CULTIVATING LIBERALISM
FOR ALL CLIMATES
SINCE 1759
 
Google
 

Free alert to Candide's Notebooks
Your email:

JOIN ME AT MY BULLSHIT SITES

From Nerve: “When I was young and knew nothing about money, I believed what our priest told us about the rich: they were bad, they'd go to hell, and though they might have it good here on earth, later, under the lash of the devil, they'd know suffering just like us poor folks. He said something to that effect, probably under the auspices of paraphrasing Jesus. So I grew up a little afraid of the rich and their godless insouciance. But that didn't stop me from wanting to live among them, to be one of them, even if it meant eternal damnation. Not too long after that, I stopped asking God to bless my mommy and daddy in my prayers, and I started asking Him for cold, hard cash.

I'm from the "other side of the tracks," a place much like the street in the opening shot in Pretty in Pink. The pan of those squat, unremarkable homes stacked side-by-side like rotting teeth, reminds me of the one-street-light town, near an ugly blue-collar city, where I was raised. All the salt-box houses were surrounded by chain-link fences, behind which messy toddlers wandered shirtless and upset, one hand up their noses, the other holding up their saggy diapers. If you had ambitions, you were scoffed at. For instance, some mothers had part-time jobs, maybe at the arena, maybe taking in other people's kids, the extra money possibly affording them an above-ground pool or a trip to Florida to see some relatives. While they'd unpack their ping-pong tables or show off their Siamese cats ("She's the indoor-only kind!"), my mother and her friends would mutter about them behind their backs. Who did they think they were, with their salon perms and their campers, smoking their menthol cigarettes on their new decks, hovering above the rest of us like they think they're so good? What, do they think they're rich or something?

As I got older, I became savvy to the fact that others had what I wanted, and so I became rabidly, unflatteringly covetous. Whenever we drove by the mansion homes of others, I'd picture my distracted mother pulling our rusty station wagon over in front of the U-shaped driveway. "Well, nice to see you people. Do take care," I'd imagine yelling to the depressed cargo, before breaking into a sprint at the bend, following the sound of chamber music and Corgis echoing off the sun-dappled roof of my real family's home. "Oh Christ, quit talking fancy," my mother always replied in the daydream, shattering the rest of it by tossing her spent cigarette into the mansion's pristine hedges. Acting fancy was a sin to my mother, unless someone better than you (read: rich) was pinning a carnation to your homemade prom dress or wrestling a half-carat diamond ring over your knocked-up knuckle.

I must make this distinction: we weren't poor as in hungry, we were poor as in broke and tacky. To covetous me, it was worse than hunger, because middle-class comforts were dangled right before my eyes. I could see them, almost touch them, but I did not have them because my parents couldn't afford them. Their crowd spent their money on cigarettes, bingo and beer, so I grew up not just ashamed of being poor, but also of the bad taste and manners that seemed to go with the lifestyle. And I vowed to get out.” See the full essay...

|
Bookmark and Share

THE DAILY JOURNAL
Read Pierre’s Latest at


 
The Latest Comments
 
GOOGLE GOOGLE NEW YORK TIMES NEWSPAPERS NETFLIX UK INDEPENDENT NETFLIX
 
  
RECENTLY IN THE DAILY JOURNAL: NOTEBOOKS ORIGINALS
RECENTLY IN THE DAILY JOURNAL: CRUMBS & CRIBS

   
 
Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in NewsGator Online Subscribe in Rojo   Add to My AOL Subscribe in FeedLounge Add to netvibes Subscribe in Bloglines Add to The Free Dictionary