Please patronize me!

Yes, please go ahead and patronize me, I honestly do not object at all. I am guessing this makes me weird. I was talking to my shrink today about my life and at a certain point I mentioned that I had a friend with means who let me come swim in her pool from time to time…and my shrink’s mouth set in a disapproving little line and she said, “Oh but surely you realize she’s just patronizing you.”


Um, yes. And so what? If one has no resources than one requires a patron. It’s a long and time honored tradition and one that as far as I can tell is only looked down upon by Anglo-Saxons and A-S wannabes. Da Vinci had a patron, Michelangelo, every famous composer, artist, writer, artisan or whatever you can name had a patron at some point.


I am dirt poor and I have been flying in a private plane, been to the Mexican Riviera, been on cruise ships, gone to Space Camp, and Duke University, been to zoos and museums and far distant cities. I’ve gone rock climbing in Brevard, skiing in Vale and the more exclusive Snowmass, been to the LA, STL, AVL operas and symphonies, been to see live theater, had gym memberships, ridden on a Ducati turbo, worn luxury leathers, owned telescopes, carbon fiber bicycles, stayed in beach houses, been water skiing and sailing, been aboard submarines and tall ships, seen Mayan runes, swam with dolphins, and fished in private lakes. And swam in an Olympic sized private pool.


In most cases my patron or patroness was in fact patronizing me…they were playing King Copethua to my beggar maid, but in almost all those cases there was also some feelings of genuine affection and in a few even genuine respect. These people also all got something back in return, be it help with a project, a babysitter for the night, someone to watch their house for them, some free publicity, or a friend for life. In the few cases where my patron and I hated one another, fine, I still got to have my experience, they got their ounce of whatever and everyone was satisfied. Whatever their motive, kindness, pity, piety, pettiness or malice, they still felt good and got something out of the exchange and I still got to have experiences that I could only dream of if I turned down their offers or accepted them as “insults”.


So was my swim hostess patronizing me? Yes, absolutely. Out of affection or a need to bolster herself? Who knows or cares? I feel affection toward her and either way I think the chance to let me swim helped her almost as much as the swimming helped me. And no harm was done to anyone. In fact, I have tried to help her out in return. Still do.


Let’s go a step further, okay? My fiancee and my best friend are both musicians, although on different social tiers, but both of them have to raise money to do what they do and that means having a * gasp * “Patron”. Do they allow this to affect their sense of who they are or their basic worth? Not hardly. It lets them have the experiences that make them happy and further permits them to make a living doing what they like. And their patrons dujour get good music, a chance to look good in public, and a chance to give something back to the community. Win-win. Same deal for me as an author/playwright and my brother as a digital artist. Same for anyone making a living at anything although it is perhaps less obvious in some situations.


So why the tight lips and the sneers? Where did this strange idea that one should not accept needed help come from? I mean who decided that accepting generosity was a bad thing or that being closed to a new experiences was a good thing? Who decided that suffering was good and suffering in silence not just better but positively noble? Very strange concept, people, especially in our you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-scratch yours” society!


Oh, yeah, shrink lady, modern synonyms for patron – “boss”, “board”, “consortium”, “sponsor”, “manager” “the company” or even “Mom”.

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  1. What a delightfully true and rarely mentioned thought! Yes, absolutely – I have been patronized and have been totally fine with it. Whatever. You hit the nail on the head about experiences being way worth the supposed insult. Whatever, man.

    Thanks for dropping by our blog earlier!


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