A person accustoms himself to what he is, after all, and if he’s lucky he learns to hold in somewhat lower esteem all other ways of being, so as not to spend life envying them. —Jonathan Franzen, Strong Motion
You know, the American Left (such as it is) might not be melting faster than the ice caps if we made it a little harder for the Righties in Power to whip the masses into a frenzy of hatred with the use of that magic word elitist.
But instead, Lefty just blushes and lets Righty dress her up in the word, she turns this way and that in front of the mirror, likes the way it looks on her, she throws her shoulders back, lifts her chin, thinks Damn, I’m hot. Lefty doesn’t object to being called an elitist because it feeds her vanity.
It’s true that the lefter you are in the US, the more likely you are to have a college degree. But that hardly makes you an elite anything. These days it doesn’t even mean you can spell for chrissakes.
The Righties in Power know that perfectly well yet, without compunction (sorry, elitist word), they actively fabricate an utterly false class gap, exploit that sad human tendency to despise people who are different, and foment (sorry, elitist word) a climate of hate that ends up with little girls and other nice people dead in grocery store parking lots.
Law enforcement officials continue to piece together the facts in Saturday’s shooting rampage that left a federal judge dead and a congresswoman critically injured in Arizona, and some are questioning whether divisive political rhetoric may have played a role.
Back to elitists. You and I both know that most of us don’t have an elite bone in our bodies. (I actually do. Well, a tendon, not a bone; some chromosomal defect associated with English aristocracy gave me a short tendon on the inside of the last joint of my pinkies so they bend funny at the tip. But I’m sure it’s only because some ancestor of mine was raped by a blue blood while trying to empty a chamberpot or something. Unless of course you consider the aristocracy to be the bottom of the gene pool barrel due to inbreeding rather than the elite, which is probably closer to the truth and explains my deformity.)
The rest of me comes from all-American white trash stock. My dad was the first person ever to get a college degree on either side of my family, and that’s only because the Navy yanked him out of the enlisted ranks and popped him into Purdue and officer training at the tender age of 20. I went to a Party League college; when I was at San Diego State it was one of the top five party schools in the US. But I was a single mom with a preschooler and was not doing Girls Gone Wild at Cabo, trust me. I had a damn good time, though, and still graduated cum laude (sorry, elitist expression).
(Sexy trashy girls image: White Trash Beautiful II by Stefanie Schneider. Limited edition photo, edition of 150, signed.)
I do know what arugula is, and I adore it, but I couldn’t tell a Bordeaux from a Merlot, which I guess puts me on the beer track, which is peachy with me. I get so bored around wine people when they get going. Just pour me a glass of whatever goes with my spaghetti, there, Mr. Fancypants. I like opera (but know zip about it) and NFL football (which I know a lot more about). I read good literature almost exclusively, but I’m also a WoT geek (which is some of the worst writing around: “The boat made haste slowly down the river…”). I say fuck a lot.
Despite a BA and one and a half MAs, I realize every single day how little I know about anything. (It doesn’t help that I live in France where everybody knows everything.) In any given week I run across hundreds of cultural and historical references—things I never knew, know superficially, or have forgotten the details of—and I gotta look ‘em up on Wikipedia just like every other non-elitist, which is pretty much everybody.
(Wikipedia is the ultimate face-saver and dilettante-enabler (sorry, elitist word), isn’t it? You’re at a party, somebody starts talking about some esoteric (sorry, elitist word) topic, so you pop off to the bathroom, look it up on your iPhone, and come back and act like you knew all along what they were talking about. Plus you really learn stuff that way. Not that I ever did this. I usually just say “I have no idea what you’re talking about” and look it up when I get home.)
My point is (yes, I have one, kind of) that maybe if the Poor Right Trash weren’t made to feel so afraid that they wouldn’t know which metaphorical fork to use at a metaphorical dinner at a Liberal’s metaphorical house, they’d see us less as The Other. We just need to show them you can go to college and still know next to nothing, and top your tuna casserole with potato chips and still believe that gays have a right to live and breathe and get married and adopt kids!
Maybe the answer is a reality TV show where a liberal mom and conservative mom switch houses and cook Velveeta-based dinners for their temporary families and casually discuss values over dinner, all in an attempt to find common ground. (No evangelicals though, they can’t be reasoned with. We just need to write them off as a loss and hope they abstinence themselves to extinction.)
Aside: I was going to call this post Left Wing White Trash, but of course trash comes in all colors and flavors, and if we had to go and start adding letters for all of us, we’d end up like the LGBTIQPFLAG crowd and at a certain point you just have to pick a letter or a symbol or make up a word or something and let it go already. You guys (meaning guys and girls and everything in between and above and beyond, but I’m from California where you can just say you guys and everybody knows what you mean) had a good thing going with that upside-down triangle a while back instead of all these letters. It seems to have disappeared, don’t know where I was when that happened, but if you ditched it because of the Hitler connection I understand completely. But you could still revisit the general symbol idea and lose all the letters, although Prince with his little thou shalt not pronounce my name phase was totally absurd. The rainbow just doesn’t have enough gravitas; it’s way too Care Bear. There must be a happy medium somewhere between acronym and abstraction, and there must be something that does not scream fabric softener. And I’m a lifelong card-carrying FLAG by the way, so don’t even give me any shit about any of this.
Right, back to trash.
For your dining pleasure, here are my favorite White Trash recipes. I welcome any of your (mammal-free) trash recipes if you’d like to share. Hey elitist: Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
Crying Chicken (Its name in our family because my uncle Jim cried the first time my mom made it for him. Then he tasted it and stopped crying.)
4 skinned chicken breasts
2 T melted butter
1/2 medium onion minced (the original WT version called for the dried stuff)
10 oz can Cream of Mushroom or Cream of Chicken soup
1 c grated sharp cheddar cheese
Sauté minced onion in butter. Mix soup, cheddar, and sautéed onions in bowl. Place chicken in round casserole dish. Pour soup mixture over chicken. Bake covered at 325° for an hour. Good served with rice and peas.
Bunny’s Fruit Salad (Bunny is the mom of an ex-boyfriend.)
1 pkg (3 1/8 oz) vanilla pudding (not instant)
1 can mandarin oranges
1 lg and 1 sm can pineapple chunks
1 2/3 c of juice from pineapples plus syrup from oranges
Drain fruit, reserve juice. Prepare pudding according to box using juice instead of milk. Cool and thicken pudding. Slice bananas. Fold fruit into pudding. Serve chilled. 6-8 servings.
Tuna Casserole (From the side of a Creamette macaroni box, a brand I only ever saw in Michigan. No potato chips. Sorry to disappoint. But knock yourself out if you want.)
1 can tuna
8 oz Velveeta
1 c milk
1 can Cream of Mushroom soup
3-4 c medium or large elbow mac
Elitist ingredients I added to original WT version:
1 c frozen peas
1-2 t curry powder
1-2 t mustard
Heat soup, Velveeta, and milk in a saucepan till “cheese” is melted. Add tuna and, if using, peas, curry and mustard. Heat for a few minutes over med-low heat and remove from heat. Cook macaroni. Combine cooked mac and soup mixture and mix well. Pour into casserole. Sprinkle with parmesan. Bake covered at 325° for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake an additional 10 or 15 minutes till top gets a little crispy.