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|:HOME:|:RANTS:|:NOVEMBER 10, 1999:
"Baby You Can Drive My Car"
NOVEMBER 10, 1999

Okay, it's long and it's self-centered and it's blathery and it's full of typos, but I'm posting it anyway!

And to think, I could've been watching my new Spice Girls Live video.

Truthfully, there were some parts of this particular episode that I found... well, not truly ENJOYABLE, but at least amusing and/or consistent with the characters. Kelly "Her Mouth Looks Like a Cat's Anus (tm Sars)" Taylor getting all pissy about "I said BLUEBERRY pancakes!" (Who drives to a restaurant and orders pancakes to go? Knowing BH geography, it's not likely that the Peach Pit would be closer than a 10-15 minute drive from any Hillster's house... and hot, steamy pancakes would get all soggy in their Styrofoam container before Kelly could get them back to her mother's house. If she was going to the Beach Apartment, make that a 30-40 minute drive. Don't these people have any groceries in their houses? Milk and cereal? Eggos or Pop-Tarts? Don't they know how to cook?) That was pretty amusing. And, I mean, I still don't like Gina and the whole Bad Girl Shtick, but I think VM is doing a good job with the whole manic/depressive emotional roller coaster and extreme insecurity of her character and it seems consistent that she would be involved with an emotionally unavailable partner and not have the self-respect to leave or to seek out a healthy relationship (and I don't mean with Davy! Sheesh! I mean, like, in another zip code!).

But that said, why why why why why do all of the relationships portrayed on this show have to be with these completely spineless women who stick out unfulfilling relationships, put up with abusive behavior - or just plain boorish louts - all because "I love you!"/"I love him!" or, the time-honored 90210 theme, "we're meant for each other!" "We're meant to be together!" "We're soulmates!" (Or, as Asian Claire sick-makingly said re: Skeevy Stevie: "he's my angel.") Awwww.

I know I've bitched about the soulmate thing before, but it's such a favorite thing of mine to complain about anyway, in terms of Hillsterism (new word, tm me) as well as in real life. The fact remains that, when you are emotionally involved with someone, of COURSE you are going to think you are MEANT to be together and you are SOULMATES! Humans are pattern-seeking creatures by nature, and instill with meaning things that might essentially be meaningless. I mean, when I was with my h.s.b.f., DumbAss, I thought we were going to be together forever. I downplayed faults of his (and I don't just mean the laughable things, like the fact that he wore jeans so tight that it actually gave him a cross-your-heart effect on his testicles, or that he sported Major Shelf-o'-Hair to rival Brandon's... I'm talking selfishness to the extreme, arrogance, unsupportiveness, and psychologically-damaging behavior) all because, bottom line was "I loooooved him!" I believed that, because when I was 14 I'd had a dream about meeting a guy with the same first initial as his, or because his maternal great-grandmother's maiden name was the same as MY maternal great-grandmother's maiden name (Nelson, not anything unusual), or because people used to say I looked a lot like Brinda and someone once said he looked like Dylan (It was the forehead. Seriously), or because I liked white meat and he preferred dark meat so chicken and turkey got divided up evenly (I'M NOT MAKING ALL THIS SHIT UP! I BELIEVED THIS CRAP!) that we were MEANT to be together! We were PERFECT for each other! I overlooked years of emotional dissatisfaction because that garbage! I readily agreed that we were "soulmates" and must've been together in past lives, and would be together unto eternity. I "just knew." Well, actually, I "just knew" I'd DIE without him and would love him forever, and if something ever happened to him or he ever left me, I'd fall apart! I loved him THAT much! (Because, you know, falling apart = rilly rilly love someone.)

