Recession Special

Visiting South Beach when you're broke is like being left out of the world's greatest party. There's a financial slump, but it seems the Cristal-spraying, condo-living, Ferrari-squealing set still hasn't gotten the memo. It's like one big Lil Wayne video — and we're sick of being the dolly grip.

So Riptide decided to join the gliteratti for an afternoon — or at least act like we belonged until security was called. A condo development under construction on Ocean Drive, to be called South of Fifth, is offering something like a recession special: Buy one beachfront apartment for $6 million-plus, get a $260,000 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder free.

We called the place's broker, Sildy Cervera, and scheduled a tour. It was time to see how the other two percent lives.



First, some personal background: We drive a dented Toyota Corolla that looks like it was attacked by a gang of homeless men and diarrheic seagulls, and our girlfriend cuts our hair. Appearing obscenely wealthy was going to take some work.

After a few hours of people-watching at Sushi Samba, we showed up outside South of Fifth with the following guidelines for staying in character: Keep designer shades on face, no matter how dimly lit the environment. Smack gum obnoxiously. Complain about the view. Obsess over trivial throw-ins: Is TiVo included? Ask about accommodations for our two snow-white Sharpeis. And yawn frequently.

When Cervera greeted us — a spandex-pantsed blonde jumping out of a $90,000 Mercedes — she seemed a bit suspicious. "I don't yet know what you do," she said, "but I guarantee I will by the time the tour is over. I'm going to pump you for all sorts of information!"

Apparently our preparation paid off. She showed us five units, sprawling 3,000-plus-square-foot pads with rooftop pools, butler quarters, and unobstructed views of the Atlantic that we had to channel our inner Brando to yawn at.

We learned rich people are strange. Case in point: Every bathroom has his-and-her toilets facing each other, as if for some ghastly duel. Astoundingly, Riptide had to bring up the free Lamborghini — turns out the quarter-million-dollar toy in this Crackerjack box is simply an afterthought.

As the tour wrapped up, we offered our thoughts: The place might be a little too extravagant.

"But it's quaint!" Cervera protested in all seriousness.

Still, props go to the amazingly patient broker for not booting us the moment we expressed confusion about the bathroom's bidet.

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