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A Sunny Place for Shady People

Pithy, contrarian, politically incorrect and curmudgeonly rants on sex, money, power and politics and religion and philosophy. In short: Nothing matters, everything changes and there are no guarantees. The rest is rationalization and bribery. (c) Tom Milner 2002-2003. DIRECTORY of offensive POSTS at Archives: 07/09/03. RECOMMENDED BLOGS: Archives: 07/29/03. email: theoldbuzzard AT sunnyplaceforshadypeople DOT com.

Friday, June 20, 2003
Monday, June 23, 2003

(This is the final installment -- of eight -- comprising a reverential review of iconoclast Paul Fussell's important but highly amusing sociological study Class: A Guide Through the American Status System . New York: Dorset Press, 1990. Out of print but available discounted on line.)

Social climbing is especially insidious in the middle class, where the insecure, terrified conformists lurk, ever alert to the possibility they may suffer at any time a decline in their social standing.

Fussell cannily perceives, for example, that while the social climb is well understood, the social sink is not.

"Ambitious male homosexuals, at least in fantasy, aspire to rise and from humble origins to ascend to the ownership of antique businesses, art galleries, and hair salons .... They learn to affect elegant telephone voices and gravitate instinctively toward 'style' and the grand. Lesbians, on the contrary, like to sink, dropping from middle class status to become taxi drivers, police officers, and construction workers .... But as few sink successfully as rise credibly."

"No matter how much effort you expend, if your language doesn't give you away, your grammar will, or your taste in clothes or cars or ideas."

Fussell finds depressing a tendency in the whole of society toward "prole drift," a general sinking as a result, probably, of mass production, mass selling, mass communication, and mass education, resulting in improved ignorance.

"[S]ome of its symptoms are best-seller lists, films that must appeal to virtually everyone (except the intelligent, sensitive, and subtle), shopping malls, and the lemming flight to the intellectual and cultural emptiness of the Sun Belt."

"Self-serve is ipso facto prole. Proles like it because it minimizes the risk of social contact with people who might patronize or humiliate them."

"[P]role drift is grossly apparent in American beer. The brewers noted that they have greatly reduced the hop content, because hops give beer taste and bitterness. Proles want blah and sweetness."

"The sad thing is that we do get what we deserve."


UNRELATED SUMMER FICTION READ: Christopher: A Tale of Seduction, by Allison Burnett.
Broadway Books 260 pp. $13.95 paper.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003
Thursday, June 19, 2003

Know any paruretics?

That's the newly tony medical appellation for the pee-shy.

Or, as it is coyly (or smirkingly) referred to among its victims -- no laughing matter either -- "bashful bladder syndrome," or BBS.

Too precious, we think.

The Paruresis Lobby is also fond of calling it psychogenic urinary retention (PUR?).

The most common symptom is the inability to urinate in a public toilet.

BBS causes real distress in activities like social adventures, travel, and extended business meetings.

The BBS Agenda includes petitioning for more partitioning in public facilities for the necessary privacy to void.

We're back to the old shibboleth: performance anxiety, usually associated with sexual dysfunction, at critically charged moments.

Many paruretics resort to the old running water trick to start the flow.

Many simply always avoid all public accommodations.

Treatment options for BBS include the afflicted gradually attempting to urinate in more and more awkwardly public locations.

A sizable minority find temporary or permanent relief by learning self-catheterization. (Ouch!)

Or one can join the local International Paruresis Association (IPA) chapter for referral to a "cognitive-behavioral therapist."

One can also join the Friends of the IPA!

This worthy organization apparently assembles support groups to practice a Pee-in to overcome fear.

Finally, for those actively avoiding employer enforced drug testing, simply boldly cite your anxiety disorder from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) IV, code 300.23 to avoid giving a urine sample under watchful eyes.

Something for everyone.


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