Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Invasion of the Mud Peeps, or, Hoi Polloi as Hoity Toity, Xmas Party 06

I wanted to write about Fish and I at her company's Xmas party with some distance because, well, if I had written straight away I'd have been savage. Here's the setup...

Fish works on the plantation of a business that is, let's just say, a player in LA. As I write this they have their fingers in the midst of some major jobs downtown and at Universal Studios. So their annual Xmas party comes up at no less than the LA Country Club. (LACC, not to be confused here with Los Angeles City College)

Now, the LACC has a weird kind of spectre status in LA - very few even know where it's at, have seen it, much less been there. I'm talking about the unwashed masses of us mud peeps, nomsayin'? Like gated communities, security here is to keep the riff raff mud peeps out.

So it was with bemusement, to say the least, that I, oh dear reader, went with Fish to this gig.

Now, that isn't to say all mud peeps are out - obviously, Fish and I snuck in. But more on this later. There's too much fun, first...

It's conservative and stuffy.

If it looks plantation-ish that's probably no mistake. More stuffiness, courtesy of the men's ante room:

As we entered the lobby there was an elaborate snowscape replete with train, windmills, etc., but I could only snap this small portion of it in passing as Fish was dragging me in.

First, get drunk. No matter what your status in society, peeps have proven that they likes ta get HIGH. So they move us as a prelude to the bar/greeting/piano room. Groovy. Get down, Bill Evans...

Yeah, it was packed full of peeps who look like this:

Apart from the help mud peeps, Fish and I stood out. The cursory intros were made, and they were all quite pleasant, in that pat your head kind of way.

It's always interesting to me to watch the privileged move amongst the mud peeps. One would think it'd be the other way around, but since I identify with the streets, it's not nearly as interesting to me to watch the mud peeps; there are exceptions, tho, as we'll see.

What characterizes white people amongst the mud peeps for me is a strange mix of unawareness and unctuousness; whites are totally oblivious to "the help" except when they need a drink. They'll rarely look them in the eye, never smile at them, let alone say "please," or "thanks." They are, in a phrase, just some rude motherfuckers for whom racist-capitalism serves all too well and suppresses mud peeps. And god forbid they should ever engage a mud peep in a down to earth convo.

White person: That's very interesting, Adoo.
Mud Peep: My name is "Azu."
WP: And what brought you to America?
MP: I came here to go to school.
WP: Oh, what school is that?
MP: Brandeis.
WP: Oh...

It reminds me of Ellison telling of porters and clerks when he was a young man who were black. The thing of it was that white folks never in their wildest dreams suspected that doctors and lawyers were carrying their luggage and doing the lifting.

Then came a clarion call, or rather, the call to grub. It came via lovely bell tones, courtesy of some mud peeps:

Yes, Oh dear reader, that's a mini xylophone sir mud peep is holding. He'd walk around mallet in hand and hit out three notes and, right on cue, the walls opened up and the white folks moved right past the mud peeps to their just desserts. Haha.

Yes, this place was as if Marie Callendar had died and gone to heaven. As Stan Lee coined: 'Nuff said.

So, we happened to luck out and were seated with another young couple Fish happens to know. Everyone else was old and uptight in that "never talk about sex" kind of way. That doesn't mean they weren't cordial - they were. But it's the cordiality born of perfunctoriness.

With that the mud peeps brought out the salads, and we're seated in the midst of this:

I'm actually having a good time, number one cuz I'm with Fish and she's lookin' finer than all the other gals, but also because I'd forgotten what it was to be in a really privileged atmosphere. It was repulsive and perversely amusing at the same time, if that makes any sense.

Main course is up now: filet, salmon, creamed spinach, and some really great taters (I LOVES taters, maybe more than rice!).

Now, of course, the table banter ensues, and yes, dear reader, yours truly can "flap his yap," according to Fish. So when all the prelims are done and the weeding out has commenced and gone, Fish and I settle in with the young couple.

It went pleasantly enough; the mud peeps stayed invisible to white people until they were called for something; the mud peeps never betrayed their disdain for white people; and I never once betrayed my loathing for a system that places people in such an awkward situation. What was interesting was how at one point everyone was talking about their jobs - standard fare. As they made the rounds it became painfully evident that while they made very good money by most standards, some perhaps slovenly so because it was the result of birthright or connections, all of them to a one were in work that was b-o-r-i-n-g.

So it was, Oh dear reader, that your boy was dreading but with bemusement his turn at the lecturn. When I revealed my servitude to the evil empire, all eyes turned and ears perked. So I spent the next few minutes downplaying and then putting a nail in the coffin by saying, "It's really diminished my view of humanity." Boy, that takes the air out of the room. Of course, they could never know how little of a baby step that is for me.

What's amazing about the hoity toity is how easily their shields recover. No matter how squarely between the eyes you hit them; Watts Riots, check; LA '92, check; anti-war protests, check; Watergate, check; Iran/Contra, check; Savings and Loans scam, check; junk bonds, check; Enron... or even how boring and lifeless their existence is.

Their world view, and more importantly, their personal and collective pov of their place in that world view, reified by corporations, governments, police, politicians, the kind of health care they receive, the type of work they do (no matter how boring, truly the height of miserable-ism!), the courts/penal system, their education.... It comforts them from any storm - even when it's pointed out to them that, at best, it's just a shield like any other and that in the end, we all face one common "foe" in death.

But boy howdy, then came dessert!!! Great wafers with decadent homemade ice cream, custard, raspberries and cream and syrup and... damn. That shit was bombazz.

Now came the fun part; FUNKY WHITE FOLKS!

The house band played covers, of course. All white band, save for their mud peep brotha lead singer.

All in all, it was highly amusing. Even LACC's paper napkins are made of that grade of paper that feels sorta cloth like. Corny logo tho:

So to sum up

Fish's coat was great:

Food was good.

Event was as expected and perversely entertaining, but I wouldn't want a steady diet of it.

White folks want to get funky wit it.

I can function in a privileged atmosphere until I betray myself.

Mud peeps was cool and invisible except when more (fill in the blank) was needed.

The best lookin' couple was at our table. Well at least the one with the regular sized head:

As we drove out, I took notice; at the street entrance, there's just ivy and a non-descript sign, off to the west, stuck low in the ground. It's lit with a light, and has an address on it. No name. Nothing else.