We live in a time when a mere one hundred dollars is very precious, indeed. Some of us consider long and hard just how we'll spend it. Food? Rent? Gasoline?
There is a group of fortunate people who don't have to worry about such trivial things. In fact, gasoline is what enables them to come to the United States and spend spend spend more than just that precious one hundred dollars. They spend thousands of dollars on shoes and toiletries and undergarments, each and every day. The clerks in the high-end boutiques must be slobbering the moment they see those women walking down the street...while their limousines slowly follow them.
They are the Saudi women.
In a country where they are considered low class, where they have to cover up completely when they go out in public, where they absolutely cannot be seen in public in the company of a man who isn't a family member, they find escape in the United States. Here, they can go without the covering, they can wear whatever they please (the younger generation takes full advantage of that), and spend until there is nothing left to buy. Some of the young girls are so spoiled and demanding that I wanted to slap them.
Sadly, they can't buy freedom, which we have in vast amounts. Sure, we may be struggling with money, we may dream of dropping thousands of dollars on frivolous items. Hell, we can't even afford gasoline for our vehicles. But we have something those women do not have: Freedom. And how sweet it is.
'Driving the Saudis', written by Jayne Amelia Larson, gives us a peek inside the world of the Saudi women when they visit the United States; namely, Beverly Hills, California, land of sunshine, relaxation, and Rodeo Drive. Jayne was a struggling actress, and to make ends meet, she was hired to be a personal chauffeur for them. She'd heard tales of the Saudi's generous tips, so she spent weeks driving them, being at their beck-and-call at all hours of the day and night. When the women arrived with forty servants and millions in cash, Jayne soon realized that she got more than she bargained for. When she writes about her adventures driving the hairdresser, I wanted to slap him, too.
Occupying four luxury hotels, the family's opulent lifestyle afforded them huge shopping sprees. The only female driver, Jayne soon became a confidant to a few of the servants. She also gives us a startling insight into the habits and eccentricities of the younger royal females: the forced marriages, the luxury to slap hundred-dollar bills down on the counter of a grocery store...and not go back for the change. We are given a peek at one of the few royal women that earned my regard; I felt her despair at the thought of marrying a man she didn't love (and if that wasn't bad enough, he was old), when all she really wanted to do was stay in the United States to attend college.
The stories are bizarre, the contradictions and prejudices are many. It's a tale for our time; how massive amounts of wealth can corrupt and spoil us. But, most of all, it's about what we would do for money.
When I fill my gas tank now, I consider that lifestyle. I remember the shopping sprees that Jayne has so vividly described.
And then I decide that the next car I buy will be an electric one.
Driving the Saudis will be released in October 2012 by the Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster