A few months ago, my husband and I visited an acquaintance who owned thirty cut glass decanters, each one artfully arranged on his dining room buffet. Though he prepared an exquisite meal for us, we were unable to enjoy it in the dining room, as the table was piled a foot high with fine linens and coffee table books on Italian Renaissance architecture.
We were able to carve out space at the kitchen counter, though just barely, as hundreds of never-read cookbooks surrounded us in every nook and cranny. I would have gladly chosen to relieve him of a few, but, alas, I was not asked to. There was nary a horizontal surface in the entire house that was not turned into a spectacular tableau of china, sculpture, vases, and books.
What was driving the insatiable desire of this lovely and erudite man to own the finest of everything?