A Moment of Silence to Commemorate What’s Not Happening Right Now: As you may know, at the end of last semester Sofia and I found out that the campus theater group in charge of orientation programming was planning to put on the nightmare-come-to-life Great American Trailer Park Musical. Yes, it’s as bad as it sounds. Yes, every single punchline (we highlighted them) relies on poverty being funny. And yes, the two of us and the LGBT center director had to go up a group of people who had no idea why it wouldn’t be a good idea to have all the rich first years bond over crooked teeth and alcoholism. Sofia was far more patient and able to argue productively while I felt differently implicated and tried to beg while also brainstorming radical steps beyond the administrative channels.
“We won’t be making fun of poor people,” the director told us, “we’ll be making fun of the stereotypes people have about poor people. In the end they will be like– wow, that’s so ridiculous it can’t be true.” His argument actually made a graceful finish to my year since the year before I made the complete opposite in a presentation about the movie Mean Girls and the notion that something is “funny because it’s true.” (I’m using the quotes now as a shout-out to my overuse of quotes in that presentation. I think the major drawback of the internet is that it relies too heavily on text. I don’t want the quotes I all the charming connotations of airquotes without the finger wiggling.)
Anyway, Sofia and I didn’t have to call in all our combined progressive muscle. The director decided it would be better to not cause a fight and— maybe, also, decided it would be better not to contribute to a hostile and humiliating culture of wealthy elitism and poverty stigmatization and alienation already prevalent on campus.
Meanwhile, orientation is raging and I’ve been in training all day to lead mandatory programming on sexual assault, stalking, and relationship abuse. It’s hard to believe that five years ago I was doing a crossword while diligently ignoring the matriculation speech in my New Yorker jean jacket when I met my bestfriend-to-be. And look at us now. It is possible that my time at The University has quashed me into an even jaded-er person. (The jaded type who still cries about mothers and daughters together, certainly, but nonetheless…) I was surprised to be partnered with an awesome person. When did I abandon all hope of meeting good people at school? (Answer in the form of a workshop activity question: agree or disagree: October of my freshman year.) Maybe the person who paired me up, the same LGBT director, was feeling affectionate. Whatever it was, don’t think I’m not grateful. I’m making a new term up for her instead of Queer Ally–since ally, these days, seems to mean someone doesn’t actively hate homos. Instead she is a Queer Awesome. I am confident our workshops will be really productive even if I do have to survive two days of being read to from a redundant instruction manual that I could probably be trusted to study myself.
*Insult overheard on the subway by A. “Healthy Shine” Weissman my departing ladywife.