In my insecurity, instead of focusing on real, actual, human qualities, I instead convinced myself of things that could never be proven in this lifetime. If I believed that we were MEANT to be together on some higher plane, then I wouldn't have to risk losing the relationship by questioning his actual actions, like the fact that this person who supposedly loved me was constantly telling me I needed to loose weight because I "wasn't the girl [he] fell in love with." (Um, DumbAss? Women's bodies CHANGE in the years from 15-22, you moron!) And, after an hours-long demoralization like this, he'd go to McDonald's, order two hamburgers, 20 chicken nuggets, two large fries and a large Coke, suck it all down in front of me, and tell me I didn't have "willpower" or "discipline." Or his selfishness and materialism, which manifested itself on a daily basis, but was particularly touching on the occasion of my 21st birthday, when, the week before, he spent thousands of dollars having a top-of-the-line stereo installed in his sports car and then, the day after my birthday, remarked offhandedly that he was giving me his OLD stereo as my birthday gift because he thought the stereo in my car sucked. (No, he didn't offer to have it installed.) Or his insistence that I "be there" for him at such life-altering events like watching his performance in the weekly bowling league (It didn't matter if I had homework or was working on my writing... I could bring it with me... but had BETTER be watching every time he was up! God forbid I miss him ranting and raving that he didn't pick up that 7-10 split! Oooh!)... or when he was singing in a band... or when he was DJing at a club... or when he was playing volleyball... or tennis... or- Or especially the fact that my attention and support for him were never reciprocated with attention or support for me.

He was my first and only boyfriend, and I was young and very insecure, and of COURSE I wanted to believe that we were MEANT to be together! I ate up the idea that our friends thought we were a super-couple! I loved it when people asked me "so when are you guys finally gonna get married?" (no matter that he freaked out at comments like that... if our friends and families believed we were "the perfect couple" and should get married, we were MEANT to be together!) I ignored the fact that he made fun of me and put me down constantly in front of our friends. I told myself it didn't matter that he had an ugly temper and was selfish and arrogant to a laughable degree. [In an argument, he once yelled at me, furious, "You know, a lot of girls would love to be going out with a guy like me, who has money and has a car like mine and a stereo and record collection like mine!" And he wasn't joking.] I downplayed the fact that he was not very intelligent, had no ambitions or self-discipline, and lacked talent yet thought he was King of Shit Heap, all because of the reinforcement that I believed and our friends and family believed (or, at least, told me) that we were MEANT to be together.

No one ever said precisely WHY we were meant to be together. I mean, "because you're such a cute couple" doesn't quite seem to cut it.

It's that same deal with the Hillster Couples. Love can conquer all! If you love him, it's okay! If you think you're MEANT to be together, you must be! Look at Donna and David. It doesn't matter that David was disgustingly abusive by way of emotional blackmail and violent, irrational temper, pressured Donna for sex for YEARS, cheated on her numerous times (including his first), has been in trouble with drugs more than once, STOLE MONEY from her, lied to her on many, many occasions, and has gotten involved with her friends/cousin when he's not involved with her (and this is overlooking is basic bad attitude, his sexism, and immaturity)... no, none of that mattered because David NEEDED Donna and she LOVED him and he said he LOVED her and THEY WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER! I remember when Felice was going off on how David wasn't "the man" (snicker!) for Donna because he had severe emotional problems and his father was a womanizer and cheater and his mother was schitzo and Donna gets all pissy and snips "Did you forget Jewish, Mom?" Um, Donna, your mom wasn't necessarily being an anti-Semite and trying to keep you and your star-crossed lover apart, you naive moron. She has a valid point about his past behavior! And then there's Donna's relationship with Noah, who has killed his girlfriend in a drunk-driving accident, had drinking problems since, plays with guns, won't take responsibility for his actions, RAPED VALERIE... yet they’re MEANT to be together and Donna LOVES him and wants to BE THERE for him! Right. And she said the same thing about Ray, white-trash, violent, control-freak Ray, who treated her like crap in front of her friends, told her how to dress (Donna's reaction, one of my all time favorite lines ever: "Look, just tell me how you want me to dress and I will!") and, in Donna's OWN WORDS to Kelly, was "mean" to her... "BUT I LOVE HIM!" she whimpered in conclusion (and Kelly the psych major had nothing to say about that?!)... all contributing to Major DumbAss Flashbacks on my part.

