Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Bill Hicks: “You ever notice how people who believe in creationism look really unevolved? Eyes real close together, eyebrow ridges, big furry hands and feet...”

I wish to note a similar correlation to mating rituals. The less well-educated the people, the more primitive their mating rituals.

Take college parties, for example.

Alcohol is always a key factor, and often drugs. I pass no moral judgment on these activities. I don't partake, but so long as you don't bother me or hurt people, have a blast.

Actually, that last statement is a pretty good litmus test for the law.

Anyways, alcohol is necessary for college parties. These are, for the uninitiated, dance parties. Now, occasionally, someone will set up a dance party without alcohol. This experience is very different from the aforementioned. In this scenario the dance party will have a slightly hokey, ironic, or silly feeling about it. There is a reason why clubs are half dance floor, half bar. Most of us need liquoring up to get out and dance.

College kids, especially, need alcohol. Parties are just asking for drama. You'll see these people again, and you're smarter than the average bear (most of the time). It's kind of embarrassing to be majoring in Post-Colonial Feminist Studies and have a guy all grinding up in your biz.


So. Alcohol. Let's college kids do things that they'd never due in ordinary circumstances. That's why, in the non-Jack Daniels lubricated dance party, there's always some awkward laughter when folks grind: and they must do it very extravagantly, to prove that its all in good fun, and not at all serious.

It's kind of sad to watch, really.

As Shaw's Pygmalion pointed out, there are many incidental indicators of lacking status. When I see a group of folks, my age, whose language doesn't mirror English with but a passing interest, I can guess. If they're smokers, they're suspect. If their clothes are emblazoned with Raiders symbology, with drooping pants and Mickey Dees in their hands...

Profiling? Sure. These are badges and hallmarks, some unintentional and some proud, of their status. So I've recently been watching their mating habits.

In every discussion about the challenges of high school education there is a quest to find causes for the ills. This is a regressive game. If the ill-equipped students had a better middle-school teacher. A better elementary school teacher. Kindergarten and pre-school. Family life at home.

It always end with socio-economic status. (There's that word 'status' again.) Here's the truth: poor students do worse. Only once in a rare while does a poor student succeed. They have ridiculous odds to overcome, and need an incredible alignment of good fortune, opportunity, and perseverance for it to work. Of course, when a teacher goes out of their way for one student it means that they are turning their back on others.

Once/if these kids get through high school college is not pursued. They will make wages from $0 - $30 thousand a year, most likely. The experience of life is fundamentally of obstacles and challenges, rather than opportunities and 'life experiences'.

Many of the pleasurable pastimes of the better-off are not made available to these people. They don't have the luxury of being foodies. Zoo tickets are expensive, along with museums, and concerts, travel, and books. As George Orwell pointed out, the latter is not true relevant to something like cigarettes. I've heard this story as well, a dozen times: “I went to their home, a trailer, and they had a big screen tv! I couldn't believe it.” The seemingly obvious contradiction is not-so-glaring to them.

Priorities are different. For those in lower income brackets, entertainment is important, and that tv serves as a release (like cigarettes) and even as babysitter. Working with African American teens with a required income deficiency I saw a teacher once turn on a student: “Why do you buy those sneakers? How much were they? $100? Sure, they'd look nice walking into a nice house with a fence and a lawn. But where you live they're just going to get gutter muck on them and shit from the street. Be dirty in a week.” This phenomenon, sneakers, tvs, whatever, is more pronounced in lower economic brackets. Only the most recent, desperate, newcomers to the middle class feel the same pressure to keep up with the Jones'.

Barbecues are very different affairs, depending on your social status. When the wealthy barbecue it is backyard. Food is obviously a cut above. The age-old alcoholic distinction comes out: wine is classy, beer is cheap.

Lower on the pay scale it scales back, and gets rowdier. It moves to the front yard, and gets louder. Soft and quiet are the property of the better off. Rough and ready is the realm of the rowdies. Picture these two scenarios: a group of upper-middle class doctors and lawyers hooting and hollering, knocking back beers and generally causing a neighborhood ruckus. Now picture a group of lower class clerks and construction workers taking in a symphony.

The possible incongruity of these images is due to many things. But the rowdy barbecue is a great location to observe the mating rituals of the participants. Part of this may be do to the dress code. Richies don't go to a barbecue shirtless, showing off their pecks. Cocktail dresses are sported rather than tank tops and jean shorts. The more flesh on display, the more carnal the thought process.

Language is less inhibited. This means more jokes at each other's expense perhaps, and more direct flirting. Of course we can easily picture the upper-crust having a laugh at so-and-so's recent gaffe and some polite flirtation. But the consequences of sneaking upstairs are also far more mortifying for these well-off people. There are links between young mothers and poverty.

You know what's fun and free? Sex.

When, in the 1700s, the wealthy of Europe, the nouveau riche, started throwing mansion up all over the countryside they made private bedrooms. Secluded inner chambers for secluded acts. This was vastly different from the poorer folk, who shared rooms, and often shared beds. Sex was more open and less reserved in these cottages. As refinement progressed these ideas turned into 'modesty' and 'decency', which have always tarred the 'softer' classes.

Sex is fun and free. Until quite recently you only needed a willing partner and an ease of decorum. Sex, itself, is seen as being somewhat base. This baseness is a boon to those whom revel in their base attributes and ambitions. In a way, perhaps, it's as though this is their revenge: they have menial jobs, lousy salaries, stresses and problems we're free from. But since we point out their unrefined habits and qualities they have a means of getting back: taking pride in their rowdy, loud, uncouth, unrefined, sexy, low-down natures.

For the upper brackets PDA is defiant. It is an expression that you don't care who knows it, you love him or her without restraint. PDA is defiant for the lower classes too: it unapologetically reminds the world of their existence.

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