Shortly after they got together, Clark and Tim decided to dedicate their lives to pleasure.
Fully embracing the lazy dictum that perception is reality, they began to see the world through rose-colored eyes. Everything good became great. Every meeting was phenomenal . Every new cocktail sensational, every bar heavenly, every workout mind-blowing, every friend the most precious, every party the most fun ever, every barbecue was blessed with the most perfect sunset. In fact, every day gave evidence they were the specific beneficiaries of a beneficent nature.
But there was a little planning too.
The charities they supported were all good causes but also had good fund-raisers. Doing good did not preclude a good time. Nothing enhanced the flavor of barbecued shrimp with cilantro sauce like helping Honduran immigrants find living accommodation.
An iPhone, quickly snapped, sent their experiences to Facebook.
They became Facebook Boswells, effusive chroniclers of themselves, one wonderful time after another. Bars, restaurants, cities, parties, now weddings, football games merged in one smiling photo op.
All this, of course, was dependent on income. These were not Ira Gershwin’s “Plenty of Nothin’” pleasures. You needed plenty of somethin’.
Those unbelievable watering holes, those fabulous restaurants, that stunningly thin veal scallopine, the theater weekends in New York tracking Stephen Sondheim productions and Neil Patrick Harris: cost-a-packet.
But Clark and Timmy were not alone. Their friends seemed to fly at the same altitude of fun and fundedness. No kids to support, and everyone had successful careers. But there was never mention of their jobs.
It was impossible to know what anyone actually did.
Work was a second, less important life. Being continually on the move (JFK to ORD 9:15, fabulous stewardess, great omelette) entertained and reporting it was their real vocation. They were Type Es, not Type As. And they didn’t need GQ or Vogue to feature them. They had the internet and could bear witness to each other’s internet celebrity.
Andy Warhol may have promised that all Americans would be famous for 15 minutes. But the internet took that promise and extended it.
Clark and Tim and friends shared more than the same notion of the good life. They shared similar gym-trained bodies. No longer exactly young, but toned and tanned enough for pictures by the various pools they appeared in or around together. Men and women shared the same big smiles, as if a key light was trained on their camera-turned faces.
This was the good life without the dark bits. AIDS no longer casted a shadow. Drugs were not a big presence. Being and looking healthy, working out and being buff, wearing nice clothes and smiling for the camera—narcissism—that was their drug. The thing is, you could never rest. You always have to be on the lookout for the next event, the next unadulterated pleasure, the next photo op.
Living for pleasure, in public, is a life’s work.