And speaking of Kelly, let's look at the Great Loves of her Life (because who cares if they were abusive or dysfunctional or unhealthy or whatever as long as it's romantically "the great loves of Kelly Taylor").... Dylan and Brandon. She's with Dylan (who she cheated with when he was going with HER BEST FRIEND!), who is brooding, materialistic and self-centered to the nth degree, is an alcoholic and drug addict, plays with guns, has no ambition, has major family issues, is irresponsible, chases after his father's killer, has a past history of cheating, has had unprotected sex ten zillion times, on and on... but HE AND KELLY ARE SOULMATES! He's had the past life regression to prove it! [Guys, a note: I can perform hypnosis. I can and have performed past life regression numerous times. I have been regressed numerous times. It is a fascinating experience and, I believe, a great window to the unconscious. Is it 100% fact?! Hell no! It proves nothing! Even if you DO feel strongly about your visions, I say it again, YOU WON'T KNOW FOR SURE UNTIL YOU ARE DEAD!] This "soulmate" shit is just out of control! Example: I used to be an office temp for a company that ran 900 numbers (yes, including the sex lines... no, I didn't talk on them), which I'll get into later. There were operators for one of the sex lines who worked in the same building, and we all shared a community break room, so these women (AND MEN!) would often meander over to visit on breaks. They liked to talk, and sharing the sagas of their lives was par for the course. I heard about conjugal visits with boyfriends, about partying, about fights and break-ups. One woman who left the company for about 5 months to move north with her boyfriend, came back after they split up. A few weeks later, HE was back, too, and they were living together. I heard about violent fights, beatings, police visits for reports of domestic violence. I heard about his drinking problem and time he spent in jail. I heard about her FIVE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER WHO WAS A WITNESS TO THIS! I got pissed (no surprise there) and wanted to know what the fuck she was doing with this guy, especially when she had a kid. She said - AND I QUOTE! - "Well, we're total soulmates when he's not drunk."

SHE WAS SERIOUS!

But back to Kelly.... So she has her heart's desire and is with Dylan. The majority of their relationship is spent fighting about whether he'll ever get over Brinda and if he'll ever stop brooding. Kelly is so insecure that she develops an eating disorder. They go to college and they establish that they have nothing in common besides sex. They're off again, no on again, no off again, no- And, in the course of it all, Kelly becomes attracted to Brandon (Dylan's best friend and Brinda's brother, for added dysfunction), whom she had a crush on in high school. Oooh! THEY must be MEANT to be together, if she had a crush on him and all! So Kelly cheats on Dylan with Brandon. Yeah, they didn't actually have sex... but they were still romantically/emotionally involved, which, IMHO, is one of the hallmarks of cheating (more on THAT later, too).

And Kelly eventually dumps Dylan for Brandon.

Kelly and Brandon. On again. Off again. On again... *sigh* And the whole time she's with Brandon, supposedly her heart's desire (at least this year), she's wondering what it would be like to be with Dylan. Why, she and DYLAN must be MEANT to be together-

CAN ANYONE ON THIS SHOW EVER LET GO OF AN OLD RELATIONSHIP!? I mean, WHO REALLY LIVES LIKE THAT? Breaking up = The End! Seriously, as much as I thought before that me and my h.s.b.f. were MEANT to be together, when he dumped me (and ended up with my best friend in a nice parallel with the Brinda/Dylan thing... although she's no Kelly, she was, in fact, a rampant slut), it took me exactly FOUR DAYS (and I have the journal entries to prove it) to get over him, not have any romantic feelings for him, and to know for sure that I would never ever ever get back together with him. I moved on. And (with the help of some counseling, too) I saw the whole "meant to be together" thing as the emotional crutch it was.

Amen.

So getting back to the Unhealthy Relationships dealies: Why is Dylan still with Gina? This really bugs me. I mean, he doesn't like her. He treats her like shit. But, according to Kelly, he's not being abusive or unethical or a dick... he just HASN'T FOUND THE RIGHT PERSON YET! If Hillster Guys use women for sex, they're tortured and lonely, but if a WOMAN (Valerie, Emma, even Janet's "casual sex" incarnation) uses a man - especially a Hillster man - for sex, well.... KABLAM! But because Dylan is so Tortured and Hurting, it's okay if he treats Gina like shit. And, hey, guys do that, don't they? They screw around. They lie. They don't want the emotional commitment that the girls are always pressuring them for - as Dylan said, Gina's "pushing too hard! Damn the bitch, anyway. Guys just want to go to strip clubs and drink and drive fast cars and watch sports and be like the Mighty Elephant and shop at sex stores and not have to deal with flowery bedspreads and wallpaper and candles and all that girlie stuff and not have to be responsible [okay, quickie interjection: you have to be responsible a LONG TIME before you get involved in a relationship!] and be able to hang out with their friends and play poker and put their feet on the furniture and not have to ever talk about how they FEEL for God's sake, and we ALL know that Girlies' main goals in their lives are to TAKE THESE THINGS AWAY FROM MEN! It's the battle of the sexes! It's fuh-nee! It's cute! Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus-

