The waiting room in the community mental health center of Gary, Ind. features the accessories common to places where poor people go for treatment: a sign instructing all to register with the security guard; a row of art-therapy paintings hanging crooked which nobody ever bothers to straighten; patients from the residential program shuffling aimlessly, muttering; out-patients slumping in worn chairs, waiting for their appointed sessions with overworked therapists and harried social workers.
It’s not the kind of place one expects to find a copy of the glossy, couture fashion magazine “W.”
It looked obscene lying there all shiny on a scuffed table, with a cover picture of blond actress January Jones in a designer bathing suit, now surrounded by the overweight poor, the hopeless poor, the self-destructive poor and the needy poor.
This particular issue was devoted to DESIGN NOW – “The World’s Richest Man Builds a Museum” and “At Home with Fashion Darling Alexander Wang.” None of the waiting clients, clad in worn items from thrift-store dollar bins, seemed interested enough in the magazine’s self-proclaimed World of Style to pick it up and thumb through it.
They missed the diamond-necklace ad from Cartier with the tagline, “All about you forever.” They didn’t see fashion designer Hubert de Givenchy posing in his palatial Paris apartment while talking about “that moment in life where all you want is a simple room with two or three things in it.” This was right when he auctioned off $20 million of antiques from his collection.
I can imagine the reaction from those in the waiting room: “Uh-huh, I know jus’ what the man mean, I got so much shit layin’ around, me and the kids and the grandbabies can’t hardly move ‘thout trippin’ over it.”
Page after expensively produced page showed must-haves such as a bracelet of 18k gold, black jade, pearls and diamonds for $48,500 , a dress for $3,025 or a darling little clutch for $2,000.
Whoever brought that magazine into the community mental health center had ripped off the part of the cover containing the address label, probably to protect her privacy. It’s doubtful she gave any thought to the cruelty of leaving that celebration of wretched excess among the merely wretched.