Imagine sixty effusive, sparkly, costumed Jon Benet Ramsey girls with Noo Yawk accents. Imagine their mothers nearby: plump, forceful, with bad spray-on tans and two-packs-a-day cigarette habits. This was what greeted me today at breakfast. This whole week some sort of pageant has been going on, though I have been afraid to ask precisely what it is. Something strikes me as very wrong about the entire premise. My mother wouldn’t let my sisters wear makeup until they were thirteen or fourteen. Maybe it’s that whole Southern cultural thing. We do tend to be a bit more conservative.
Though I haven’t thought about this in years, my mind returns to Middle School. I recall an assembly we were all, male or female, required to attend. Because her daughter attended the same school as the rest of us, an archetypical Southern Belle mother was granted the ability to speak to us. I’m not exactly sure why the boys were included, since she spoke at much greater length about makeup than she did about proper nutrition. The woman drawled on and on about how when she taught beauty classes, her age limit for participation was 13, though there were always one or two mothers who tried to enroll their daughters sooner than that. The woman really only wanted to make money, and I’m sure had arm-twisted her way into attaining thirty minutes of valuable school time.
I’ve been housed for the past couple days in one of the older casinos, one slowly being renovated over the next few months. With time, one recognizes that a pecking order exists. The newer, nicer casinos attract a different class of people. I find incomprehensible that people would drive directly to a casino or at least to its top few levels specifically to do shopping. Everything here seems to be attached to a casino. I think somehow the two ought to be kept separate, though I understand the subtle and not-so-subtle coercion present. The phrase commonly used around addicts of a more liquid variety is this: “If you hang around a barber shop long enough, you’ll eventually get a haircut” Slot machines, card tables, and video displays are never once allowed out of view. I could be more moralistic, I suppose, but I seem to be the only person who finds the display off-putting, gaudy, and unsettling.
I notice I am beginning to lose more and more of my anonymity. Two random Atlantic City dwelling individuals on Twitter found my account, and then began to leave critical comments. In some ways, being a male feminist is a bit like being a Christian. One is encouraged to expect negative, often churlish remarks. But neither do I embrace an attitude of persecution. This is simply the price one pays for being more and more a public commodity.
I need to develop a thicker skin and not also forget the roots of the ignorant attitudes that motivate criticism. In some ways, I suppose I should rejoice that I have reached this stage. If I was meaningless and not pertinent, no one would even bother. But this is the two-faced nature of fame. I know that if I became a huge success, many would know my name, but few would know my face. I much prefer it this way. I’m not sure I could handle it if I was routinely recognized by strangers when going about my daily routine.