One of the simple pleasures of my marriage is how The Mister makes fun of me for being a snob. He says I’m a Northside snob and a food snob and a sheet/blanket/pillow snob and an art snob as well as a city slicker and a grammar Nazi. You can’t rely on him to tease honestly: he often says my nose is big, specifically, he refers to it as my truffle finder. Obviously this is all relative and he’s not a reliable narrator because his own nose is fit to seat birds. I’m not sayin it’s like Cyrano’s, but it is rather noble, okay?
Anyway, most of this teasing is based on our socio-economic differences when we were kids. Here, the other side of the tracks is the other side of the interstate, and I lived on the more fortunate side. This is not my fault and he cuts me no slack for being the poorest person among my well-to-do friends. My parents were never rich enough to believe in the entitlement of children, poor me.
Since I wasn’t spoiled with luxurious goods, and had to work to earn my own spending money, my friendships tended to gravitate toward the other side of the interstate where lifestyles were more like my own
with people who did not charge a $1500 ski trousseau to their daddy’s credit card.
The gap between our families was not large.
About 30 blocks. He was 38th-47th St and I was about 75th.
My 75th St life involved my mother (legions of mothers) telling us “Nice girls don’t cross 38th Street after dark.”
I was never a nice girl, and I quickly learned that if I took I-70W I could be downtown without ever technically crossing 38th Street.
I often wonder how my mother felt when The Mister and I moved south of 38th Street for awhile…
That was The Hood. And lemme tell you, it was fiiine. We had Mr & Mrs Brown on one side, and yeah, we did have a screaming racist hermit from Tennessee on the other side, but hey, she was hardly ever out…Then we had Mildred, the youngest old lady ever, right across the street, with her roses and cacti and well, I loved her. The only hood shit that ever happened was when someone stole a pack of cigarettes off our front porch. Not exactly terrifying. Trying to wheel strollers and wagons over sidewalks that hadn’t been tended in 40 years was far more dangerous.
By then I had found The Hood refreshing. By then The Mister and I had already lived in the posh prison of suburban subdivisions upwards of 144th, where everyone was house rich and cash poor, their secret shame well-hidden by the tinted glass of their ubiquitous SUVs.
By then we had lived off 75th Street.
By then I had lived on the outskirts of Broad Ripple where I was known to barhop, dine, and play in the park — even after dark when it was closed. Ooh! My social life took me all over the city. I never knew a guy, but my friends always seemed to know a guy who knew a guy and we took every one of those opportunities.
Yes, I’d babysat for No-Names-Dropped-Here, I’d traveled quite a bit and I’d lived in several different sorta places. I’d eaten a ton of ‘rare and exotic’ food. I’d gotten around and could be said, by Indianapolis standards, to have seen and done my fair share of cultural anthropological studies from the highest and lowest of places in the adventure that is my life. I was anxious then, too, although I didn’t know it. I’d learned to follow my instinct and prided myself in a good gut worth listening to.
In contrast, The Mister emerged from his conservative background, where he plunged deeper still into the military and well below the Mason-Dixon line. He’d been a brief tourist and sometimes an interloper in foreign lands. He didn’t collect matchbooks or shot glasses. Most of his inner visual postcards are scenes I’d like him to keep to himself. He did not develop a good gut. Instead, he was taught a very specific set of skills. *snort* Sorry, but there’s no better way to say it.
So when we travel together, The Epicurean says, “Ooh, let’s stop here!” along with “Try this!” and “Let’s dance!” and “I wonder what’s down that way?” and “I wanna get a picture of that!”
The Stoic inflates his aura like a frilled lizard or maybe more like a dinosaur, and uses his cleverly shifting reptile eyes to scan for potential threats.
Once he has determined the environment is safe enough for his mate, he instructs her on how to exit the vehicle and in which direction to walk. Sometimes she must go first, with him protecting from the rear, and other times, he must forge their way. Without him there to guide her, she would probably open the door willy-nilly, roll out, jeté to the roadside peach stand, and throw money at people without a single thought to the life-threatening forces lying in wait — you know, like farmers, kids, brown paper bags.
In an urban environment, The Mister’s radar can fill up the entire interior of a car. I didn’t notice this until we were in Baltimore one day. It was my perception that we were in a charming little neighborhood of row houses, but apparently we were at the crossroads of Terror and Murder and stopping to pee in such a vicinity was strictly verboten.
In our own city, we encounter these differences on a nearly constant basis.
When we were shopping for a home, he was a total school district snob. He’d say the kids couldn’t go to IPS (Indianapolis Public Schools.) I’d roll my eyes and pout about the adorable bungalows I couldn’t have. Then he’d tell me for the umpteenth time how he was jumped by a group of kids when he went to IPS. He’d tell me I didn’t know.
Crazy Peppy blonde sophomore attacked seventh grade me in my own suburban front yard, so I’d roll my eyes and say things like “pedestrian lifestyle.”
When we decided to live in the district we graduated from he had strong opinions about that as well. We had to find a house on HIS side of the bridge, and definitely on HIS side of the main street. Well la-di-fucking-da! No one, and I do mean no one, could tell you how HIS sides of these places were better, but whatever. Our house is not on HIS side of the bridge. His snobbery about the other side of the main street did work out for him, though. Except, one day after we’d moved in, we drove through there, and I said, “Geeeeee, these sure are nice houses. Lots of basements and brick over here. Smaller lots, but prolly valued higher than ours…” but I said it all sweetly and not at all bitchily sarcastic or anything, y’all know how I do.
Then there was the whole Central Avenue thing. Epicurean Snobs of the 75th Street sort know that Central Avenue boasts some fine homes and is close to delicious foodie havens. Stoic Lizards hailing from 38th Street recall rundown apartment buildings and illegally employed men on its corners. It’s just a matter of numbers.
So when they’re leaving one of their delicious foodie havens and The Epicurean Snob tells the Stoic Lizard she’d like to take a DoorScursion down Central Avenue, he says things like, “You are not going to walk up and down Central Avenue.”
Of course I did.
I will continue that story
later in the morning
when I get up.