Thursday, September 17, 2009

Snob, Part Two: "The Shallow End," Wherein the Things I Own End Up Owning Me

It was explained to me recently that my inherent snobbery is more a manifestation of my inadvertent classist attitude than it is a superiority complex. Or maybe those are the same thing, and I am just being wordy. It is not that I think I’m better because of the things I have. I just like to show off shiny toys when for so many years I had none.

That’s not to say that I never had nice things. I think I was spoiled as a child. Mom taught me to take care of my nice things, to put my toys away, to appreciate what I had.

My cousin had the cooler Star Wars figures and the goddamned Millenium Falcon, but I did have some kickass toys. I got both Optimus Prime and Megatron for Christmas. I had almost all the Battle Beasts. And I don’t remember if it was a birthday present or if I had help saving up for it, but I did get a Nintendo Entertainment System not too long after it was released.

For being in what was then the lower middle class, I think my parents tried to get me everything they could afford to. And I wasn’t aware of how hard it must have been. When other kids with the Nintendo were playing Metroid and Zelda, I only had the Super Mario games. When everyone in school was wearing the classic black and white Adidas, I had the black Nike shoes (I wish I had them now. They were awesome). When everyone was wearing the Girbaud jeans, I wore Levis 501s. I pouted the whole while thinking my parents were so out of touch. Man, did I want to be cool.

I can’t be positive, but I think that all that disappointment (ingratitude, really) is what set me up for my adult life where I needed — where I still need — to have the right things. The name brand things. I eat motherfucking Kraft macaroni and cheese. I don’t drink cola, I drink Coca-Cola. I didn’t want an MP3 player, I needed an iPod. I didn’t want a laptop until I was able to buy the best damn MacBook that Apple makes. I don’t think I’m better than the people with the Sam’s Choice pop and the Zune and the Dell. It is as though I need to assert that where I throw my money, where I spend my time, that in which I invest is at last good enough. I think that finally my stuff is better than theirs, that finally I am the cool kid with the toys I wanted. It is ridiculous, it is petty, and it makes me look like a snob.

So, what kills me is that at this point in my life, when I have the nice things and feel like I have ‘arrived’ or something, it seems to be in fashion to look as poor as possible. Hipsters, I am not necessarily talking about you anymore. Some of you are wearing the Edie Sedgwick getup and I guess it’s working. Maybe it’s time I should be calling out the crusties instead.

Fuck, really? Wearing just the grossest jeans and having the grungiest hair possible. I used to not wash my hair because I was running late for school. Now if I do wash my hair, it looks like I’m running late for cool. Hey dicks, do you have any idea how out of fashion it is to be homeless? There is a guy who wanders around the Crystal Court in the IDS Center, slowly eating Doritos, and he is miserable as hell. He looks just like you, and I wanna cry my eyes out every time I see him. I guess maybe you are trying to identify with him or whatever, to distance yourself from the bourgeoisie, but I bet given the option, he would love to be wearing some new clean clothes.

I’m not wearing expensive jeans and new shoes to make him feel bad about where he is in life; I’m wearing it to feel good in contrast to the places I have been in mine. I am not talking about high school. I didn’t realize how fortunate I was. My parents probably bought me Nike when it was more in the budget to buy the New Balance (and isn’t it fucking ironic that now those are in style). No, I’m talking about when I was wearing the same black, worn out jeans I had since my senior year, except I was 25 and shivering on my hand-me-down couch, coming down off of two days on meth.

It’s taken me a good, solid five years to get back from that place, where I was in rehab for my 26th birthday, in a halfway house for my 27th. It was a hell of a lot more comfortable than dead. And more comfortable still is sitting here, typing on my MacBook, the fastest, prettiest computer they make. Drinking a Coke that tastes 400 times better than any cola. There is a reason the slogan is “the real thing.” I don’t want to keep pointing out how good this stuff is. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t want the same.

There are two big mistakes I make. The first is that people have different taste than mine. I don’t know why they do, but some people prefer using Windows over the Mac OS. And maybe they really like Pepsi.

The second mistake I make is a big mistake to make. It’s that maybe that person can’t afford the name brand shit; they can only afford the Sam’s Choice soda, the Crispy Hexagons and Panburger Partner (those are both real brands).

Shit. I didn’t realize that my comparing the Mac to your PC is about a $1400 difference. That’s where this guy looks like the big assholes he’s been trying to warn you about. That’s where that classism comes in, and I’m looking down on myself, thinking, “Wow. I really do think I’m better. Or at least I act like it.”

I am not in a different class than most of my friends. I am maybe more debt-free, but again, this took years. And after I cleaned up, I started looking at my life like the plot of Fight Club in reverse. Like, after hitting rock bottom, after losing almost everything, I was free to do anything, and it was to buy myself some nice shit. And now I’m sleeping in some 1000 thread count sheets because someone told me they were the best (honestly, I think they are too soft and I like the 450 better). And I’m wearing Emporio Armani and Calvin Klein underwear because my friend bought me some as a joke and I found out that they are more comfortable than Hanes.

Now my life is about the little improvements that make me feel better, and the people who say money can’t buy happiness can fucking eat me. Because money got me this laptop to bitch and moan to you, and it got me the BlackBerry so I can text the pretty girls. These are little shiny things to hold up to the light and admire, and I should really do the world a service and dance around my room in my underwear rather than telling you about them.

Once more, I have this blog to say what I want, and that is that I am proud of what I have earned. I bought this shit myself. And like Mom taught me, I appreciate the stuff I have. Often it comes across like bragging, but most of you cannot believe how far I’ve come, how much I really do love where I am and what I have.

There is a light at the end of this blog for those of you who are still thinking that I am a cold materialist.

Above all, the company I now keep and the people I value the most are far better than any company I had kept in the past. The sentiment is gay as hell, but I really do love them more than my MacBook and my new Asics and all that other stuff that is truly just some shiny shit.

But just barely.



  1. I applaud you man. Simply put, your rise from the depths is commendable. Your attitudes are very understandable.

    The only thing that I can argue is the PC vs. Mac debate. I know the virtues of both very well. *shrugs* I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter how good or bad either of them is. It all comes down to preference. I like to tinker, so Windows is for me. I eventually will have to break down and have a Mac, but it sure isn't going to hinder me if I don't get one within the next

    I do admire your conviction and commitment. I also hope I see you around sometime.

  2. i guess i didnt really think about things like that growing up the way you did. except when time like when i did get the falcon. i remember wanting to give it to you back then. and later on when you had every star wars figure in the box lining your room i again wanted to give you the falcon. i think my mom still has it??? as for coke or pepsi, when i buy soda i usually buy coke, but when im at a restaurant and they only have pepsi i drink that ( i dont think i could tell if it was from a tap ).

    really all i want is to someday after i retire from teaching to live by the ocean and study octopus and go on trips with my wife and kid