The Biltmore Palace
After coming down out of the Tennessee mountains, Lena and I stopped off at the Biltmore Estate and visited the palace and grounds. Huge and grand and opulent beyond reason, the home is created entirely to impress visitors with the wealth of its owners, which it does well.
This creates an interesting tension with the (recorded) tour guides who attempt to superimpose some semblance of likability and humanity onto George Vanderbilt—and the aggressively ostentatious nature of the palace itself. Despite all their assurances of the importance that George placed on hearth and family, you definitely get the idea that these things were only the most important after you’d eliminated everything having to do with money and showing off.
But nobody’s perfect. I still cry every time Sebastian sings Kiss the Girl. He’s just trying so hard to make Ariel happy.
We did enjoy the trip. It is honestly amusing to me to see the things that become important to people who think a dining room must be seventy feet high. An inordinate amount of attention seemed to be given over to managing the lives of the staff, because once you’ve wallpapered your bedroom in 24-carat gold, what is left for a Titan of Industry to do other than time the arrival of your footman to the nearest second when he brings the morning coffee?
Out of the palace, we visited the farm animals and Lena ate a scoop of some very good estate-made ice cream. We missed the gardens, which I’d wanted to see, but even still I don’t think we’ll go back. It was cool, and no mistake, but the whole thing left me with a vague distaste in people for whom inhuman levels of wealth have become defining traits. On the whole it seemed—tacky. Like a gilt amusement park for old white people who thought The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ride was too exciting.
Speaking of Disney, I just know Halle Bailey is going to be amazing in the new Little Mermaid movie. And I bet that damn crab makes me cry again, too.
Kevin Pettway is the author of the more-than-likely-to-be-bestselling Misplaced Mercenaries series. The first book, A Good Running Away, will officially release on January 9, 2020. If you would like to join the Misplaced Army and receive articles like the above, news about upcoming releases, and info on contests and giveaways, hit the link here. If you’d like to preorder the ebook, click here, and if you’d prefer a physical copy, click this one.
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