Since it would appear that David will be out of commission for a day or two, I have forcibly forecefully volunteered to fill in for him. And I must say, I read yesterdays tete-a-tete with great interest, and upon reading and reflecting upon it with a fine cognac and a cigar, I must come to one conclusion.
You are all, to use one of David’s favorite phrases of yesterday, IDIOTs.

Everybody knows that real men fly supersonic.

I will grant that I rather enjoyed David’s discussion of Station-wagon Utility Vehicles. Indeed, the typical SUV does look like an engineer took the body of a station wagon, put it on a truck frame, and put big tires on it. Very clever. Very observant. Obviously he must not have thought of it himself.

But before I extol the virtues of air travel, I must point something out to the SUV-defenders here. By the time you buy your status-symbol SUV and pay for the insurance and the fuel for them, you could have had yourself a Mercedes. And the Mercedes would be worth more by the time you finish paying for it. But the really big plus is that rather than looking like someone trying to act wealthy, a Mercedes actually makes you look wealthy.

Some of you touched upon the hatred that often gets directed towards SUV owners. Yes, a certain segment of the middle class is learning about conspicuous consumption, and I applaud them. The upside to conspicuous consumption is that it gets you noticed. The downside to conspicuous consumption is that some people, such as my brother, have yet to learn how to appreciate it.

That is another advantage to a Mercedes. Since people see fewer of them, there is less hatred directed at them. The true upper crust learn how to conspicuously consume without drawing as much hatred as everyone else. I, of course, am a master at this, as I have so aptly demonstrated on these pages in the past. I am also quite humble.

Since some people are not born wealthy, they must learn how to create wealth. Buying a Mercedes instead of a four-wheel-drive station wagon is a good start. If you continue to spend your money wisely, by the time you finish paying for that Mercedes, you might be ready to graduate to a Rolls.

Now, of course, it is time for me to talk about flying. Some of us lead very hectic lives, and driving entry-level vehicles like David insists on doing is just impossible. On a typical day, I get up at the early hour of 10 a.m. You will find me unlike that sloth Raunche, who sleeps until 10:30. I have breakfast in bed, and then, while one of my servants bathes me, I usually take the time to smoke a cigar and read a newspaper or magazine. Usually there is no time to drive–most people worth keeping appointments with live too far away to make a 12:00 appointment by car. That is why a Tu-144 comes in most handy. Now, some people say that using an airliner designed to carry 170 people is wasteful for one person. What they forget is that when I travel, I do not travel alone. Besides my pilot and co-pilot, I also have a stewardess, a hairdresser, and a chef, just in case I decide I need a mid-morning snack. I find that when I travel with such a large group of people, a plane designed to carry 170 commoners gives me just enough space to myself.

Unfortunately, most people worth keeping a noon appointment with do not live anywhere near an airport. But some of them do not yet have a landing strip, or their landing strip is inadequate for a supersonic passenger liner. For that reason, I am usually in the habit of clearing an Interstate. Most Interstates make excellent runways for a plane such as the Tu-144. Some people complain about the inconvenience, but what about my convenience? Is that not important? We have had a few incidents where a vehicle or two was damaged, but the drivers of those vehicles should know to get out of the way. I like flying, and my tax dollars pay for those Interstates too. Besides, flying is so much safer than driving. More people should do it. Some people complain about the fuel involved, but really, what is more valuable? That fuel, or your time? I can always find more jet fuel. If I found more time somehow, my busy schedule would quickly expand to fill it.

And I can never have too much safety. If my safety puts other people at risk, they just need to make more money so they can keep up with me. Or they need to learn how to spend the money they do have. A helicopter costs much less to buy and operate than my Tu-144, and although it only has a fraction of its speed and its quarters is very tight, it does have the advantage of being able to land just about anywhere. I am no danger and no inconvenience to someone in a helicopter. More of the middle class should give helicopters serious thought.

For those who can afford it, I highly recommend the Tu-144. Unfortunately, there are very few of them left, and I have the last one that was still airworthy. With some refurbishment, however, there are a small number of them that could be made airworthy again, and they could save countless other people lots of time. Do not worry yourself with the noise or the pollution. People get used to it. Trust me. I know from experience.

The Tu-144 is conspicuous consumption at its finest. It is so uncommon, people cannot help but notice. And marvel.