Did Chad Ochocinco really receive a free car from Audi while visiting Spain, as he recently asserted via Twitter?
On one hand, it's tempting to be skeptical. After all, his claim involves, well, Chad Ochocinco. And also Twitter. Which is sort of like Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the former Iraqi Information minister, writing an op-ed piece for the Weekly World News.
On the other hand, I'm inclined to believe him. Because if there's one thing the mandatory cursory study of celebrity that comes with being a living, breathing, sentient American has taught me, it's that the best part of being famous and rich enough to afford super-nice stuff is that ... you generally don't have to pay for said stuff.
You get it gratis.
Here's how the world works: You scratch and claw and outhustle the other guy -- that, or you befriend Paris Hilton and release a tepid sex tape -- in order to reach the mountain top. A mountain made of cash. Only guess what?
There's no need to spend any of it.
Random strangers buy you drinks. Restaurants give you free meals. Night clubs pay you to show up. Sponsors ply you with products. Designers ply you with sweet clothes. Self-congratulatory awards shows ply you with incredible, goodie-stuffed gift bags. EA Sports sends you an early copy of "Madden." Agents take care of the hotel room you just trashed. Gofers ensure that your dressing room/set trailer is straight. (No brown M&M's!) Somebody somewhere -- another agent, a cigar-chomping rich guy enthralled by your mere presence or a lobbyist -- pays for your exclusive round of golf.
To put things another way: Ordinary people -- that is, ordinary people who can score a ticket to Oprah -- have to sit and wait and pray for a free ride, then figure out if they can afford the taxes on the darn thing. But Chad Ochocinco? He goes to a country where American football probably is less popular than beer pong and still scores a courtesy luxury car.
The moral, as always: The rich are different than you and me. And not just because they have more money.