« on: March 05, 2013, 12:48:17 am »
I want to be one of the Good Guys.
I don't WANT to believe it's hopeless yet.
When you see me roll up in my crisp, navy-blue uniform, purple steth slung round my neck, dragging a stretcher and a Zoll, I want you to go "Oh good, she's HERE. She's gonna get us fixed up. It's gonna be okay now."
Something's got to give...I mean, it has to. It can't go on like this indefinitely...can it? Can they keep doing this and keep doing this? Milking us at the cusp of revolt?
I struggle with ambivalence: torn between chastising myself for living in relative comfort and peace, yet bitching about injustice and all that we don't "get." That's how they getcha though: it's intentionally set up not for ambiguity, but to literally be both at the same time. If you whine, you are a lazy, selfish pussy. Fucking cry me a river because you have to make that iPhone 4S last another year, you materialistic cunt.
If you tell the whiners to shut up, show some gratitude and get a fucking job....If you say "You think this is bad, go try living in Russia," you're a heartless, naive, corporate apologist/protectionist wingnut who doesn't have the good sense to realize he's getting fucked.
And then it occurs to me: You know what this is? It's a fucking huge Mardi Gras parade. They ride by on floats and throw shit off: beads, Moon-pies, small toys, flashlights, beer koozies...and we: arms outstretched, hoping to catch something, writhing and muscling our way around for a better view, and tucked safely behind the barricades with Officer Dingo standing by to make sure we stay there--that no one crosses the line to get a better reach or approach the floats or hold up the parade.
Those of us near the front--the ones who got there first either because we got off work early enough or live close to the route--we're vying for the "good stuff." We don't want just beads, we want first crack at the stuffed animals and those little blinky toys for our young'uns. We want the Doubloons; those shiny, aluminum commemorative coins with the Society's theme and date stamped on. We want the cups and frisbees and roses. The BIG beads. The special stuff...and we usually get it, too.
The less fortunate, the ones who got to the party late (and by "late," I mean, they started filling up the space only 20 minutes before the parade instead of an hour or more), they're relegated to catching what flies past the front ranks. Sometimes, if someone back there gets really cutthroat and has a natural catch, they can snake stuff away from those of us with our bags clipped to the barricade...grab stuff out of hands, push small children out of the way for a stuffed frog with a heart sewn on its ass. In fact, some do really well that way; by being heartless. Ramming an elbow into your four-year-old's face by "accident" and when the child falls back to cry and have mommy kiss the boo-boo, you find you've lost your spot. They've now jammed themselves into your child's place and you know challenging them will start a race-war.
It was never fair to begin.
So you stay silent. And you resort to covert, passive-aggressive tactics to push them back out...back where they belong. The others up near the front, realizing you belong there, close ranks around you and your child--either consciously or subconsciously--and the offending party is expelled again: bubbled back to the rear. No matter how hard they try, the odds are stacked against them. They know what you're doing and what's but they can't prove it and Officer Dingo ain't gonna help.
It was never fair to begin.
The old, the infirm make up the last row. Usually in hover-rounds and camper-chairs, they settle in and stand fast with plastic shopping bags: content to pick up the scraps: the stray beads, a doubloon nobody saw, cups that bounced off someone's hat. All told, they do pretty well...take home bags and bags and bags of the stuff nobody saw, nobody wanted or that the rest of us were too busy fighting over a rainbow, LED wizard's staff to make a grab for.
The float-riders are all masked, of course. Decked out in satin and sequin, drunk and jovial: they've been drinking since before noon, drunk before it was even time to get in costume. Drunk when loading the floats the night before, even. Final fittings, last minute instructions, drunk. Drunk. Pleasantly and willfully oblivious. They throw the best stuff to their buddies in the crowd, their favorites, pretty woman, small white children...If you holler "Roll tide!" or have on their team's jersey, they'll throw you a Society football. Some of us just get picked. Some of us just know people. Some of us, you know, just root for the same team.
Roll tide, roll.
The maskers roll too. They roll on to the Civic Center where they'll have their bal masque: first the tableaux, then, costume de rigueur: tails and white tie and waistcoat. No one gets in without an engraved invitation and a floor-length gown but once you're inside...they hand you an embossed cup at the door. Revelry. Who cares what's going on outside?
And just like that, show's over. Outside, police and workers blow whistles: "Get back! Get off the barricade! Get back, go home!" Dark-skinned workers in hardhats and hi-vis vests pick up whole sections of barricade and move them onto the sidewalk, out of the street, making way for the sweepers. You get your bag, grasp your child's hand and run; politics forgotten, fellow revelers erased. You run back to the car and begin the battle through traffic.
It isn't until you're halfway home, driving down Dauphin Street, stopping for fuel on S. Ann that you realize: the net value of the shit in your bag has got to be seven bucks. Ten, tops. You just spent twice that in gas and incidentals to get there.
Roll tide, roll.
I want to be one of the Good Guys...but I don't want to lose my spot.