Thursday, January 19, 2006

Basket case

Men don't like women who talk like truck drivers. Then again, neither do women. No sir, they do not. I suppose it's understandable: Primness is always in fashion. Which explains why I've made a practical career out of offending people. (Proudly troublesome for nearly a decade!) It's not that I go out of my way to raise eyebrows, it's just that, well, I have a dirty mouth I enjoy keeping comfortably unsanitized. Cursing is a form of punctuation for me, a buffer between strategic pauses and eventual punchlines. Adults aren't being endangered, so I see no reason to censor myself for their sakes when I'm entertaining friends. It's not like I'm next in line as the Archbishop of Wonderbread, so why the pressure to Eliza Doolittle me in every situation?

NorIda, HaiPhia, and I were having a conversation about who-knows-what and what-did-who on our way back from class this evening. They told stories about fish and boyfriends, I talked about a woman who stabs (slices?) her vagina with a shard of glass and smears the blood all over her mouth in a scene from Ingmar Bergman's "Cries and Whispers" and that time my grandma chased after the chicken she had just beheaded as it continued running in circles and laying eggs in our basement.

You know, small talk.

Now as the bus approached the main campus, the driver suddenly breaked, sending students jerking towards the windshield. My lower spine was pushed against the corner of a railing, which prompted me to blurt out: "Ow~! It's like I was butt fucked!"

I ducked my head and mouthed an apologetic oops.

Shocked silence crooned its eerie song. Besides the bellyaching laughs of NorIda and HaiPhia and the dude I nearly fell into, I was glared at from all sides. HaiPhia later informed me that one lady in purple, whom she caught watching us during the entire 20-minute commute, actually made a discernible "O" with her mouth. She couldn't tell whether it was in muffled grievance or contempt.

In any case, I guess I do occasionally come off a little obnoxious. But I also have a habit of peppering my sentences with "high-brow" words, concepts, and references to justify -- perhaps even balance out -- the coarseness of my demeanour. Although, I just now realize that might as well be an open invitation to get beaten up.

Definitely counterproductive.

***

I attended a screening of a documentary that chronicled the life of American GIs in Iraq. The presenters of this film were war resisters from the United States forced to flee to avoid doing time. During the Q&A section, I asked fairly sympathetic questions, something along the lines of the aftermath of their actions, whether they were ostracized by their communities (all came from the South), what their impressions of big city supporters were compared to their tighter-knit counterparts.

(*sidenote: one resister walked out spewing obscenities when a student asked him if he would've signed on to join the army if he had known killing women and children were part of the job description. The question was unquestionably smug and malicious in its delivery, but the reaction was just as melodramatic. The way these men acted was similar to puppet show produced by a sensationalist ring master.)

This is my snobbery speaking, I admit, but he didn't answer my questions at all. It was like he had a script and, by God, he was going to stick to it:

"Like, everywhere we go, there's going to be people who like us or hate us. I mean, that's just the way it is."

Huh?

For the first time, I could feel the palpable wave of intimidation the audience exerted from their seats. These American soldiers -- uneducated and poor -- were trying hard to look undaunted by hipster eggheads. In that auditorium, I saw the ivory tower from the sidewalk. We, purveyors of intelligence, take pride in our meritocratic values, so needless to say, it's disconcerting to see any sort of self-indulgent superiority typically exhibited by adherents of inherited Old World prestige.

Thought to be extinct, but very much alive, it presented itself all too clearly. Furthering one's social status by leeching off impressive credentials. Where have we heard this before? Literacy hasn't replaced the old currency of exchange: it has simply become an ambivalent poker chip of distraction. To talk about money is a liberal faux-pas surged from our liberal guilt. It might be too taboo to talk about, but the choices limited by the lack of it surely isn't, especially not when it's a snooty assessment of small-minded Amerikans (an in vogue icebreaker, I'm sure).

I don't know what I'm talking about. Hypocrites exist in all forms. I'm blathering at random again. If only I had my thinking cap on ...

***

... instead of slathering an entire jar of Nutella on random food groups in an effort to cut dishes by 90 percent, cooking time by 100, and my life span in half!

Hooray for chocolate and celibacy!

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