Is it easier and more fulfilling around the time of the Mayor’s Cup, Battle of Plattsburgh and Fourth of July, a number of people vomit a chunky pile of ignorance and cruelty all around me. I try to avoid it, but it’s seemingly everywhere, and before I know it, I am swimming up to my neck, and even as I sit up in bed writing this, I can smell the stench in my hair, taste it on my tongue and feel it layered over my flesh.
To this day I haven’t figured out how to avoid the disease seeping from the mouths of these individuals.
And I know they aren’t going to stop, because they are compelled, by every dysfunctional fiber of their being, to detest what they have labeled the North Country’s “finest.”
I remember the first few times I heard this phrase and the venom and intense hatred that carried it. I wondered if they were discussing a roaming band of pedophiles, maybe a ruthless gang of sociopaths who giggled as they cracked the skulls of defenseless old ladies enjoying fresh air as they leaned on their walkers outside the nursing home, perhaps a roaming band of meter maids whose earnings were solely generated by ticket output.
A shiver ran up and down my spine and I damned myself for selling my black 12 gage with the pistol grip. How would I protect myself? My family?
But then I discovered who they despised, and I had to excuse myself to go vomit.
They were talking about — and I apologize for the generalizations and possibly offensive language — the poor, uneducated rednecks and white trash.
Not the harmful, dangerous and malicious bunch of these groups, but simply ordinary poor, uneducated red necks and white trash.
You see, the people they despised cussed, were prone to excited outbursts at times that made those casting judgment uncomfortable, and they dressed inappropriately.
Well, those were the claims at least, and I quickly learned they stemmed from what the elitists had determined, for themselves and everyone else, to be appropriate.
So I started paying attention, and quickly discovered that more people make up the groups deemed disgusting than the actual dictators, though that is how it often seems to work in history.
I deduced that, in general, the groups did indeed swear often, did not wear chinos and button-ups and comfortably expressed their emotions, loudly at times, and in theatrical ways. I didn’t see anything wrong with wearing dress pants adhering to the social norms the elitists had chosen as appropriate, but I wondered why they projected them on everyone else and judged harshly when their rules were broken.
It seemed as though, upon close examination, that those judgments stemmed from inferiority complexes, delusions of grandeur and intense insecurities, but I quickly reminded myself I was supposed to be studying the poor, rednecks and white trash. It didn’t matter that the elitists seemed in dire need of loosening up and did not in fact have a monopoly on social norms, but who was I to judge?
Still, as I overheard swearing among the marginalized and so-called inappropriate discussions, I couldn’t help but wonder who decided the “F” word should be frowned upon.
And in terms of inappropriate discussions, I was at a local gathering of business professionals, during which one individual complained that providing employees with a livable wage and adequate health care would cut into the three expensive vacations he took every year. Another bragged about backing politicians who support legislation that oppress the marginalized. Perhaps they should be recognized for avoiding cuss words and speaking “appropriately,” but their discussions sure seemed offensive to me.
Clothing norms consistently confuse me. Years ago I covered an event on casual Friday in a T-shirt and jeans and was chastised by organizers and other attendees. They would not respect me nor take me seriously because of my “offensive” outfit. I countered I should be judged by my work and was told to grow up.
Look, if you want to wear a suit and tie while shopping for underwear at Walmart, fine, but don’t judge someone you pass who is wearing torn jeans and a shirt with a beer can on it, showing obvious affection to his or her children while you play on your smart phone and ignore yours.
Finally, I welcome excited outbursts. I was at the fair and witnessed one man yell, "That sh*t was cool," and another say to his wife, "Yes, well dear, wasn't that an appropriate color for that clown's outfit?" I wondered if the latter was enjoying himself. Passionate outbursts reveal passion and that the vessel displaying them has emotions. Plus, I like knowing who I am dealing with and appreciate someone who vibrantly shows anger, happiness and sadness.
I worry about smiles that mask emotions and intentions, subsequently masking the truth. What if behind that smile your demise is being planned?
I lived in a Kansas trailer court and had great respect for my neighbor who had no qualms telling me he wanted to kick my butt.
No guessing involved there.
Reach Editor Stephen Bartlett at firstname.lastname@example.org.