The Rich Aren’t Like Us

Michael Kittredge is a legend in the Pioneer Valley where I live. My cousin Steve once worked at the factory where the man’s fortune was built and praises him as a major mensch. A recent article in the Sunday NY Times featured details of his life and toys, an example of Nantucket’s Richest, “who leave even the rich behind.” I have always had an ambiguous feeling about Kittredge, hearing on the one hand from people who had met him that he was down to earth and a ‘regular guy.’ Why is it that we want the rich to still be like us?

I’ve met people who have been to his palatial homes in Leverett or Nantucket and say that he is so over the top, almost trying too hard to spend money lavishly in front of them, it becomes a joke. The endless rows of green fencing, the vast compounds the cavernous gyms and spas. Consumption, consumption, is this glamorous?

But it all feels like a quibble…I mean, I guess I’d like to have a 10,000 square foot beachfront manse on Nantucket, complete with a basement movie theater and a 2000 bottle cellar. “Successful people want to be with other successful people,” explained the multimillionaire. “Birds of a feather.”