Buying Happiness

The waiter seemed a little offended about the flowers of the Pyrenees, so I over-tipped him. That made him happy. It felt comfortable to be in a country where it is so simple to make people happy. … Everything is on such a clear financial basis in France. It is the simplest country to live in. No one makes things complicated by becoming your friend for any obscure reason. If you want people to like you, you only have to spend a little money. I spent a little money and the waiter liked me. … He would be glad to see me back. I would dine there again some time and he would be glad to see me, and could want me at his table. It would be a sincere liking because it would have a sound basis. 

The Sun Also Rises p. 233

Until the money ran out, which means there is no sound basis, which means there is no sincere liking. Jake is wrong, and his own ability to buy his way into someone’s temporary good graces blinds him to what is really going on. But that’s what wealth can do: blind it’s slave to the larger realities, fool us into thinking we’re in charge and well-liked, and that life really is that simple. But it’s a mirage. Money can’t buy love or true friendship. The waiter “liked” Jake only for what he hoped to get out of him: another big tip from another wealthy American. 

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