She stands next to her knotty-pine podium, a woman in her early 40s wearing a tight gold sequined dress. Her high heels are gold too, and she wears her jet black hair in a Jackie O. do. She says she's our fairy godmother.
"Cinderella is the perfect role model," says Ginie Polo Sayles in a Scarlett O'Hara lilt. "She crashed a ball to go after the man she wanted. I'm here to say 'I'm your fairy godmother, bibbidi-bobbidi-boo. Yes, you can go to the ball.'"
There are 12 of us here taking in this stop on her lecture tour at the Discovery Center. Only four men. It's called How to Marry the Rich. Oddly enough, she has a book by the same title. She has another book called How to Win Pageants displayed on the table behind her. She has videotapes too.
Cinderella was a mercenary and we can be too. That's Polo's word for gold digger. She's proud to call herself one. "But Cinderella couldn't even get in the door if she didn't look like she belonged there. You can go to the ball, but first you have to make some changes."
Our problem is we don't approach the world on the "emotional plane of the rich." We don't have enough self-esteem to go after the very best. She knows how it is. She used to be the same way, back when she was little Ginie Polo growing up in a working-class home in Big Springs, Texas. You could tell what night it was by what was for dinner. Tuesday was red beans night.
But then some fried shrimp changed her whole self-concept. A little rich girl invited Ginie to her daddy's country club. And at lunchtime the little girl said, "Let's go charge some fried shrimp to my daddy."
"Fried shrimp?" said Ginie Polo, batting her eyes like an innocent southern belle. "What's fried shrimp?"
Today she could own a fleet of shrimp boats if she wanted to, and a crew of private fry cooks. She's married to Reed Sayles, millionaire. A descendant of the founders of Abilene, Texas, he's at least 20 years her senior.
Her problem was that until the shrimp she had never considered the possibilities beyond red beans. That's our problem too. So the first change we should make is to follow the advice of Aristotle Onassis. If you want to meet the rich, live where the rich live.
"Even if it's in an attic," she says. "I want you to think of your mind, your body, everything about you, as hot, steaming water. And the neighborhood of the rich is an exotic tea bag!" She closes her eyes and embraces herself, as if she's being slowly immersed in hot springs. "Once you move into the neighborhood of the rich, you move it into you. It steeps in you, like the tea bag, and all the properties of the tea bag become the properties of the water."
We might need to change our religion too. Ginie Sayles says most of the rich are Episcopalians or Jews. So you choose one--"Or you can go to both." That sounds like the right idea. If you strike out on Saturday cruising synagogues, there's always Sunday.
We might want to change jobs, too. That's what she did. She realized being a teacher was a dead-end job for mercenaries, so she became a hostess in a posh restaurant. She went to work as a temp too, but only in posh offices.
Now I'm starting to think like a mercenary! Maybe I could become a gynecologist for the rich!
And we shouldn't feel daunted, she reassures us. There are certain types of rich people who have a fetish for those who aren't. If we're real lucky we might snag an "outcast RM" (rich mate). Outcast RMs have never been accepted by their families and are bitter and vengeful toward them. They could bring us home and scare the hell out of the folks. "He'll say, 'I'll get you! Now look who's going to share your name!' He'll marry the call girl, the stripper," Ginie Sayles says.
We can find swarms of RMs if we just know where to look. We can get all decked out and hang around a Mercedes dealership, pretending like we can afford one. We can nonchalantly crash a party or charity function. We can hang around regattas or golf courses. Golfers are especially good marks, she says, because by the time they get to the clubhouse they're really blasted.
A way to find rich widows is to scan the obituaries. Sayles used to think this was kind of sick too, until she worked at E.F. Hutton. "They used to have us cold call the day of the obituary and offer to be that person's financial adviser. One man made an absolute fortune off of obituaries."
And of course every wealthy person's chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous has "a few hundred-proof millionaires in need of nurturing and a new life. So if you want to volunteer to help people dry out, it might as well be in an exclusive dry-out center, a fat farm, or AA. Remember Larry Fortensky."
Does checking into a dry-out tank and ending up as Elizabeth Taylor's husband du jour make him the ultimate mercenary? Cinderella and Larry Fortensky, there's two great role models.