For fuck's sake. Everyone, let me tell you a little about The Husband-Type Man, who cooked, shopped, cleaned and did laundry long before I met him, can watch a football game without having to head-butt and hi-five people, who enjoys antiquing and even likes "foof"-shopping, who has picked out flowers he thinks are "beautiful" or "pretty," who gets out of sorts if he hasn't been able to express his feelings, who is an awesome cook, who has cried without hesitation in front of me and who has no problems showing how he feels and expressing himself, who can't fix a car to save his life, who has commented/corrected people on sexist behavior on a regular basis, who can't do household repairs or even put together IKEA furniture, who doesn't even NOTICE if I've gained or lost weight and thinks that skinny/tiny girl-women are unappealing, who said that There Eyes Were Watching God is one of the best books he's ever read, who buys Tori Amos and Sarah McLaughlin CDs and went to Lilith Fair, who was as involved as me with wedding planning because the wedding was about both of us, who picked out bed linens with me and is delighted with our new flowered comforter cover, who usually drinks diet Coke instead of regular (and I never drink diet Coke!), and who treats me with love and respect at all times, not just for show! Now let me tell you a little about me, a woman who hates clothes shopping and shoes and handbags and owns MAYBE four pairs of shoes at any given time (and two pair are sneakers), who has a very diverse music collection and hates sappy love songs, who has no desire to have kids any time soon if at all, who had no desire for a "Barbie Dreamhouse Wedding" and CERTAINLY never pressured/tricked or plotted to get THTM to "commit," who does not join in the husband-bashing conversations that my younger cousins think are so cute and funny (and are right along the lines of last night's "you're such a guy!" comment), and who does not watch talk show or soap operas. I am not saying this to try to convince anyone that I think me and THTM are, like, ÜberGnarly or anything... merely to point out to the Lurking Writers that these Estrogen/Testosterone relationship stereotypes are annoying, unhealthy, and, der, usually inaccurate. Think of the younger viewers, PLEASE!

Are me and The Husband-Type Man SOULMATES? Are we MEANT to be together? Whatever. Who cares? No, we do not psychically telecommunicate. No, he can't see his unborn children in my eyes. No, I don't "just know" that we were together in another lifetime. I DO know that we deeply love, respect and trust each other, that we hold similar values and ethics, that he is intelligent, dynamic, goofy and fun to be with, but also that he is responsible, trustworthy, honest and genuine. We don't fight because he "has the mentality of a 13-year-old" or "isn't detail-oriented." We didn't have to compromise our own value system in order to be together.

Writers, I would be so bold to say that that's closer to what "true love" is than cowboy dreams and rescue fantasies, than "we're so different we're alike!", than "you make me laugh" or "you've given me more happiness than disappointments."

F'Gawd's sake, how much more full of myself could I be?! I'll shut up now.

But along the same lines, why, once again, did we get the tired stereotypes of weddings and wedding planning being by women, for women? And the whole "dream wedding" based on fantasies you had "ever since you were a little girl"...? I mean, I'm only speaking for myself, but not only did I get riiiiilly sick of that mentality whilst wedding planning in real life (i.e. REAL LIFE, not "dreams from when I was a little girl"), but I'd also be very afraid if I was upset if ANYTHING didn't turn out the way I imagined from when I was a little girl. I mean, women get away with this "dream wedding" vision in general, but can you imagine an adult complaining about anything other than a wedding not being "like they dreamed when they were little" and getting away with it? "I'm sorry, Ms./Mr. Boss, but when I dreamed about working as a doctor when I was a little girl, it was nothing like this!" "Hi, um, kids? See, when I dreamed about having you when I was just a little girl, I didn't envision you being bad/having health problems/getting into trouble with drugs/shooting people at your high school, so can you, like, cut it out?" I mean, really.

Why was there that weirdly-focusing shot from Stevie sleeping on the couch to the creamer on the table?

