mercoledì, settembre 07, 2016

All these blow jobs will be lost in time, like tears in the rain

So I'm about 53 years late to this question but "Please Please Me" is totally about oral sex reciprocity, right? All these questions, answers lost to history, mouldering eventually in arts programmes in universities where strange pasty scholars spend whole, deeply unsatisfying and poorly paid careers speculating about the motives of the dead.

My undergrad college is celebrating its 20th anniversary in a couple of weeks with a big reunion do. It's funny; while I was there I was sure I was going to be a professional academic. There was a tug-of-war over me between the history section and the comparative lit section, over where I should go for my master's. Berkeley? U of T? And then - what? Lots of marijuana, a move to Europe - which at the time just felt like a way to put off a decision over the two to a clearer season - and then Spliffe's Wild Years, which I rounded off doing a master's in something completely different and much more . . . useful? That's arguable. But I'd probably be pretty good at taking over other people's countries now, compared to most people, which feels like a skillset that might be handy in these turbulent times.

So obviously I'm not going to the reunion. I'm in my last trimester, in the wrong hemisphere, and I'm not sure I'd go even if it was around the corner. We were a tight-knit group in a college that had just been founded - we started in its second year - and we did about 40% of our classes together, mostly lived together, mostly hung out together. And some of my dearest enduring friendships are with other people in that college. Which is probably the main reason I don't want to go to the reunion. I didn't lose touch with or drift away from anybody I want to be in touch with. Except the professors, and the ones I'd want to see again are no longer there.

But while it's happening, I'll think about it. Raise some sort of mental toast to Spliffe That Was, a curious young poser who expected to be underpaid and precariously employed most of her adult life, and who thought that Petrarch's influence on John Donne was a burningly important question relative to whether or not John Lennon was yelling at some woman to actually go down on him, for a change. She was fine, that Spliffe. But I'm glad she turned into me. 

4 commenti:

aglaiketstirk ha detto...

Bitter sweet to read. Made me smile the wry smile we smile when we're old and look back on the young us.

I was too odd and earnest and social phobic to enjoy University. I had a working class (remember I come from the country that invented class so this fucking mattered) chip a mile wide on my shoulder - it weighed me down. It especially weighed my tongue. So I didn't speak for at least 3 years. It was too late when I found a way to speak. I made a female pal - only one pal - because I had immersed myself in DH Lawrence and thought sex was a religious experience and that I had to have a man to be complete. (Oh fuck I cannot believe I am admitting any of this).

I stumbled through a law degree straight from the MA(hons). I hated every minute.

I wanted to be an academic. But I needed someone to tell me I was any good because I'd been taught it was arrogant to presume you were any good before someone told you...

Arrggghhhhh!!!!

I graduate in November with the Masters (Distinction -and the Law Dept want me for a PhD - so I at least now I get to feel ok about saying I'm 'any good').

It's a funny old life.

I just hope my weans are better than me at 'life'...


Oral sex reciprocity? What the fuck is that?

(You'd likely have scared me - I needed the 10+ yrs start on you :-D)

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Oral sex reciprocity = I go down on you, you go down on me = please please me, oh yeah, like I please you.

There's a fighting chance we would have got along splendidly in university, but also a fighting chance we would have ignored each other for four years. I doubt I would have scared anybody who I wasn't trying to fuck. I was a maladapted, self-hating troll who only had a social life that occasionally blossomed into really enduring friendships because of the patience/captive audience/shared interest in drugs of the other people in my college, and their occasional amusement with my vitriol, which conversationally was about all I produced, and there wasn't much even of that. Not much has changed, TBH, except the self-hate and drugs.

(And I had internalized DH Lawrence too, though the main effect of that on me was to decide that all sex and romance was probably going to be ultimately anticlimactic. 20 years after reading it I watch adaptations of "Lady Chatterley's Lover" and get baffled when the endings are sexy and rose-toned instead of fading out into epistalotory resignation to the emotionally inevitable and England's utter decline.)

