INSIGHTS

A Christmas message from a convert to the Dallas lifestyle

Materialism – the doctrine that comfort, pleasure and wealth are the only or highest goals or values.



ONLY NOW CAN we begin to see what we have been building. Downtown is different. Buildings whose names we aren’t sure of are everywhere. It’s as though we can see ourselves in the reflection in the glass, even from this far away. On a bright fall day with the blue sky providing just the right contrast, the skyline of Dallas looks unreal, more like the background for a space-age movie. Any moment now George Jetson will come flying out of the ball at the top of the Hyatt Regency en route to the family satellite out near Piano or Wylie.

The freeways are crowded. Such is the price we must pay for progress. But the cars are mostly new and they don’t break down in the center lane. In them we tune in to the easy listening of Dallas radio and read the billboards of progress. Now’s the time to reflect on the lifestyle we have developed to complement our skyline. At night the setting is all the more striking. Whatever happened to the Flying Red Horse? Wasn’t that once the emblem of Dallas?

We are so proud of what we have built here. We may not have personally built it ourselves. We didn’t work on the construction sites. But we drove by every day en route to our glass and concrete offices and by watching the process became part of it.

The traffic is a little worse this time of year. Already the crowds are flocking to the shopping centers that form the termini of our freeway system. No matter what goes on in the rest of the world, Dallas seems unaffected. World War III could break out on December 23 and NorthPark would probably still be crowded. Business always booms, and for us recession is a matter of degree. With the low rate of unemployment, everybody has money to spend. We are all caught up in this gigantic shopping spree that never seems to end.

The goods we buy have designer names. An off-the-rack shirt or blouse is not for us. Hit the exclusive shops and find those special buys with labels that indicate we found the best. At lunch we are able to find a nice, out-of-the-way, vaguely French restaurant where we have a soup and salad before getting the exquisite cold plate. This is a great way to keep up with our chums from other days and other places and to meet their new dates. For dinner, we must try this new place on McKinney. Everyone says it is so divine.

To drive there we have a fleet of the fanciest cars you can imagine. Did you see that Rolls the other day on Hillcrest? That’s the third Rolls I’ve seen in University Park alone. Surely that’s a record for a town the size of University Park. Mothers lined up to gather the brood at elementary or middle school take special care not to dent the Mercedes, the BMWs, the Jags. Some wild fellow driving a pickup might as well be George Jetson himself, so out of place is he. Why isn’t he downtown working anyway?

On Sundays, when we take a perfunctory visit to the church of our choice, we are glad that old-time religion is a thing of the past. Gone is that foreboding fear of fundamental sin that used to hang over us from the time we left home for church until we returned. In its place is a kind of political awareness. All these people are correctly conservative, don’t you know, and they are no threat to us. All’s right with the world, not so much because God’s in his temple, but because Ronald Reagan’s in the White House.

We eschew the criticism from outsiders who question our values. There are simple answers to that kind of talk. Don’t look at the seamier side. Keep your eyes on the road. Don’t go to that section of town. We are undertaking what no city since Rome has done and we can’t be distracted by naysayers. The Utopia is a building and we are doing it with cement, glass, designer’s clothes, Cadillacs and conservative religion . . . er, politics.

No longer are we sending our kids off to schools in Waco, Denton and Commerce. We now shoot for Duke, Stanford and Princeton. Don’t tell anyone, dear, that your grandfather didn’t finish high school. They wouldn’t understand. Tell them your mother was in a sorority at Texas before she dropped out to marry your father. She did help him through law school.

As important as the mind and the spirit are, we must remember to keep our bodies in good shape. We play tennis at least nine months of the year here. The rest of the time we can play racquetball at the club. Thank goodness we didn’t have to buy membership in a country club here. The subdivision has a nine-hole golf course and that’s all you need, really. Belonging to the spa has been a big help, too. It so helps to take your mind off all the troubles in the world. We’ve just about stopped watching the news, you know. All they want to talk about is doom and gloom. You can thank your lucky stars that you live here in Dallas and not in some of those northern cities.

Next weekend we are going to New Orleans. Remember Sally and Rick? They live in Birmingham now, and we are going to meet them in New Orleans. We’re all going to Commander’s Palace for lunch on Saturday. The rest of the time we’re just going to bum around. We’re not making a big trip out of this, though, because at Christmas a bunch of us are going to Cancun. You can get a direct flight down there now. Did you know that? My, the wonders of modern technology.

That means we are going to have to get some of our Christmas shopping done early. Don’t tell anybody. It’s going to be a big surprise. I’ve got a new fur coat picked out for Mary Jo and I’m going to give it to her in Cancun. Won’t that be a shocker to her? She can wear it over her bathing suit. We’re going to take home movies and that will make a wonderful film to show when the weather gets cold here.

I’m sorry to tell you this, Henry, but Iwon’t be able to make the meeting of theBig Brothers on Saturday. I’m just toobusy, you know. I don’t know where thetime goes. I’ve been thinking of pulling outof that organization anyway. I’m afraidone of those kids is going to rob me orsomething. But don’t tell anybody that’sthe reason. Just tell them I’m too busy.They’ll understand. But we’re still playingpoker Thursday night at Jim’s. He’s got ahot tub now, and we are going to take adip in it before the game. And, boy, do 1need it.

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