Thursday, March 6, 2008

Driving Ambition

Cars. SUV's. Pickup trucks. Everywhere. All types. Here in the Snotty Suburb I see them all -- from vintage to flashy-new blingmobiles. The kind of car you drive reveals ever so much about you; that's true everywhere but I like to think we can take it to a new and more neurotic level of scrutiny, so here goes. . .
People who drive the monster-sized white Lexus SUV with the gold trim are trying too hard -- and we all know it. So there.
Minivans usually belong to visitors.
Volvos are practically a given. A geriatric Volvo station wagon is perfectly acceptable; a shiny new Volvo SUV was almost certainly acquired via lease by someone struggling to keep up with the cost of Snotty Suburb-ness.
BMW's and Mercedes station wagons are usually found in two colors -- black and white.For some reason, silver is the favored color for the BMW/MB  SUV's. There is the occasional madcap red sportster, but not too often and best if it's a vintage model.
Toyotas and Hondas are fine; Camrys and Accords are usually found parked in the driveways of those newly arrived to Snotty Suburb and will be replaced once the staggering cost of the first home remodel has been absorbed. Bet on it.
The Range Rover is the only one to drive. A Land Rover is just too pathetic. And we all know it.
A Hummer? Never, ever, ever. Not even. Just keep going because you're better suited for the lot-line, new-construction, huge-tract-home suburbs up the road a piece.  And that goes double for you in the Escalade. 
The Honda Pilot is for the nanny. The beat-up Toyota/Honda/Nissan compact is for the housekeeper. The aged Toyota Land Cruiser, on the other hand, belongs to the people who have so much money they don't have to care what you think about what they drive. Likewise the ancient Jeep Cherokee and the restored 1966 Ford Mustang.
The new Jeep Cherokee with the leather upholstery and the booming, crazy-loud sound system belongs to the teenager down the street. 
If I think of more, I'll add to the list. Feel free to comment. 

Saturday, March 1, 2008


I went into the local coffee-chain store the other morning and saw two of them. Anas. Anorexics. My age, or maybe a little younger.

They scare me.

The two I saw wore yoga-style clingy black capri pants and zip-up sweatshirts. Their shrunken behinds and stick legs were anchored to the floor by sneakers that look gigantic below their spindly little ankles. They moved carefully, clearly afraid if they get knocked down they'll shatter. So, maybe it's not that they scare me -- I probably scare them. The sweatshirts they wore were remarkable because it was 72 degrees and sunny -- one of those rare February days when Summer steals a day from Winter. The rest of the caffeine-addicts in line wore short sleeves; some even wore shorts and flip-flops.

Not the Anas, though -- by the way they cradled their hot paper cups of coffee with their fingers laced tight around them, I could see they were cold.
And hairy.

Their faces were fuzzy, and, from seeing other Anas who wore short sleeves, I know their arms were hairy as well.

I saw one of those "Behind the Scene" segments on an entertainment news show a couple of years back; it showed the filming of a Chanel Number 5 ad, starring Nicole Kidman. She was front-lit and the camera caught her being fussed over by a wardrobe person. She was wearing an open-backed dress and stood poised, ready to run across a rooftop or some damn thing. Anyway, my thought was, "Wow! I can see every single bone of her spinal chord!"

As though reading my thoughts, the editor for the segment immediately changed shots after that, replaced it with one of her looking radiant, gorgeous, and slim, as opposed to fleshless.

I later saw a trailer for the Stepford Wives movie. The screen in the movie theatre was filled with an extreme close-up of her face, twenty feet tall, and I saw it -- she was hairy. And it made me sad. Here she is, an Academy Award-winning actress, beautiful and at the top of her game -- with the Anas hairy thing going on. HD format must be a bitch for the makeup people.

Skinny I understand. I'm skinny. Both naturally so, and also because I decided to drop about thirty pounds so that I wouldn't turn into an old person whose joints ached from the extra weight.

So yeah, skinny I get. So skinny that you get hairy and skeletal, that's just sick.

And it is -- sick. I've read enough PSA's to know this is an aggression and hostility in women turned on themselves; control issues, body-image framed by the media -- I get that, I really do.

Still. Isn't there a moment when Anas look down at their arms and wonder when they started looking hirsute? And don't they wonder why their makeup gets caught in all that fur on their jawlines?

Anas have a quality of desperation in their countenance. It's there, if you can get past the hollowed-out eye sockets, the papery-looking complexion, the pronounced lines framing their mouths -- is it the fear someone will make them eat? Or that their husbands will leave them for another younger, prettier (not hard to imagine; whatever prettiness Anas once had is a shallow facade in their bony faces) or, most damnable of all, a skinnier woman?

As if that were at all possible.