Saturday, May 30, 2009

With great readership comes great responsibility...

With four official followers already, and others who have pledged to follow, I feel compelled and inspired to begin my journey of mastery in the short-essay form. Taking a cue from that acid-tongued Algonquian Circle member, I start with "The Men I Am Not Married To."

In my last post, I mentioned two dashing gentlemen who convinced me to start blogging again. Woe betide me that they weren't the only gentlemen who approached me that evening. Oh no. There were, of course, the prematurely aging lawyers, one of whom gave me his card "in case I ever need help in copyright litigation;" a balding gay man; one who blew cigarette smoke in my face as we sat on the patio (and thank goodness for the patio, or else he wouldn't have been able to smoke *at all*!); and the most curious find of the evening, a small Greek man who remarkably resembled Jonathan Levinson from 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer.'

I was sitting and telling my compatriots about my summer course (find the PDF syllabus here), and how we were reading Leopold von Sacher-Masoch for the next class. "Masoch?" you say? "Sounds familiar...." Add "-ism" to the end and you have it. So just as this wee Greek was seating himself, I held my tongue momentarily, lest I frighten or enthrall him. Everyone begs me to continue, so I conclude "...and the story is all about this guy getting whipped."

Now something must have been lost in translation, because wee-G didn't understand that I was speaking for the author of the book, not for myself. He approached me later with the regard, "[imagine the most stereotypical Greek accent] So, you're the BDSM girl." No, thank you, but I'm reading it. "Oh. Yeah. It's cool. I'm into being tied up." Fine, but I don't think you understand. "I can tell I'm freaking you out." Not really. I know people do this; I'm reading about it, you know? I just don't think it's very classy to talk about that with someone you've just met. "But you did...." No, I was talking to my friends. I know them. "I just don't like to have trivial conversations. I think it's better to be more adventurous." Very well. Take your adventures to the girl in the thigh-high boots, then. I'm sure she's much more your type.

Well then. As sorry as I am to have missed the paddle-boat, I wonder what it is about South-East European/Mediterranean cultures that says propositioning is socially acceptable. An acquaintance of mine who is currently in Greece apparently recently had a man ask if he could call her or "feel her" later, so it wasn't just wee-G. Having invented democracy, Western philosophy, and spanakopita does not make it right for you to tell me your proclivities on our first meeting, so please stop displaying your prominent bodily hairs and oils.

So what is the cultural train-wreck, here? I mean, we're both acting according to cultural mores, so is anyone "wrong" in this situation? Must there be an impasse? Is there a point of compromise between offending/offended? Or is someone always going to be the bottom?

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"If all the girls at Harvard were laid end to end..."

Yesterday night, I went to an Ivy League social mixer in spite of never having attended, or indeed ever visited an Ivy League campus. A friend of a friend invited the friend, who then invited... and so on. In a moment of "bored now," I was ten seconds from leaving with the cousin of the friend, when two gents stopped us on the way to the door. We ended up staying two more hours.

Like myself, and apparently like many of the others at the event, these two gents were gatecrashers. No, they didn't even know Ivy Leaguers in attendance, shame and horror! They knew the event organizer. And for all the prematurely-aged, presumably-intoxicated, and preternaturally-arrogant lawyers at the event, I was regularly singled out as someone who could drop puns, barbs, and banter among the best of us. One of the gents asked if I had a blog he could follow, and the group of listeners agreed that I should.

So here you are. A charming stranger who knew exactly how to flatter the target demographic of the evening (no wonder he was invited...) has convinced me of my worthy wit. I've abandoned blogging in the past as self-indulgent; I always seem to end up whining about my problems. I suppose if I change my focus (i.e. whining about what I see as absurd social problems), it might be less self-indulgent and more ...self-indulgent? Because, oh, I noticed these strange cultural foibles, and aren't you glad I did? But at least entertaining, and not so much about me.

An example: Blogger suggests labels for my post, "e.g. scooters, vacation, fall." The latter of the three suggests poetic musings; the median, perhaps the ecstatic ravings of the leisure class; the foremost, hipsters. A caveat: without intended ill will, with all due introspection that I also fall into the social pits worthy of satire. Agreed? Agreed.