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Thursday, November 30, 2017

GLITTER AND ROUGE

   To borrow from Woody Allen, I'd hate to be thought of as a sadistic, hippophilic necrophile, because that would be like beating a dead horse. On the other hand, this may be an appropriate time to restate the obvious inasmuch as the obvious appears to have escaped the cognition of a great many. Doubtless you know the names of most of the accused and some of the personalities attached to those names may have struck you as unlikely candidates for engaging in female exploitation. The two big fields of  focus at the moment are entertainment and politics (it was Frank Zappa, I believe, who pointed out that politics is merely the entertainment division of the military industrial complex, so perhaps these two fields are not so far apart). And while the military and business office have long been known to turn blind eyes towards exactly the type of rancid behavior we now stand aghast at in Hollywood and Washington, the glitter and the rouge forever outranks even multi-starred generals, much less the white-collared executive at the Department of Redundancy Department at your school or place of work. 
   This being an essay about the inclinations of others towards aberrant behavior, it feels manifestly appropriate that I begin by talking about myself. Specifically, I will speak of ego and the role that vicious monster stages for itself in the heart, mind and loins of anyone who gets what he or she wants out of life.
   As a high school senior, I already knew I had talent as a writer. Doses of feedback from friends and faculty reinforced what I instinctive suspected. I was good--not great; not yet. But I was onto something and figured I'd give it the old high school try. One weekend I got drunk on Mogen David ("America's classic wine") and wrote several one-page fictional vignettes about some popular classmates. I showed them to a friend who knew none of these kids and he laughed himself to streaming tears. "Hot damn!" thought I, and stumbled off to get a bunch of copies made and stapled together.
   All day Monday I passed the sheets around and was rewarded with positive reactions ranging from wide grins of appreciation to hearty guffaws culminating in enthusiastic slaps on the back. "Shit, Mershon! You write this? This is funny stuff, man. You got the get down spirit. Fuckin' hilarious."
   Naturally I could not leave well enough alone and within days I found myself suspended for an offensive poem I had knocked out in ten minutes regarding the culinary habits of a certain universally disliked English teacher. But even she came up later and sotto voce inquired if next time I might write something about her that was, um, er, a tad more flattering. Even she knew I was good. Hypocrite.
    Soon enough I had evolved into a nebbish example of what a more distant generation would have termed a class clown. That was fine with me. My fortitude was limp enough that damned near any type of validation was welcome. But the rub lay in the inescapable fact that it is not always an easy or convenient thing for the class clown to get laid. I do not care if the male is sixteen or eighty-nine. Part of his image of himself resides in how he perceives himself through the eyes of the important women in his life. Three places reinforce this insecurity: Hollywood, Washington and high school-college. All three segments tend to glorify the schmuck. All three place image over substance. And all three have as their inner core essence an eventual meaninglessness that is so minute that today, if it were floating in my toilet, I would not even bother to flush it. All I wanted at the time was for some hot young thing to pierce me with her gaze, see through the mask of comedy and, placing her hands on my shoulders prefatory to the wettest kiss this side of the Dolphin pool at Sea World, say unto me, "Baby, even standing still you make my skin sweat."
    As I say, enjoying sexual congress (much less senatorial or judiciary) appeared  a bit remote as such options went. However, one of the young women classmates of mine also worked with me after school and as virginity was a cross neither of us cared to continue, we sort of did one another a favor and over night I turned into a swaggering (albeit skinny and awkward) man of the world. 
   My personal situation will resonate with a lot of guys and just like those guys it all sort of came and went and soon enough came responsibilities and most of us got on with our lives. 
   This is not what happened with Bill Cosby, Al Franken, Roy Moore and Solomon, among others. (That's right. In case it slipped some minds, Solomon had more than one thousand wives in his harem.) (And while I'm being parenthetical, Mark Twain, in the guise of Lucifer, reported his amusement that men dream of multiple partners, yet are incapable of satisfying even one, while women, who are more than able to writhe in sexual joy for days at a time, have little interest outside of monogamy.) These are among the men who, let's face it, were never going to be thought of as classically handsome and beyond doubt recognized that about themselves early in life. Their ability to make any type of major relationship coup was dependent upon them being successful in a field that would radiate some degree of glitter and rouge. All of a damned sudden a pudgy little guy with funny hair and glasses and a distinctly nasal whine could get a date and, after a while, even a wife. 
   But it was not enough, just as Solomon's concubines were not enough. Because the insecurities borne from being less than hunkish right out of the womb--those hesitations and self-doubts don't go away. Most of us learn to accept ourselves and smile with some embarrassment at our earlier fixations. But most of us don't have the power associated with being a comedian, actor, studio mogul or politician. 
   What I am saying is that the real deep down reason all successful men are successful has less to do with their talent or their ability to sense great opportunities than it does with their insatiable need to be accepted by every woman they meet. Mix an ego that is on life support with great talent and awareness and you are building an equation that often enough equals sexual prerogatives that only the man recognizes as his own. 
   It does not even matter that some of these men (Kevin Spacey and Matt Lauer come to mind) are moderately attractive. What matters is how these men saw themselves when they were boys. Yes, sure, some serial abusers such as the President were given the idea from childhood that women were simply put out there to be had and that he would somehow not quite be doing his duty if he didn't grab as much action as he could. But look again at those early pictures of Trump in military school. What a freak! "Hey, honey. My schlong is so impressive, believe me, that the Mohel wouldn't even touch it. Not that we were Jewish, you understand, but all the young Hebrews in the neighborhood, all of them friends of ours, believe me, they called up the brit milah people and most of them passed out from the sheer size of the thing and now--Jesus, ow it comes wrapped in hundred dollar bills, I'm telling you!" What matters is how programmed the kid is in believing that (a) daddy is the uber mensch, and (b) "number one ain't you/You ain't even number two."
   Please do not sympathize with these creatures. They deserve whatever scorn, ridicule and prison sentences they can get. But if we actually want to understand how this kind of barbarism happens, look no farther than the things most people are taught to embrace from diapers: glitter and rouge. 

   

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