Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

Archive for August 19th, 2007

The parable of the Cosmo girl and the NYC boy

Posted by digglahhh on 19 August 2007

About a week and a half ago my friend called me at work and asked if I wanted to go out for drinks with him and a few of his co-workers after work. He works in Finance, and probably makes something north of double my salary. When I met the group, he said that they had decided to check out an outdoor bar nearby; they had never been there, but heard good things. “We’ll go for a drink, if we don’t like it, we’ll hit an old reliable spot.” Fine by me; we were off.

My friend said that the first round was on him, he ordered two lagers and the bartender told him it was $14. At that point I asked the bartender when the Mets were due to arrive. Seven dollar beers need to come with a professional baseball game, but he didn’t get the joke and stared back at me blankly, his freshly groomed eyebrows partially raised. I made it clear to my friend that if we decided to stay, I would buy him back for the next round and then leave; I’m not drinking seven dollar beers.

While standing by the bar, his co-worker approached, looking fresh out of college. She proceeded to order a Grey Goose dirty martini. The price was something ridiculous, thirteen dollars, if I remember correctly. That began an exchange that I find humorous, and my friend characterizes as a reason why he’s always reluctant to bring me around his co-workers. It went something like this:

Digglahhh: Ouch!

Presumed avid TMZ reader co-worker: What?

D: That’s a lot of money for a drink.

PATRCW: Oh, you’ll get used to it, how long have you been in the city?

D: Um, roughly since before you were born. I’ve been drinking in this city since you were passing notes that said “Do you like me? Check box, yes or no.”

Yes, I was mean. And, yes, I meant to be. Don’t give me anything about not giving her a chance; fuck people like this! People come to be big city and think getting fucked over like a tourist is part of the experience, and that I’m some uninitiated hick because I don’t bend over for some top shelf (but pedestrian) liquor at a faux-chic NYC bar. Let me assure you sweetie, there is nothing NYC-ish about getting economically exploited because you are unable to process the notion that Carrie Bradshaw and the gals were fictional characters. Furthermore, there’s something highly ironic about being cool with dropping thirteen bucks on a drink, and assuming the naivete of somebody who finds that ridiculous.

To some, everything is a status symbol, on one level or another. The Yuppie lifestyle, admixed with capitalist competitiveness, is a bright orange blinking sign flashing “Rip Me Off,” and the victims seem to relish wearing it, perhaps because they derive some sort of pathological validation of success from it. Being able to afford thirteen dollar drinks is seen an affirmation of your financial status, not of your gullibility, stupidity, or shallow nature. When I say that our culture is poisoned and that voting can’t even begin to rectify the dysfunctional programming of our society, this is the type of behavior that I am referring to. On small scales, you can see it non-stop, every single day.

One of the things that makes capitalism an endless treadmill to nowhere is the fact that everything begins to inherit status value. As people climb the economic ladder, they simply raise their standard of living at the same rate, meaning they are still reliant upon their well-paying job to support their lifestyle, and fail to gain nearly as much financial stability as they could. There has to be a reason to keep playing the game when you don’t have to anymore. Enter two hundred dollar theatre tickets, 30,000 annual tuition bills from school churning out twenty-two year old girls comfortable with thirteen dollar drinks (aspiring to be forty year old women comfortable with four hundred dollar haircuts), and the myriad other forms of commodity fetishism, and the treadmill gets them to work 65 hour weeks to achieve such “dreams.”

Luckily, nobody was particularly attached to the place, and once my friend’s girlfriend met up with us, we decided to head elsewhere. We finished the evening at a dive bar that offered five dollar, 32oz beers – much more our style. His co-worker nursed mixed drinks, but seemed to be having a fine time. At the end of the evening we stumbled into a cab, which he proceeded to expense to his employer. Employees at his job are supposed to be in at 8:30 in the morning. The next morning, he called me at about a quarter after nine, just to tell me that his coworker wasn’t in yet.

Here’s something they need to teach you in the boondocks, homegirl. You show up and work hard in the morning, no matter how hard you partied the night before.

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