There was a time in your life when the only thing that made you angrier than finding chicken bits in the communal, vegan wok was when certain aspiring writers who might name John Irving as their idol refused to replace “he/she” with “s/he.” But then you failed to internalize Cornell West. Cornell West started showing up on Bill Maher. And BAM! “charter schools” joined “professional athlete” on certain children’s “your only way out” list. And somehow you were fine with that.
At this point it is indisputable that you are indeed going through that change. I am talking about that change that is capable of taking a perfectly stubborn individual and turning her into a star pupil in the patriarch’s school of sociopolitical norms. It’s the same change that once transformed flower children into champions of privatization and quiet critics of the public option.
But it’s not too late. You don’t have to buy from the registry just yet. No one is forcing you to agree that the woman in the corner office is indeed the perfect baby-bearing age. In fact, regardless of the unwelcome appearance of your first few grays and genetically inevitable saddlebags, it is still possible to be a firm believer in the dogma of social constructs and creed of ant-hegemonies. However, if you don’t stop and look at the monster you’re poised to become today, it could be too late tomorrow.
All you need to do is take a moment, answer these six, simple multiple choice questions and find out just how close you are to waking up in a Pottery Barn-furnished McMansion.
1. During casual discussions of the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus package you:
a. Regurgitate Krugman or Gibbs. If it’s not in your morning talking points (ie: The New York Times) then it’s not a viable option.
b. Are unable to contribute to the discussion because frequency with which the word “package” is used in such close proximity to “stimulus” keeps you too internally amused.
c. Never engage in the conversation because you do not want to validate the label “Administration” because that would suggest your complicity with a two-party system.
2. When your twenty-two year old niece incessantly insists that one out of every two thousand births is indeed an intersexed baby you:
a. Balk and remind her that if she stops defining herself as “gender queer” on her law school applications you’ll introduce her to the Dean at Georgetown.
b. Offer her another Jack and Coke as a means of demonstrating your acceptance of her obvious sexuality.
c. Pull out the diagram that you keep in your wallet that illustrates how “reconstructive” infant genital surgery is in fact drastically under reported.
3. During the Miss California USA gay marriage bruhaha you:
a. Agreed with Jon Stewart’s “leave the slut alone” rant because Jon Stewart is always right on the money. ALWAYS.
b. You don’t understand this question because you’re still watching Miss South Carolina’s 2007 comments on “U.S. Americans.'”
c. Can barely get the words “Loving v. Virginia” and “miscegenation” out fast enough to explain what would have happened had Miss California expressed her personal view that blacks should refrain from marrying whites.
4. When Netanyahu won you:
a. Were bummed the Livni didn’t pull through but renewed your AIPAC membership just to be on the safe side.
b. Were too immersed in Purim party pre-planning to even try and identify the 157 billion candidates that ran.
c. Spent the following three months mass-emailing Yoni Goodman’s “Closed Zone” video and signing up for Audre Lorde’s Israel boycott.
5. At your sister’s bridal shower you:
a. Made one of your most impressive bouquets yet using a paper plate and ribbons.
b. Played air hockey with her fourteen year-old cousin in the basement the entire time. Your mother was not amused.
c. Staged a sit-in on the front lawn with the catering service. If the sex workers unionized than so can caterers.
6. Obama is:
c. Obviously this is a trap.
Scoring Key & Recovery Recommendations:
Mostly As: You’re practically your mother. After, long after, Woodstock. Not before.
Look, I’m not going to sugar coat this. You have a lot of work to do. You have handed the steering wheel of your life over to a proverbial culture validation admissions team. Regaining control will not be easy. I suggest immediately employing the Chicago Boys approach. You will need to shock yourself into a suitable state of numbness from which you can then begin the rebuilding process. Your shock therapy might include a long lunch at the Cheescake Factory and of course some type of ‘tini with the girls. Keep this up and soon enough you’ll be ready to revisit the Scum Manifesto with highlighter in hand.
Mostly Bs: You’re practically your mother. At Woodstock. Perpetually.
You have certainly veered off track but luckily your sensory receptors seem to have absorbed very little over the last ten years so it’s really not that big of a deal. At this juncture in your life my only recommendation is to treat yourself a little. Splurge. Cancel your Jdate subscription and put the money into something that you know will make you happy, instead of something that can only ever fulfill you in theory.
Mostly Cs: You’re practically your mother. Had she decided to move west instead of southeast after Woodstock.
Not bad, C, not bad. You have managed to stay focused in spite of a full-fledged multi-lateral attack by an army of culturally normative soldiers. You are a true warrior. You are also exhausted. You don’t know how much longer you can keep up the fight. Lately, you are even starting to wonder why fight at all. Why not just surrender to the masses and bathe yourself in the societal approvals that will inevitably flow like the sangria at your bff’s engagement party. You are experiencing these impulses not because surrender is imminent but because you’re alone in this thankless cultural battle. You need to get out of the line of fire, change it up a little and find a support team. Don’t waste any more time. Stop staring at the onesies in the window. It’s a mirage. And for god’s sake, don’t let the public service debt-repayment plans lure you into their grip — it’s a trap. Turn and run. You will find others eventually. But for now, just run.