When I learned upgrade is better.

When I was a little kid, my mom would be driving Izzy, the 1972 Ford Pinto, and I would be seated in the back seat.  This was before Ford Pintos were recalled for spontaneously combusting.

We’d go past a mansion, often an embassy — I grew up near Washington, DC, and going past the embassy happened often.
“When I grow up, mommy,” I always said, “I want to live there.”
Not in an embassy — in a mansion.  To me, this was a no brainer.  Why not live with manicured lawns, corinthian columns, and a circular driveway with a fountain in the center?  Why live in a duplex?  (Incidentally, I think this bears mentioning:  Richie Rich was my FAVORITE cartoon.  Not Spider Man, not Batman, and NOT Superman — though I did like his outfit.)
Of course, I knew nothing about money.  I had no idea the duplex where my family lived in Rockville, MD, was actually really nice.  And, I had no concept that later, when we moved to a split-level outside of Silver Spring, that that house was a great place to grow up.  
I just knew I liked how a mansion LOOKED.
And, it didn’t stop there.  While other kids were gorging on Happy Meals, or going to Shakey’s Pizza for thier birthday, I was demanding…
La Gandola.
I could not make this up.  La Gandola was the swanky Italian joint (now that I think about it, a 50′ Italian restaurant in the true sense) in our neighborhood.  It had white table cloths, tapered candles, and glasses that were not plastic with “Coca-Cola” stamped on the front.  I’m pretty sure there was a picture of Elvis, and probably one of Jesus as well.  But tastefully done.
I loved it.  I was five.  I ordered meat lasagna with a Perrier.  It’s true.  I don’t order Perrier anymore because it gives me hic-ups, but I do love Pana water.  And, it’s perfect with Lasagna.
And, while other kids wanted to go to the play area at the mall — I wanted to visit Lord and Taylor and buy a new bow tie.  My first grade school picture?  I’m in a huge bow tie.  I insisted.  My mom could only comply.  Every day I’d wake up and ask, “when can we go get my bow tie?”
And, of course, when I was in college and everyone else was trying to buy a car — I bought a plane.  I already told this story, so I won’t repeat — but I could not afford a plane.  I still can’t afford a plane.  But I, somehow, bought one.  And paid cash.  How the hell did I swing that?
And, on my second trip out of the country — this a trip to Egypt with Matthew?  I got my first taste of first class on Air France.
On the way to Egypt, we were in the very back row by the rest rooms.  Not first class.  But, somehow, through the magic of the travel gods, when we gave our bording pass at Paris’ La Guardia for the trip home?  DOING DOING.  
I thought I’d been flagged for the Do Not Fly List.  Instead, the Dominatrix Airfrance flight attendant said, “Oui, Missioiur Gatty, you and Missioiur Frey have been ugraded.  Please use these seats.”
Do you know flight attendants for Air France all wear stiletto heels?  (At least the women and perhaps a few of the men.)
I had three windows between me and the seat infront of me.  THREE. I COUNTED.  My seat went down completely flat.  They served champaign.  And, a four course French meal.  There were little booties for your feet.  I was instantly hooked.
Now, I eat, sleep and breathe being able to finagle an upgrade.  Sometimes, I just pay full fare.  (You have to pay attention, often, if you consider baggage fees, it’s not that much more).  Othertimes, it is A LOT more, so I wait, and, pounce, like a cat on a mouse, when it’s time to check in and an upgrade is offered at a steep discount.  And?  Last resort?  Presents for the desk agent.  Anything works — travel alarm clocks picked up at conventions.  Trust me, they don’t care the thing says, “INVANTA” on the front.  That’s how the Air France upgrade happened.  We flew to Cairo on Christmas Day, and handed out holiday gift bags to everyone.   Flight attendants, gate agents, everyone.  In the gift bags were convention chochkis picked up over the course of the year.   I think someone took notice, and quietly upgraded our return trip home.
Of course, that’s not why we did it.
Now, I just have to figure out how to bribe a realtor into upgrading my house to that one on Embassy Row with the iron gate and guard hut.  Nothing says “WELCOME” like a guard hut.  ‘Cause, I’m all grown up now.  Time for an upgrade.  I TOLD mother someday I’d live there.
Plus, I haven’t forgotten about Honda Jet.  5 million.  Or, about $15,000 per month over 20 years.  There’s got to be a way!  How many convention alarm clocks is that?
I’ll figure it out.
Note:  tomorrow (or perhaps Weds) I’ll post the next saga of My Trabajo en Mexico.  Between the Policia Federales and Officina de Immagracion, it’s amazing I got out alive!