Thursday, May 14, 2009

Points To Consider: White Trash or Not?

One can hope this woman is employing irony. Let's look at why women might label themselves this way:
  • They want to get laid, easily (but does any woman --white trash or no--need to employ anything to do that?)
  • They want to show that they are not, in fact, as easy as their clothing might, uh, imply. Note that the message is repeated, in case you didn't get it, or quite understand, the first time you gazed into her chestal area and noticed words.
  • Or is it a case of incredulity and missing punctuation? As in 'fuck ME, I'm white trash?!?'

I have known women who might describe themselves as white trash or redneck, or might believe others think of them in that way, but not a one of them would have ever worn a shirt such as this. Maybe 'I'm with Stupid-->' or 'Baby Down Below' or 'Ewe's Not Fat, Ewe's Fluffy,' but nothing so egregious as this. In other words, they would think they were too classy, or they actually were. And they were right.

Near Mansfield, Pennsylvania, twenty years or so ago, I imbibed at a place called Putnam Park. Just outside of town, it had the major disadvantage of being a popular watering hole with locals and students alike.This led, of course, the the townie-student battleground every small-town college experiences. It got ugly sometimes. When my friends and I came in, having driven an Econoline van with no attached seats four or five miles out of town the wrong way down a one-way street --we were already half in the bag drinking Miller from a gallon milk jug--we met up with some, shall we say, unruly and restive natives glowering at us from under the brims of their hats. Now, I was a large man, even then, and my compadres, a tall in shape bass player named Mike,and his somewhat smaller but fierce girlfriend Leslie, were not particularly worried about a chilly reception. We were mellow, and we came to hear the band, and kept to ourselves. No problem.

However, what I had failed to consider was this: my sister and brother-in-law drank here too, on nights the college students didn't come. I had heard well-substantiated rumors about my brother-in-law's reputation in this place, with people not knowing who I was or what families I was attached to, who my people were. He was red-headed and occasionally ill-tempered,and more than a little cocky, which description also fit me, though I'm sort of more brown-headed. Anyway, I knew some people there,and nodded to them in the way you do to people you know but don't generally speak to, drank my rum and cokes, and had a good time. Until I got talking. To a woman, somewhat older and more well-worn than I was. You can see where this might lead.

We spoke, we got on famously, she pulled me into the small bathroom to neck a little. I was willing to go along, and chewed the spot above her shoulder's rose tattoo for some time. She said, "honey, what's your name?" as she messed around at the front of my jeans. I said my name, and she said "Sweet Jesus, I know your ma and dad,"and pushed me into the sink and left me hanging. Now I tried, with all the liquorous passion and rhetoric that drunk and smart-assed 19-year olds can muster to get back to where we had been, her breath a sweet funnel of cigarette and vodka that I can still taste, but nothing doing. She shut me off cold. I understood, sort of. I decided to have another drink.

I sat at the bar for a bit, and some guys playing pool began looking me over. I think now I'd call it a glower. My imagination then was nearly unbounded, and I could see all kinds of disaster happening, now that my friends had disappeared. I chose to hit the pay phone and call the family closest to me in distance, my sister. I called collect, at roughly some time in the early AM, and she came to get me in their blue Firebird. I was happy to get out. Now, in a dramatic story meant to illustrate how redneck women operate, she might have tried to kick my dumb ass herself,or those guys in the bar might have been sent by my paramour-of-the-moment to knock me around a little, maybe shove me under a truck to loosen my hangover. But none of that happened. The situation hinged on maybes and unspoken rules and the sheer brilliance of my trust in the fact that in the world I come from--yes, some rednecks might be involved--people are generally good to one another and thoughtful, and don't want to be fuckups or to screw the son of their friends, and sisters don't want to beat their dumbfuck brothers over the head with their own idiocy--all of this exactly opposite of the white trash/redneck stereotype.

So let's hope the woman in the picture is cultivating her sense of irony. Certainly, no actual white trash woman would wear that shirt. Only the pretenders.

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