Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Goods

JUNE 15, 2012

As I approach her driveway again, I can’t help but feel that familiar feeling of envy creeping up on me. Not for her husband or for her children but for her money and lifestyle. I never thought I would get to this point – I always promised myself that I would respect my self worth and happiness enough to know that money wasn’t everything. Besides, I have a great family and friends, and morals high enough to scale the Berlin Wall. That’s good enough, right?

But then again, I made that promise before I was in my mid-twenties – too old to feel young and innocent anymore, and too young to truly be respected in the business world. Before I had spent eight years of my life living in Los Angeles, alone, in school debt, and with everyone around me showing off their Louboutins, Kate Spades, or Lamborghinis.

It does rub off on you. At least it did on me.

I mean, the rich even get the better air in Los Angeles. I breathed deeply as I got out of my beat up Ford explorer just before starting my day job as a personal assistant.

I walked into the house that day yearning for a piece of what they had. The house was quiet. The mom and nanny had taken the twins to a play date in Beverly Hills. The dad was working with a major Hollywood actor making the next big comedy. There was only the maid doing the laundry.  I took the clean clothes that she had just washed and folded, and put them in their huge, carpeted, walk-in closet.

Once in there, I remembered a conversation we had the week before. “I have so many clothes, I don’t even remember what I have half the time,” she giggled, popping an organic raspberry from Whole Foods in her mouth. “But then again, one can never have enough, right?” I nodded, thinking of my wardrobe of Forever 21, H&M and hand-me-downs.  My entire wardrobe probably cost the same as one of her dresses.

A voice in my head thought, I wonder what threads made in Italy actually felt like on the skin. Maybe I’ll just try one shirt on for size. She wouldn’t mind.

Instantly, I felt my heart racing. I felt like I did that one time as a teenager when I really wanted black eyeliner, but my mom wouldn’t yet let me buy it. We were shopping in Rite-Aid, and pocketing the $2 pencil was too easy. I felt so guilty afterwards that I immediately returned it.

I knew I shouldn’t try on her clothes. Of course I did. I was in my mid-twenties and absolutely, 100% knew better. I come from a good family. I went to USC. I was educated and (sometimes) rational.

But, alas, I did. It started with a tank top. A harmless little tank top by Trina Turk. The price tag was still on – $158. I gasped. I wouldn’t spend $158 on a hair cut, let alone a tank top. And she had the audacity to have never worn it. I all of a sudden felt bad for the tank top. This beautiful tank top with black and white horizontal stripes had never seen the light of day. What other clothes were dying a slow death in this woman’s closet?

I moved on to a dress. A dress by Laundry. Ironic, since this dress would never be found in the laundry. Dry clean only. It fit me like a glove, and the glow of the blue and green pattern matched my olive skin perfectly. I kept going – DKNY, French Connection, Sue Wong, Rachel Zoe – all names that I had heard of, but never felt between my finger tips. Before I knew it, there was a pile of clothes on the center cushion, I was standing there topless with no bra on since half of the clothes could only be worn braless. Obviously.

The maid walked in with some more clothes, took one look at me, and scuttled out.

My face burned, I got dressed and ran back to the office to finish my work. I forgot about it for two solid weeks until one day, my boss walked into the office. Apparently, the maid had mentioned that she thought she heard someone in the house one day (they had a burglary a few months earlier), and she made her watch the security camera videos. Little did I know the security cameras were hooked up in the closet. She saw me, topless, trying on all of her clothes.

She just couldn’t understand how someone in her mid-twenties would do such a thing. “Of course, when I was a teenager, I would do something like that, but seriously, Meagan, you’re 25!” Why she didn’t fire me that day I’ll never know.

I still attribute it all to my quarter life crisis. It makes you do crazy things. But never again will I fawn over someone else’s possessions like that. Isn’t that in the Bible or something?

But what did I really learn here? Never trust the maid.

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