Yesterday’s essay in the back of the Times Magazine, by Daniel Handler, a.k.a. Lemony Snicket, could leave less-than-prosperous readers apoplectic. Handler opens with a bang (“Let’s start by saying I have a lot of money”) and proceeds to relate a terribly humbling episode wherein an acquaintance tapped him for $5 million to preserve a historic house. The inability to cut the check on the spot plunged the Snicket scribe into a funk: “People know I have a lot of money — there’s no way to hide it … But still, I don’t have all the money.”
Handler is genuinely trying to be self-effacing, but, boy, is it coming out all wrong. So what sent Handler on this self-reassessing jag in the first place? A Website, it turns out, that he and his wife “have recently become obsessed with … you plug in the amount of money you made in a year and find out where you stand.” The site, which goes unnamed in the essay, is Global Rich List. (If you’re making $25,000 a year, incidentally, you’re already in the top 10th percentile.) The site’s creators wanted to make people realize how rich they are so that maybe they’d give some of their wealth to charity. Funny, it just made us want to download the next Lemony Snicket movie from BitTorrent.