while, keeping my real assessment of people and things under lock and key (well, except for the things I share with you) and following all the sacred rules to the best of my abilities, but I am still not on top. Not even close. 

It is very frustrating, but a small encounter helped me realize a powerful truth: Being the Number One Lady, the very one on top, means you don't have to care about all of this. I shouldn't have to worry my pretty little head about how to eat a banana like a lady. I needn't worry about what Dee Dee thinks of my new haircut. I don't really have to be number one. 

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See, those who are impervious to the whims of social ranking are those whose wealth is so old and vast that it has become unshakeable like a great stain that you just have to live with. Thus they do not bother anymore with the opinions of the people who are poorer (the mere millionaires).

“Why should I care?” the Grand Old Lady of Diversified Businesses said, as she smooths the comforter of the bed in her hotel suite, one of many she has booked for months as her family's temporary residence while the Big House is being refreshed. “They can say whatever they want about my family and I will just lie down on this bed made of money. No, really, Si-si, I stuff my paper bills here because I do not trust banks.”

I smiled nervously as I reviewed in my head all the things I may have said about this untouchable creature. I understood what she meant. Reaching the top means you don't have to care, you can say “no” without a heavy heart, and you can expect everyone around to say, “yes,” because they do not want to get fired. Example:

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“Do you want to stay over, Si-si?” Grand Old Lady asked me. 

“Yes!” I replied. “I would love that!”

If you are offended by this revelation (what about the manners you made us follow, Si-si?!), let me flip the idea into something more palatable: As Grand Old Lady shows, winning means freedom. Being number one means you can do whatever you want because you don't answer to anyone anymore—well, except God, who is not a person, but a divine power.

To be honest, it will take a little more time for the Coos to reach that level of impregnable power through traditional means, which is to say we're still in the process of multiplying our great sum of riches into an embarrassing level of riches. But in the meantime, I can imbibe this winning attitude.

I will set myself free.

One day you’re on top of the world. Everyone adores you and all doors are open for you. Life is beautiful and magical. And then, suddenly, one stupid mistake transforms all that accrued goodwill into the gossip-of-the-day. Then, you feel awful. You want to hide in the hole found at the bottom of the social pyramid.

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Just when you think that all hope is lost and you might as well move to somewhere remote like Paris, you are saved by an impeachable power. She tells you to not worry your little head about the climb or the race or the rankings because it will never ever change. The very few on the very top will remain there forever.

You can swim and scurry till the end of time in pursuit of number one or you can just be content with where you are and who you are: a woman of means who is free to just enjoy her life or, maybe, use her resources to change the lives of others.

Before this higher power leaves, she also takes a photo with you and posts it on her social media. And for one social media cycle, you are the winner.

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C.C. Coo
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