Why are the Hillsters all playing musical houses again? Asian Claire's going from the beach house back to Casa Non-Walsh, Noah's going from Casa Non-Walsh to the beach house, Gina's out of Dylan's hotel back to David's house, where Dylan once lived.... Shouldn't someone on the show maybe invest in another house or apartment somewhere to deal with the overflow? It was like the scavenger hunt was some metaphorical game in reflection of who's-living-with-whom and who's-sleeping-with-whom what with all the team-switching.

And speaking of houses, LawyerBoy's going to be living with newlyweds Asian Claire and Stevie and their baby? What fun! I mean, I kinda don't think that people should get married until they're financially independent. Ditto for having a baby. So mebbe Stevie and Janet might want to, I don't know, GET THEIR OWN HOUSE?!?

Was the baby's new room the Former Room at Casa Walsh, or Brandon's old room? I couldn't tell. And, one more thing .... I'm not going to make any accusations about the whole Turning a Room at Casa Walsh Into A Baby's Room scene or anything, but... well... I give you excerpts from scene from Let's Write Our Own Episde/330 (posted Jun 8, 19:31...i.e. WAY pre-Janet's-pregnancy storyline):

Scene: the Former room of Casa Walsh. You know, former... Brinda's former room, Val's former room.... But now it has a newer, higher purpose, for Kelly "Mrs. Brandon" Walsh is running the show, decked out in her pseudo-grunge overalls and sleeveless flannel shirt, paint-splattered artfully... and now there's just a utility table with cans of paint and rollers and glue and a paint-splattered tarp and rolls of new wallpaper and ... Kelly's putting the finishing touches on a lovely blue-and-yellow Ultra Laura Ashely bunny and ducky wallpaper boarder, and the rest of the walls are blue and yellow sponge-painted and the whole room looks kinda like an Easter egg turned inside out and vomited upon by the Sunshine Fairy.... And Kelly in her Trendy Youthful Upper Middle Class Suburban Training-Matron overalls [says]... "C'mon, hurry, we've got to finish up things here! .... [W]e don't have much time!"

That's all I want to say.

No, I take that back.... I WILL commend the writers for having all this talk about green paint and sparing us the Skeevy Stevie Horny Green comments I wincingly anticipated.

So, Counterfeit Janet was a (Asian Claire) math major, huh? And was she at school when she got the job at the so-called Beat (where no one seems to really work anymore anyway)? Well, did she drop out? Graduate? When?

And speaking of no one working.... Why don't the writers at least PRETEND that Now Wear This is open more than a couple hours here or there by, um, maybe mentioning an additional sales staff other than Donna, Kelly and Gina. You know, a throw-away comment about how "so-and-so is opening the store today" "Yeah, I think she's [because it wouldn't be a guy, that'd be too much Sexual Tension] working out really well. I'm glad we hired her." Or that there's SOMEONE at the Beat doing SOMETHING: "I'm sure glad that new reporter we hired is taking care of interviews today so I can paint the baby's room!"

Okay... I've reduced this from a description-laden complaint to one simple sentence because I couldn't stand having to remember it: WHY WHY WHY DID WE HAVE TO SEE TOTALLY UN-FUH-NEE DONNANTICS ALL NIGHT?!?! Stop it, Tori! STOP IT!

And, speaking of the Scavenger Hunt, there were numerous levels of moronicacy (tm me) reached. F'instance:

  • The prize for the winner. I thought for sure the winners would get to be Steve and Counterfeit Janet's witnesses/BM&MoH or something.
  • The hunt was made up of "our friends"... didn't PodJanet have any FRIENDS OF HER OWN THAT SHE'D WANT TO INVITE TO HER WEDDING?!?! Like the bandmembers from the other week? Former classmates? I know, that'd mess up the whole Hillster Only exclusivity of it all, but still....
  • How and why did Stevie and Asian Claire plant all those clues at various places of business and NOT ATTRACT ATTENTION FROM THE EMPLOYEES?! Like they could manage to set up big balloons that say SCAVENGER HUNT in front of a mattress store, hide clues IN THE STORE UNDER A BED, and the [stereotypical caricature of a mattress-store] manager was totally oblivious?!
  • Since when is it a "felony" to steal Christmas decorations, LawyerBoy? Gee, you sure know your legal stuff! Wanna fight a case for me, Big White Bread Stud? WHY is LawyerBoy SUCH a total doofus?!
  • Would a cop really pull someone over for having an inflatable doll in the car? I mean, I can see if they were using it to get into the carpool lane on the 405 or something, but....
  • Um, re: the whole copy shop thing.... The staff at the place might be a weensy bit upset if you're standing on the copier... or sitting on it with your bare butt. And did the clue specify an address for the copy place? Because, like, there are TEN MILLION copy shops in LA. Trust me.
  • Why did even a Scavenger Hunt have to turn into a Donna Martin is a WINNER b.s.-fest? "My girl Donna" won, crows the old Christmas-decorated-house woman?! Uch.
  • And... the Christmas lights that decorated the wedding sight were "something borrowed"? Nice how those colored lights turned white when Nat got them all put up at the park in less than an hour or something, huh? And where was the tinsel?

