Perhaps the most striking thing about the whole thing was that it wasn’t all that remarkable: another Tuesday. Another billionaire paying to catapult himself into space.
But the sight of Jeff Bezos, in his beige cowboy hat and blue spacesuit (with a custom Omega Speedmaster over the sleeve as if he were Buzz Aldrin), giving astronauts high-fives and then awakening deeply to the experience afterward, resonated in a way. that Sir Richard Branson’s wild ride didn’t.
It took Amazon just 27 years to become a $1.8 trillion company. Depending on the fluctuations of the stock market, Mr. Bezos is either the richest or the second richest man in the world. Yet he has become this without attaining a commensurate mystique.
He has not, like Tesla’s chief executive, Elon Musk, hosted “Saturday Night Live” and has managed to do a surprisingly good job. He hasn’t shown Americans the power of a minimalist fake neck like Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs. He didn’t, like Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, spend a pandemic quarantine with Jay-Z.
All those guys stir up enmity, especially Mr. Musk and (even posthumously) Mr. Jobs. But the lines for their products reveal the emotional connection people have with them. They invented FOMO. Mr. Bezos just played on it and embodies it.
We watched him go to the gym, get biceps and buy motorcycle jackets. The problem was never the fit. It was that they seemed to achieve the opposite of their intended goal, which was to telegraph the chicness of indifference.
We read about the end of his marriage to MacKenzie Scott, a novelist turned megaphilanthropist, and the beginning of his romance with Lauren Sanchez, a former correspondent of the tabloid entertainment show “Extra!”
It seemed like a cliché.
We craved the intimate text messages he sent her.
They were just so wacky, like he’d consulted Siri for sexting advice.
We looked at the photos of his $96 million four-story real estate investment in the Flatiron district.
It seemed soulless, like something Marriott would design if it built its version of an André Balazs hotel.
But by being worth about $200 billion and having few people likely to tell him the truth about, say, what he looks like in a cowboy hat riding his phallic rocket, he’s become the Dorian Gray of dorkiness, a locus classicus and fun-house mirror through which a significant contingent of mostly white males, approaching middle age and not possessing Ryan Gosling’s looks, should see ourselves, if we become honest enough to admit the mistakes of spending of our path to deplorable stylistic choices.
Mr. Bezos’ name has an onomatopoeia.
A dentist with a Lamborghini is a Bezos. That includes anyone in commercial real estate who, just embarking on their first extramarital affair, starts shaving parts of themselves that shouldn’t be shaved.
I turned into a Bezos the day I decided to try pulling out a fanny pack and bootleg Dior shorts.
Pretending to be an oenophile makes a Bezos out of many a man. So is the decision that it is not enough to run a financial services provider; that what you really need is a side job on the weekends as a tropical house and EDM DJ
Returning from your first trip to Burning Man at the age of 50, you are entering perilously close to Bezos territory.
If you’ve made efforts to book a singer like Jennifer Lopez, Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Patti LaBelle, or Christina Aguilera for your wedding, birthday party, or religious children’s gathering, you’re a Bezos.
Bezoses are rich rather than poor, but using Affirm at checkout has helped many less fortunate types reach Bezosdom.
It’s hard, but not impossible, for a movie star to be a Bezos.
Mark Wahlberg, sporting a diamond-encrusted Patek Phillipe sports watch that would be a joke in a Paul Thomas Anderson movie starring Mark Wahlberg, is definitely a Bezos. So does Ben Affleck when he takes his shirt off, and we can see the huge phoenix he had permanently etched onto his back.
Bezoses wants to believe that the time spent on Pelotons over the past year is enough to order a Speedo through Amazon. Or that with a few good years left before our knees, we could still go skateboarding or fly off in a rocket ship and become a Butch Cassidy for the sky, with a matching hat (and boots).
Here’s the problem: Butch Cassidy became Butch Cassidy by stealing. A Bezos compensates with a credit card.
Shortly after descending to Earth, Mr. Bezos at a press conference where he said, “I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer for paying for all this. Serious.”
It was a curious confession from a man whose subordinates are protesting their working conditions and meager delivery salaries. But what did everyone expect from a space cowboy in blue satin? He is the world’s largest Bezos.