Of course I can't imagine how class would fit into this because every time I go back to Blighty or even have an extended conversation with a British person, the place starts feeling like a mined field where I can see the warning signs but not the safe path through it, and it doesn't seem to be doing anybody any good at all if they aren't that tiny, tiny slice right at the top of the pile, and they seem like miserable cunts. It drives me nuts. It doesn't help to be acutely conscious that because of the class thing, I wouldn't exist if my family was British (or rather, had remained British). On both a socio-economic identity and actually physically existing level.

Your post makes me sort of happy about North America's "rah rah you're so great little undergrad tiger atta write an essay without spelling mistakes" academic culture. I needed it.

And I don't know, you seem to be winning at life.

aglaiketstirk ha detto...

For a long time I visited other countries and simply assumed they all had the same class structure thing going on.

I think some (maybe most?) do.

Or at least it's measurement of worth or social status based on relative or comparative affluence...

It's all just the judgy judginess crap that acts as a shorthand - we assess according the the social rules we've internalised - in-group/out-group...

I really envy you the 'rah rah you're so great' Uni culture. I needed it too. But jeez it was all about dissing and pissing on undergrads. I love my parents dearly - but they thought all criticism was 'constructive' (it really wasn't) - so that is all I lived with. They wonder now why I am never truly content with anything very much... (I am laughing).

I take back the 'fear' statement - I'm pretty sure in a small college we'd have been close friends - or as close as Lawrentian women could possibly be. I swear I included that very line in a dissertation about 'Lawrence's Religion of the Blood' - watching adaptations and feeling cheated.

Now I need to go for my daily walk. I've been averaging 10km this last month - 12km yesterday. Think I need new hips and ankles...

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

You're right, there's a class structure everywhere, or at least everywhere I've been around long enough to notice it. One of my biggest pet peeves with Australia was the conviction people there kept spouting that they were living in a "classless society" - I can't for the life of me figure out how they could practice Tall Poppy Syndrome like it was going out of style, write entire neigbourhoods/towns off as "bogan" or "feral", produce some of the most popular and least witty punch-down "satire" on the national broadcaster that I've ever seen (and I've seen "Little Britain"), have (I think) the highest rate of private school attendance in the world, and still not only maintain but have ABSOLUTE FAITH in that fiction.

(Well, I can. They consider themselves "classless" in comparison with England - which is THE point of reference in terms of Australian cultural introspection - which is sad.)

But Britain is special. Or at least, it's special in that I find it baffling, or else in that I maybe I'm mentally overcomplicating it from reading too much E.P. Thompson and realizing that my parents's family - that is, I - would have been impossible there in our current form.

It seems to me that the other places where I've spent any significant time fall into categories I've got an easier time processing, if not accepting or fully understanding class-wise: countries like Canada, Australia, and the States, where ultimately financial success is the most blindingly important social aspiration and the only doors closed to money aren't closed tight or are racist; countries like a lot of mainland Europe, where the "native" working class has a cultural and historical identity that's largely self-referential, and exists in an at least semi-functional political opposition to the soft-handed classes, and where being outside of that is, again, generally down to racism; and then China, where everybody in the city contemns everybody in the countryside and vice-versa, and everybody who's not Han runs a powerless gamut from exotic scenery to Islamic terrorist (so, uh, racist).

But Britain doesn't seem to fall into those easy categories. It seems like there's a lot of closed doors. A lot of dead ends in the mazes where you find political power at the centre, or even a sense of cultural identity at the centre (although I my guess is that's a much more serious problem for the English than for the other countries in the union). And those dead ends and closed doors aren't just racist, or just financial. And I think it has something to do with London being some sort of forced, imperialist locus of culture, commerce and decision-making, like Paris for France, and I think it has something to do with the enclosure movement, and a lot to do with the way the Industrial Revolution made people move and stop having cultural lives unless they were already a member of the leisured classes, and a lot to do with the sudden creation of a massive bourgeoisie that was persuaded to be petrified of the working and farming class it had sprung from and aspirational towards the practices of the aristocratic class laughing at it.

And it all feels very, very unique, and kind of horrible, and I don't get it - I can't even find a formula to over-simplify it and categorize it away in my head - and it scares me.

Some of my closet university friendships started with bitching about adaptations. "They *kissed* at the end? Gross!"