And the wedding. Well, surprisingly, I wasn't as offended by it as I could've been. There was no "you're my best friend and we're meant to be together" in the vows (Do you think this is a coincidence?!). It was actually very pretty. In fact, the complaint that I have is that it was so quick that there was no time for it to be impacting. They rushed right into the vows and BAM! It was over. And I have to say, I anticipated Hijinx with Janet's ring not fitting on her puffy finger.

That doesn't mean I don't have a few Wedding Whys:

  • Why was Janet drinking champagne when she's pregnant?
  • Why was her veil all weirdly stiff and sticking up?
  • Why would Rush Sanders be on a SINGLES CRUISE? I'd think he'd have, like, an expensive dating service or something. I know, I know, we can't have parents intruding on a Hillster Wedding.
  • Why, of course, did we get the Typical crap with the GIRL crying at the wedding and SHE being "Mrs. Sanders" now and all that stuff. And why did we get the Married ÜberCouple stuff, like now that they're married, Steve and Janet represent All That a Relationship Can and Should Be. Everyone wants to "end up like Steve and Janet." (Kelly, um "I WANT THAT?!?" Shut up!!) Folks, I have it on good authority... and I have examples to back me up! ... that Married does not = Happy! Stop it! STOP IT! STOP IIIIIIT!

Okay, On to Andrew the Gay Other. It's appropriate that this was the storyline after last Sunday's Gathering in which me, Gustave, Sars and screamin' watched the old Gay KEG President episode, complete with Lucas-like applause of Great Acceptance at the end. I'm just glad that the homosexual community has Hillsters to stick up for them, to swing bats and file complaints and speak out at frat meetings and write newspaper articles and all that.

What was with Dylan's oh-so-sensitive "don't you have an obligation to the gay community" remark to Andrew... especially after Dylan had oh-so-altruistically bagged his OWN community obligations by not volunteering at the Beverly Glen Youth Center?! (p.s. just remember, I posted my episode about Dylan and community involvement first!) I guess the gays and blacks and Latinos and underprivileged children need the Hillsters to, as Andrew said, "take a stand" for them. But I'm only repeating something that xix expressed eloquently in his Wrap-Ups. Speaking of xix, that whole "and she saw our one-bedroom apartment" bit sure sounded a lot like his wrap-up/NYD thing when he came out to his dad.

Frankly, I find it hard to believe that in Southern California, anyone could get away with as overt an act as firing someone because they are gay. Even if they work with kids. I mean, LA is one of the most liberal cities in this country. I'm not dumb enough to suggest there isn't extreme discrimination, because there is. But I think that Patsy couldn't be quite so overt about her firing Andrew. Gee. Can't WAIT to see what they're going to do with poor old Andrew the Needy Gay Other next, but it's SURE to be groundbreaking and thought-provoking!

And one last thing to bitch about.... Lap-dancing: is it or isn't it cheating?

You probably guessed I'd have an opinion on this, huh? Back to that stint when I temped at an office for a company that ran 900#s....

Prior to my job, I was of the opinion that phone sex was gross, but, when I got the temp job, I needed the money and it was the only place that would work around my school schedule. Besides, it wasn't as if I was doing phone sex, or was even in the same room, or same part of the building, as the people who were. I was just taking customer service phone calls. And besides, as Noah argued last night, these women (and men) are trying to earn a living any way they can. They aren't the victims... they made the choice to do this kind of job. I told myself not to be so judgmental, to give these people a break.

