My father in law Frank, in the 21 years I knew him before he died, passed on a lot of wisdom to me. He told me never to let my daughter marry someone who didn’t look at her the way I look at my wife. He told me not to criticize my children’s choices in fashion, music, or relationships, even after they’d changed their minds. He had been in World War II and Korea, across Europe and Asia, married the love of his life and had a beautiful family of his own.
Most of the stuff he told me was bullshit, though. He had this theory that if you looked too hard to the right while you were driving your car, you would pull your steering wheel that direction and crash. He favored never using a turn signal so as not to “give away his position.” He added a possessive “S” to the end of every grocery store name, called hydrangeas “hygeraniums,” and sometimes still used the words J*p and g**k when referring to Japanese and Korean people.
Still, it’s hard to know that one of the most annoying things he believed was something he had in common with Donald Trump: Rich people get/stay rich by not spending money.
Frank applied that to real life by not tipping, putting his trash in the neighbor’s trashcan the night before pickup, and eating grapes straight from the bin in the store without compunction. Donald has done it by refusing to pay contractors, forcing employees into non-disclosure agreements and wives into prenuptial agreements, and frankly, just settling for something less when he could be paying for more. His tastes are gaudy, for sure, but when it comes to anything or anyone he can just fake it with, that’s the route he takes.
And as much as it irritated me that Frank would buy expensive bait for his fishing trips but be happy with off-brand food and Costco shoes he had to buy every 8 months, I bet Donald’s cheapness bothered the hell out of his family and wives much worse.
In fact, let me give you an example with another “Frank” that Donald himself dealt with: Old Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra.
Sinatra was slated to perform at the grand opening of Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino in Atlantic City, and the guy with whom his manager had set up a number of dates to perform died in a helicopter crash — so Trump stepped in to negotiate Sinatra’s rates himself.
Sinatra’s manager, Elliot Weisman, recounts the tale of his encounter with Trump in his book The Way It Was. He says that Trump told him the rate the singer was asking for the 12 dates he was scheduled to perform was “a little rich,” and the jokes just write themselves on that one.
But dutifully, Weisman returned the news to his client and also told him how Trump had decided on the spot to also un-book Sammy Davis Jr. and the megastar duo Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, saying everyone was asking too much money. Presumably, Donald found some second-rate act that didn’t hurt his pocketbook so much.
What Frank told Elliot over the phone that day has become the stuff of legend, mostly because we all wish we could say the same: Either you tell Trump to “go fuck himself” or to give Frank his phone number so he could do it himself. And what a choice! Given the opportunity, I think most of us would like to have done it ourselves, but Weisman was clever enough to have it both ways:
Sinatra says go fuck yourself!”
I think I may have heard my father in law tell people that once or twice too.
Featured image via screen capture
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