SOCIAL CLASS Hey dear old friends and new ones in The AuthorsLounge, give me a few minutes and your thoughts about social class. Here’s an example from my childhood that may spark one from yours. When you were nine or ten years old were you aware of social class distinctions? I learned the hard way. We moved to a new town when I was in the fourth grade. Judy, a little girl in funny clothes, befriended me. Her knickers had holes in them long before that was a popular style. One day I asked her if she could take the bus home with me to play after school. She said she didn’t have to ask her mother because nobody would be home where she lived. I believed her and we both jumped onto the school bus. She grinned continuously, excited because she’d didn’t live on a bus route and simply walked to school every day. I introduced her to my mother then took her up to the attic where my toys were stashed. I had a baby carriage and a bunch of brand-new dolls up there.
I never played with them. They were Christmas presents from relatives who didn’t know I preferred playing basketball and ping pong with my older brothers to playing with dolls. Judy, though, was entranced. She groaned and hugged and pushed the carriage around the attic. The joy on her face made me give her the carriage and three big dolls. When it was time for her to go home, I watched her start walking the two miles back to her street with a soft smile on her face and stars in her eyes. Besides, I had no use for the damn toys. Social class? What’s that? I soon found out. My mother had a fit when I told her I gave Judy my doll carriage. “How could you dare give away a Christmas present? And to that little girl dressed in rags. She doesn’t deserve toys like that.” It was too late, thank God, for me to run after her and take them back, and too soon for me to understand the meanings of social class. What do you Readers Lounge characters remember when you first became aware of the hazards of class? I’ve long observed the various ways people are classified by class and the subsequent inability to be comfortable with classes “outside” their own. Language reveals class in many cases. If you live in the slums you talk the slum language of your city and country. Trishita, in THE UNDERBELLY, learned the language of squalor. “Hey, Assholes you think you gonna plug me, youse ain’t got a chance.”
Such language and sexual references are offensive to other classes. As she rose to an upper, educated class, she learned the current language, spoke it freely, and knew it was not the language of her thoughts. Early on Trishita knew what she had to learn while employed as housemaid for the Hyde family. Not only did she mimic their language, she learned how to cook gourmet meals from Jacquelyn’s cookbooks, how to drive from lessons in the son’s car, and how to use a computer skillfully from Mr. Hyde. Of course, she gracefully enjoyed sex with both father and son. Because she grew up with a sexy mother among people of all ages who laced their conversations with blatant sexual references, and because she was raped at age twelve, Trishita developed an on-going good sense about the men, the times, and the places she had sex.
It never occurred to her to feel guilty. At one point she says, “Sex is a two headed monster, both beautiful and ugly.” It’s interesting that people who commit an offense often accuse their lover of doing the same thing, be it sex or gambling or chocolate indulging. Folks who don’t disapprove of their own behavior never mention worries about others. Dr. Jacquelyn would never reveal her main weakness, too bizarre to expect anyone else may have the same problem. But, because she doesn’t care if she has sex with her husband or anyone else, she never suspects Trishita may crave it. However, she is worried that her thirteen year-old daughter spends too much time with Trishita and raves about her.
Hey old friends and good buddies in the AuthorsLounge, when do you worry about someone else’s specific behavior? Do you recognize it’s something you may have done? I’ve wondered if a close friend of mine were having an affair with a married man. Dead giveaway, that? Also, after you read THE UNDERBELLY, let me know what you think of Trishita’s behavior in the Hyde family.