After nine months and meeting dozens and dozens of phone-sex operators (very high turnover rate for employees), I'm not too convinced about the validity of that old argument. First off, let me clarify, since I have an uncle who owns one of the most popular strip clubs in LA (say hi to Charlie "Charles" Sheen, everyone!), I know that strippers can make considerably more than the average phone sex operator... or the average office temp. But there were still operators who claimed that this was the only way that they could support their families, blah blah blah.... Folks, they made $7 and hour, and about $10-$20 dollars a day in "bonuses" for keeping a customer on the line for more than 15 minutes. You'd make more as a McDonald's manager. I MADE MORE AS THE OFFICE TEMP!

Anyway, I wrote my observations to a penpal friend, a compilation of which I present here (it even includes the "soulmate" stuff):

There's just no effort towards self-improvement, education, self-discovery … and I'm not talking going to college, or things that would cost money. But rather, there is a sense that most of the women (and men) are content to let their current boyfriend do the supporting, a sort of "whatever" attitude about life, constant complaining about the position they're in but with no effort to change it, a lack of self-respect as well as lack of respect for their "significant others"…. I simply cannot fathom the mind set of some of my co-workers. I'm often tempted to ask them "Did you hear what just came out of your mouth? Are you listening to what you're saying? Do you realize what you're telling people?" I think the core problem is a lack of self-esteem....

I have to confess, after several months of objective observing, my notions about low-class and white-trash people haven't changed or been challenged much. The things I hear about the values and ethics of some of these girls/women blow my mind. It makes me sad and angry at myself that I'm seeing these people and their lifestyles/actions in such a class-hierarchy type of way, but on the other hand, I can't ignore that their values and lifestyles are a direct result of their upbringing. I can't count the number of times I've heard variations of dialogues like "God, I hate my boyfriend so much. . . he's such an asshole. . .he ___ (fill in the blank with: hit me, is in jail, came home drunk again, was selling drugs again, etc.) . . ." "Well, why don't you dump him?" I usually ask. "Oh, we're moving into a new apartment next week, and I couldn't afford it on my own" or "I showed him. I fucked his best friend" or "He's gonna buy me a car." One particular gem, overheard today, was uttered from a woman with a 5-year-old daughter who moved back down to LA to get away from her alcoholic boyfriend . . . All we heard for the first couple weeks was what a loser he was and how glad she was to get away . . . Today, she says he (or, as she now calls him, "her sweetie,") is moving down here so they can get an apartment together, and they're engaged and- "We're total soulmates, except for when he's drunk." I swear.

So many of these girl-women seem incredibly hardened, incredibly dumb, or usually both. It's not just that they are in unhealthy/dysfunctional/abusive relationships, but they usually have no personal ambition, either. One is barely 19, and her boyfriend lives with her and her mom. She dropped out of high school, and has little (if any) real desire to get her diploma. She tells me all the time that she hates her boyfriend (he was an ex that she got back with after breaking up with another ex), but is moving out with him this spring. She's very proud of the fact that she "made" him buy her a second-hand car and that he no longer hits her because she regularly "kicks his ass." She calls him from work several times during her shift, first to wake him up, then to tell him to do something for her, then to tell him what they're doing tonight, then to argue with him about it, then to see if he's still mad, then- She also has the foulest mouth; surely she has a larger vocabulary than "that's the bomb" and variations on the word "fuck"? And she's always "bored" here at work; she either plays solitaire or doodles on the paint program on the computer when she isn't making phone calls. I mean, we have internet access, for Gawd's sake! If I'm not reading/studying/ working on papers, I can research anything on there, or just look up things on literary theory or Grad schools, or fun stuff like Duran and 90210 [note: this is how and when I discovered Mediarama].She occasionally looks up General Hospital web pages. She never brings in books; sometimes a copy of a tabloid, or the Sunday paper for all the sales ads. (Actually, I'm about the only person here who does bring in books regularly.) Sometimes one of the operators brings in a paperback romance (and I mean the kind sold monthly at the grocery store). But reading material consists of the tabloids and magazines: mostly Glamour, People and Cosmo, but also very popular are the "True" magazines . . . True Romance, True Love, True Whatever. I looked at 'em once. Once. The "romance" story "Raped, Pregnant and Paralyzed" made me ill. There are also a fair share of x-rated mags that make the rounds. Hey, gotta keep up on fantasy ideas for the callers, right?

