Similarly, I never went overboard with my meals, just because they were paid for. Of course I went to and most of the time taken to some of the finest restaurants in those illustrious cities and enjoyed them, but when left alone for an evening or two – a rare occurrence – I would either stay in the room and order myself a club sandwich, heaped with the fries and wash them down with a beer – something I have discovered the glitzy hotels are better at.  Or I remember once in Paris, I had such a craving for the Big Mac, and thank God, they had a McDonalds right off the Champs Élysées  inside one of the shopping alleys. Or be able to eat Klobasa and beer on Václavské náměstí in Prague. And  I loved Köfte with rice at our Turkish publisher Ali Karacan’s staff canteen. I would really be embarrassed to charge those meals, so that I just left those columns blank.

I am not saying I have been squeaky clean with what I put on my expense reports. But its not something I would ever consciously entertain.  What was for the many: what can I  get away with? for me it was what can I  justify? For example, I didn’t hesitate a bit to charge the company’s Air Travel Card to upgrade myself to the first class of which I wrote in my last week’s Strangers On The Plane. Didn’t Chantal say that the economy was all sold out?  Or while I would be on a business track and invited a friend or family for a meal, it was fair to include them – a  philosophy I had picked up from Charley McCarthy of Cadillac Printing in Chicago: If I end up working late most of the week, I have no qualms about taking my family out for a nice dinner over the weekend at company’s expenses.

When I was re-hired, along with the others, I had negotiated the first class travel for myself, and when Carolyn accompanied me to Barcelona, I promptly traded in my first class ticket for two economies. It worked out about the same, because in those days, there were not a million different fares. There was first class and then there was full fare economy with no restrictions. And then there was “excursion” fare, that came with restrictions on the minimum and the maximum stays. And there was no business class.

Actually, some of what I put on my expenses was a laughing stock  in the accounting department. Such as several pounds of Pixies – the locally made Fannie May’s most delicious chocolates containing walnuts and caramel wrapped inside milk chocolate in the shape of a turtle. They are orgasmic, is how one of my managers – Jean Freehill described them. And once tasted, all of my partners across the globe had gotten addicted to them. For $6.00 a pound, (it has since gone up to $ 24.99 a lb.).  I couldn’t have done better. And sometimes, I also brought along a few bottles of California wines as gifts. What was there to question?

When I was in doubt and ran into a situation of to be or not to be, I would run it by my boss. When I was fired from Playboy the first time, I lived in Europe and my then boss Lee Hall and I  agreed that the company would pay for my relocating back to the States. Since I was in no hurry to get back, I thought it might be fun to sail across the Atlantic instead of flying back.  I had figured out that even thought sailing back would cost much more, if I took my car with me and filled it up with some of my stuff, it would actually be cheaper for the company. I talked to Lee. I personally don’t care, as long as you can convince the personnel – if they question.  So I returned back to the States, unemployed, but in style, on the luxury liner, Queen Elizabeth II.

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