Now that's rich
Who wants to marry a famillionaire?
by Kris Frieswick
When I was just out of college, my girlfriends and I used shorthand code to
describe the various men we dated. There were the usual suspects: the head, the
jock, the frat boy. There were the less obvious suspects: sophisticato,
slickster, wolf, leech. Then there was the most hated, most despised of them
all: the famillionaire.
The famillionaire (a mix of "familiar" and "millionaire") is a particularly
odious form of carbon matter who thinks that the only way to bed a woman is to
pretend to be really, really rich -- or at least to hang around with really,
really rich people and adopt their affectations. Famillionaires' success rates
can be pretty staggering until word gets around as to their true identity, at
which point they couldn't get laid in a whorehouse with a fistful of $100
Imagine my surprise to find out that my girlfriends and I weren't the only ones
to be duped by one of these noxious creatures. Indeed, it appears an entire
television network has fallen prey to the sweet song stylings of one Rick
Rockwell (formerly Richard Balkey of Pittsburgh), the alleged multimillionaire
who was married off on Fox's Who Wants To Marry a Multimillionaire?
show. I was one of the 22.8 million people who tuned in to see how things
turned out for our intrepid multimillionaire and his insta-bride. I was riveted
to the television set, witnessing a spectacle the likes of which we will,
apparently, never see again. I'm glad I was there. I experienced the same
feeling I got watching the Challenger explosion over and over and over
again for two straight days. I just couldn't believe what I was seeing.
Our famillionaire has since been exposed as a possible girlfriend-stomper who,
unless you think of two as "multi," is just a plain old garden-variety
millionaire, a title to which most of California's middle class could lay
claim. He was less than honest on the affidavit he signed attesting to his
purity of thought, moral righteousness, lack of venereal disease, and soundness
But famillionaires always have their own versions of the truth, as my
girlfriends and I could tell you. They kinda sorta tell the truth, right up to
the point when it is no longer advantageous to do so, and then they tell you a
truth that has been carefully pre-screened to create their desired persona.
It's quite a skill, and one that Mr. Rockwell has perfected.
If I learned (eventually) to screen out famillionaires, why couldn't
this vast network empire figure it out? Surely some woman on the Fox team would
have said to herself, "Hmmm, this guy reminds me a lot of that Roger creep I
dated when I was 25. Maybe we should call a few of his ex-girlfriends and make
sure he's not a famillionaire." You can be sure that a man conducted the
And, alas, Fox and poor Ms. Darva Conger fell victim to the same sort of games
men have been playing with women for centuries. One need look no further than
Shakespeare to find examples of men pretending to be something they're not in
order to get laid. It's nothing new; what's amazing is that, although the names
and clothing have changed, human motivation hasn't evolved one iota since the
days of the Black Plague.
Consider this: "Who wants to marry a multimillionaire?" is the dumbest question
ever asked. Everyone wants to marry a multimillionaire. Oh, sure, there
are other desirable traits one can look for in a mate, such as kindness,
intelligence, humor, similar taste in toilet paper, and so forth. But all other
things being equal, I daresay that most of us would rather marry rich. And
since intelligence, humor, respect, and toilet-paper similarities are as hard
to find as a diamond at the bottom of a swimming pool, there's only one thing
left that you can really aim your sights at, and that's wealth. It's big, it's
green, and if it's real, it's a damn fine place to start a relationship.
Unlike the flocks of seething feminists, indignant media critics, and
pissed-off-but-nice poor guys nationwide, I don't think that Who Wants To
Marry a Multimillionaire? was shameful at all, nor do I wish to indict the
women who took part. Come on! The show was brilliant in its portrayal of the
human condition. Women want to marry rich, and men want to marry young and
beautiful. It doesn't mean we will (only a lucky few ever get the option), but
that doesn't make the desire to do so any less real.
Once we understand this collective longing for money/babes, we can see why the
famillionaire shtick has been such a phenomenal success through the decades. It
works, plain and simple. Chicks, present company included, are wildly attracted
to men with gobs of money. We like it when men pay for large, expensive gifts.
We like being whisked off on fabulous vacations. Money is power, and power
means security, and security means you don't have to worry about how to pay for
groceries, or the rent, or gas, which costs double what it did last winter. Who
doesn't want that? Is this a horrible, materialistic side of our nature? Yup.
But from a purely evolutionary standpoint -- at our most basic, prehistoric
level -- it is what it's supposed to be. It's about survival of the species,
and he with the most toys almost always wins the girl of his choice. Which
should have been the first gigantic clue that Rick Rockwell was not what he
appeared to be: there is no way a real, nonviolent multimillionaire would have
had to go on national TV to find a wife. All he'd have had to do is go
In this way, Who Wants To Marry a Multimillionaire? was,
unintentionally, a perfect representation of what it's like to be out there
dating, mating, and attempting to find the perfect spouse. Along with a bunch
of other highly qualified people, you throw your hat into the ring for the
attentions of some person whom you have deemed highly worthy, according to some
set of personal criteria. You answer a bunch of dumb questions about your
dreams and goals, what you wanted to be when you were a kid, your favorite
color; you prance around in scanty clothes; and maybe, just maybe, you
embellish your own story a teensy bit.
Then he or she picks you out of the crowd. You hook up. One day, you find out
that your beloved is a lying sack of shit, or has a nasty temper, or is
absolutely unbearable regardless of [fill in previously important personal
criterion here]. You dump your beloved's ass and go back home to your mother.
The sack of shit hooks up with someone else a week later. Repeat. Sound at all
Welcome to real life. And Fox figured out a way to condense it into two hours
and a cruise. They should get an Emmy.
Kris Frieswick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.