Why It Must Be Hard to Be Old, Even When You’re Rich


It’s simple, really. When you’re old, nobody pays attention to you. Or at least, nobody important or cool pays attention to you. Unless you pay them. And even then they can’t guarantee you a restaurant reservation. And if you can’t eat out five or six times a day, what’s the point of even living in New York City? What’s the point of even living at all? Well, there’s still some point to living. Just not in New York City. This is why all the old people are flocking upstate to stake claim to their own little slices of “hipsturbia.”

But so, restaurants. And old people. Michael Wolff—who is old and not particularly well-liked, perhaps because of his rage issues?—wrote a piece for GQ UK about how he might just have to leave New York because it is impossible to get into a restaurant for dinner. Wolff posits, “I don’t think it is possible to overstate the dominance of restaurants in urban life.” But then he proceeds to do just that! He completely overstates the dominance of restaurants in the lives of most of the urban adults that I know. But maybe I know the wrong people? Because Wolff also claims, “You’re a bore and rube if you haven’t eaten where everybody has eaten – or at least if you’re not shaking with excitement about getting there soon.” Which, sure. If you’re not having actual convulsions because you haven’t been to Aska yet, this is because you’re a rube.

But, wait. I’ve been to Aska. And I’m still pretty much a bore. But then I also have some connections. Michael Wolff has connections too, though, or at least he had connections before he proceeded to alienate them all by virtue of being a jerk. Wolff informs us, “For many years, I had a safe berth and an enviable table in the front room at Michael’s, on West 55th Street, among the most hotly contested pieces of turf in Manhattan among media people. But then Michael and I had a tiff, which at the time seemed worth taking a principled stand about. The result was to cast me into a lunchtime wilderness from which, several years later, I have never really emerged.” So, basically, everyone hates him and that’s why his assistant can’t get him a reservation and why his reservation-seeking emails bounce back (he worries “that this is because [he] shared it with uncool people”) and so he wrote this kind of unhinged diatribe about what it is to be unloved in New York. And what it is, you guys, is lonely.

It’s lonely in an existential way, really, because Wolff realizes that he is fading into obsolescence. He is a human pay phone. The kind that you worry might give you gonorrhea of the fingers if you pick it up. And so, whether or not his rant was intended to go viral (which many bloggers are saying that it most definitely was) it still betrays some really raw emotion that Wolff has about being old and irrelevant. You see, it’s not just the fact that he can’t get into restaurants that bothers him, it’s the fact that young people can. He knows some people are able to get in because that’s why those places are always so crowded. But these young people don’t even understand the incredibly complicated New York dining scene. They’re just getting in because they’re fucking their way to a table: “The cool have had sex with the personnel at appropriately hip establishments and so accommodation is made.”

How dare they! If, you know, they even are. Because maybe they’re not sleeping their way in, maybe the restaurants and bars that Wolff wants to get into would rather have young, attractive, and fun patrons than jerks like Wolff. I mean, the guy has serious issues with a whole group of people who probably barely even know he exists. Not satisfied just to write about this for the UK version of GQ, though, Wolff has also taken his anger with young people to Twitter, where he has called them (them!) “resentful” and “bitter” and accuses them of not being able to write. Young people, right? They’re the bitter ones. It’s always the people who have everything they want that are “bitter.” I guess, as a writer who is—as we all are—aging, I should feel some sympathy for Wolff as he faces the black hole of irrelevance, but I don’t really. Because it’s hard to find sympathy for someone who trades in on being an unmitigated asshole. It really is.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen


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