Sunday, April 15, 2007

13 going on 30

I was at a bar mitzvah this weekend. Excuse me, I was at an ostentatious display of wealth, posing as a bar mitzvah this weekend. I was there, not as a guest, but as entertainment: singing for my supper, as it were.

Hired to dance, I found myself spending more time doing mental push-ups: fielding questions from horny 13 year olds, and having my teen-pop culture trivia challenged. Due to my perpetual struggle with a Rip Van Winkle-esque quest for enlightenment and media fasts, I was sorely lacking in my relatable topics. Since when, I asked myself, had the quality of conversation been contingent merely on consumerism? The pattern of these conversations were painfully traceable and remarkably similar to boarding school.

Approach. Introduction. Some interest in what I have to say. Try to impress them with my career. Ok. I got their attention. They ask for proof. “Tell me a joke” they say, one after another. The pattern is always the same. The answers change. As the night goes on, it gets better. My teen culture answers.

What the hell am I doing? If I show that I’m up on the trivia, I will be “accepted”, which means ‘ka-ching!’ at the end of the night and more events where I’m booked. At what price, though? Will I have to now go back and listen to the hideous music, watch the denigrating shows and learn the limited dialogue? This was the reason I went to sweat lodge to begin with. To purge myself of all of these illusions.

Something is different and wrong with the new generation, I thought. Children fed on the milk of instant gratification grow in to spoiled and materialistic adults. Housed in the gentrified neighborhoods of privilege, are nary concerned about ground water issues. Clothed with the sweat of third-world country children, they can never be truly be concerned about the world around them. Supplemented with a stream of gossip posed as news, have no choice but to be obsessed with celebrity. This is my generation.

The hostess is wearing a designer gown. She is a social x-ray. Painfully thin and over tanned, she runs around with a Di Vinci porcelain veneer smile, coordinating with the MC to hand out party favors, which are PSP’s. One child is complaining, “Can I change this for an ipod, I already have one of these?”

There is a mocktail hour. Mini alcoholics in training. Out of a sea of blue blazers and khakis, one child with an impish grin and flat Asian features and spikey hair, stands out. One of the children says, “Well, this one has no opinion on this subject. He’s poor.” All of the children laugh cruelly and say, “It’s true. He’s poor. Aren’t you?” He nods, dutifully, and answers the same. Immediately, I’m reminded of Kenny, the impoverished character in the SOUTH PARK cartoon. They have no idea what that is.

After a DREAM GIRLS show, the time approaches, again, to face off with these little turds. One brags of a party he went to in absentia of parental supervision. “The house was trashed and the parents arrived to a child peeing on the wall in the living room!” Another one whines, “I didn’t appreciate Devon taking a picture of my butt.” Yet another is in the bathroom, crying, because she defended her friend and the boy called her a tattle telling ‘douche’. She does not know what that word means, but bawls, “I’m so embarrassed. I feel as if I ruined your party and you are going to be mad at me.”

Recommitting to my conversational agenda, I realize that I am being paid to talk to children who are 13 going on 30. They emulate their parents by conversing about yachting this summer in the Riviera and Hillary Duff. Very close to giving up, I look around the room. I see the “poor” Asian child looking as sad as I feel. I approach him and whisper in his ear, “You may be poor in material wealth, but you are rich in the experience of being a survivor. Don’t ever forget that!” I walk away, and I see a group of children surround him. Later, he is on the dance floor and they are chanting his name while he raps an Eminem song. I may have to take my own advice.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

posted by Rumi @ 4/15/2007 08:25:00 PM |


<< Home