The Stepford People
The Stepford People
I grew up in a very good home, with eleven brothers and sisters. We lived in a neighborhood where such large families were the norm, not the exception. As a consequence, from childhood on, we always sought to distinguish ourselves on the field of sport, in academics, or in some other area of social behavior, where we might stand out a bit and make a name for ourselves. Sometimes we succeeded, sometimes we merely got tagged as social misfits, who didn’t quite fit the mold. It bred in us a striving for individuality, something that would give us an edge and help us climb a bit higher on the socio-economic pyramid.
It was then something of a surprise to many of us, when we entered adulthood, that we were expected to behave, act and be like everyone else. Anyone standing out from the crowd, by thought or action, was destined for what we later found out was called the “Japanese Solution. “ That venerable culture has a proverb which states that “any nail, that sticks out, should be hammered back into place with all of the force society can bring to bear.”
Perhaps the penultimate example of this “group think” is today found in what we call the modern day “country club setting.” Within it, is a highly defined and structured pecking order of who calls the shots and who thinks “what is what.” Many of these folks wear the same type of clothes, go to the same restaurant, and are careful to express non-controversial views on every subject under the sun, particularly if a certain dragon person is sensitive to this subject. In politics, we used to call this “sailor’s mentality,” someone who was used to sailing with the prevailing breeze, rather than tacking into the wind for a much harder voyage.
Given my iconoclastic nature, and rebellious Irish Catholic upbringing, I often run afoul of some of these social doyens who thinks me a nail that “needs to be hammered. “ My response is always some very polite form of “in your ear” or “yo mamma.” In my family, we were raised to think on our own and act the way we saw fit, not just in a manner suited to please the whims of others. Needless to say, our mailbox has never been overly full of dinner invitations or for social gatherings.
That works for me. I have never been a big fan of mingling with what I have come to call the “ass in your face crowd.” I got that term from sitting in a few very crowded weekly happy hours. The same people, who had already seen each other several times that week, would sit near each other and then get up to flit around the various tables, visiting. In the narrow confines of the taproom, this would necessarily place the derriere, of these social butterflies, in your face, as they flitted from table to table, talking in loud voices over several glasses on wine.
And then, if you were rogue enough to decline to join one of the several golf leagues, or attend monthly dinner dances that have been social anachronisms since, the 1960’s, you are forever branded as a social misfit. The great wonder of this appellation is that you then, never again had to deal with or socially interact with the very worst of the “ass in your face crowd.” Irony is one of the great pleasures of life.
Of course, most of the members of these clubs are fine people, they just forget sometimes that there are many of us who are not “stepford members,” who move, think, dine and act in unison to the loud thumping of self appointed social arbiters. Thank the good lord that I never earned any significant amounts of money in life. I hear that the restrictions are much worse as you scale the social pyramid. No wonder the rich all sneer at everyone else. It is the only pleasure they have in life. Sometimes, being raised as one of the peasants, is a distinct advantage in life.
Joseph Xavier Martin