My personal favorite amongst the Dumb Bimbos is the girl who was born in a trailer park in Arkansas. . . and fulfills every stereotype contained therein. She's 300+ lbs., dyed-blond and slutty. Her favorite hobby is "partying" (in fact, she's protesting the fact that monitors have to work at least 2 out of 3 weekend shifts… she feels she should be able to party Fri., Sat., AND Sun. night!). Best of all, she is most attracted to "convicts, because they've had all this time to work out, so they're cut, and they're horny, perverted and like to party." She think the "bald and tattooed" look is attractive! What does that connote? Can you say "no self esteem whatsoever?" Now, let's think about the fact that she will undubiously reproduce with these cut, perverted convicts. Today she asked me if I was a virgin! "Are you waiting until you're married? You seem the type." Okay. And this was even knowing Dan and I live together. I think she's probably not the sharpest tool in the shed. She and the aforementioned operator are friendly, or have mutual friends or something. I often overhear them talking about friends of theirs who just had baby number 2, 3, etc. at age 20. Yesterday it was the girl who had 3 kids already (by at least 2 different fathers) and had moved on to a new guy (ex-con) and was pregnant with twins. She's 20.

But I think what I find most disgusting about this service, this whole place, is that it not only caters to the unhealthy (and abusive) behaviors of the callers (and employees), but it ENCOURAGES it. Yes, there is a market for phone-sex, and yes, it makes tons of money and it's legal and all that, but how can you rationalize the fact that you may have some guy calling up who wants his phone "actress" to be submissive and weak so that he can get off on it (or, shall we say, get off on feeling powerful)... and then he wants to play the same "games" with his girlfriend/wife/live-in, associating sexual pleasure with power... all stemming from the fact that he was abused as a kid and felt weak himself then... etc., etc. That not only ignores the problem, but it encourages the problematic/abusive behavior to continue - maybe even in an ongoing cycle of abuse. Like, Dominant Man and Wimpy Girl have a kid. Dominant Man was raised to believe that semi-quasi- (or even outright-) abusive behavior is acceptable parenting technique. So you end up with kids who are (once again) raised in a home that is emotionally hostile due to a father who screams and yells (is "authoritative" or "strict") and a mother who is passive and won't intervene. Or, better yet, DM has a daughter, and associates his dominant fathering tactics with the same "control" he gets off on in his sex life, and - bingo! - instant child molestation! I suppose my point is that even though the "illegal" sexual behavior isn't encouraged by the monitors, it still can prompt the same sort of potentially-dangerous situations.

My point? It's going to take a lot to convince me that ANYONE involved in the sex industry is not a victim of something and is acting out because of that. I'm not going to swallow the "just trying to earn a living" argument so easily.

Is lap-dancing cheating? If it's done without your spouse's knowledge, if you're sneaking or hiding it, if you know it would upset them, then yes, it is. Did it bother me when The Husband-Type Man's friends dragged him to a strip club and paid for a lap-dance for his bachelor party Lost Weekend in Vegas? No. Then again, THTM doesn't have a history of sexist behavior and/or cheating on me. And I knew about it. Did it bother THTM when I met Simon LeBon and plotzed all over the place when he kissed me twice (once per cheek)? No. If I'd locked lips with the man and gone for a grope to assure myself he never wears underwear... that'd be different. Bottom line: I feel that any kind of sexual behavior AND/OR intimacy, especially if it is behind your spouse's back, is cheating.

I'd like to, at this time, point out Davy's absolutely MORONIC statement of "My daddy looked at a naked girl so Kelly's mommy kicked him out." Why can't I smack Davy upside the head? With that baseball bat of Dylan's?

Oh, and speaking of Dylan, why didn't anyone notice his wrist brace (well, except Kelly)? WHY WAS HE WRITING AND DRINKING USING HIS SUPPOSEDLY SPRAINED WRIST?

And, finally, oh, oh... DYLAN AT KELLY AND BRANDON'S WEDDING?! WHAT-FUCKING-EVER!

I'm done now. Promise. Really.

Could Dwanollah BE any more full of herself? Or long-winded?

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