Maxed out - One's place in life 

Well, the party’s over. I guess I should be grateful it wasn’t a surprise party. I’m not at all sure I could have done a surprise party with the grace and aplomb expected of the surprisee. The gushing, ohmigod-you-shouldn’t-have look of genuine surprise and elation in finding what you thought was going to be a quiet, intimate dinner is actually an ambush by half-drunken friends expecting you to wet yourself when they jump out from the shadows and throw a cardiac arrest into your aging ticker.

But the deed is done. The hushed conversations, secret e-mails, conspiracies cloaked in darkness have ended. I managed to keep my clothes on all night, didn’t go home with either a new tattoo or a woman who wasn’t my Perfect Partner; don’t remember embarrassing myself to the point where I’ll have to leave town quickly, and hopefully thanked everyone who was kind enough to show up and wish me well; if not, thank you all. That being said, everything else about life – and the evening – continues to be a mystery.

Well, almost everything. I am overjoyed by a recent revelation that’s come my way. If I were absolutely honest – and wouldn’t that make for pretty tepid columns – I would have to admit that on the Philosophical Continuum, I do not score too high on the What’s the Meaning of Life scale. I’ve always adhered to the You’re Born, You Die school of thought and whatever happens between those two bookends can pretty neatly be summed up by whistling Que Sera, Sera.

Now, sliding into my second half-century, I can happily embrace dotage secure in the knowledge I fully know my place in the world, my station in life. Many believe even the idea of one’s "place" in the warp and weave of our social fabric is a quaint holdover from Victorian times when one wouldn’t think of aspiring to rise above one’s station, set as it was by the crapshoot of birth. After all, the march of social justice for the last hundred years has been all about freeing us from the rigid strictures of class. The overwhelming success of our experiment in classlessness can be witnessed in examples such as asocial geeks becoming dot.com billionaires or southern whiteboy trailer trash being elected president of the US or a mean-spirited man suffering a facial disfigurement becoming Prime Minister of the Great White North, eh?

Despite these anomalies – and after all, it is the exceptions that prove the rule – class continues to hold tightly to the reins of power and there is more than a bit of truth in the old homily about the rich being different from the rest of us. They are; and they rarely miss a chance to remind us. They’ve all gone to that secret finishing school where they learn the Shriveling Stare, the Unctuous Smile, and the Impatiently-Patient Pose, not to mention how to look down their noses without actually crossing their eyes.

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