10.28.2009

I am the middle class

(First...Leslie, I picked up your award...thank you so much, will post tomorrow!)
I know...I know...
so what.
Well, it means something.
Poverty is a mindset. When you grow up poor, you kind of get stuck there sometimes.
You middle class people might not know this, but you know how you sometimes make jokes about trailer parks and welfare recipients, And rednecks with guns and trucks . Well, they are making fun of you too.
You might wonder what there is to make fun of...
Well, as a former denizen of the working class, current denizen of the bourgeois middle....everything and nothing.
As a poor person, the amount of time spent working on lawns and cultivating shaped shrubbery was something to be laughed at. Jumpers, minivans, and "oh my goodness" and 'well, I never's"....
I remember how much fun my crap head friends and I had running through the lawns of the summer people up from Detroit. I distinctly remember cutting flowers from the beds near the roads to take home to my mom, and my mom laughing and not asking where I had gotten them from. We cut down trees on a neighboring property (around 2000 acres, it was a hunting club for yuppies) to heat our home. We never wondered if the food was 'organic' and the idea of being a vegetarian brought only eye rolls or puzzled stares. I can still remember my husband (who was raised in an upper middle class home) sitting in the kitchen in Michigan with two other guys. The were talking about hunting. Now, there is a sub strata of hunting called 'primitive' hunting. Primarily done by yuppies who don't actually need the food to support their families. You hunt with a spear.
He had mentioned this to me before we got there, I told him IF i was him, I wouldn't say anything, because I didn't think those guys would understand. It's hard being the liason between two groups of people. So...does he listen...nope.
He pipes up with this yuppy idea, and there was about thirty seconds of silence. Then God help me, someone snickered and I couldn't help it....we all laughed. You know why....
Why hunt with spears....THAT'S WHY GOD MADE GUNS. LOLOLOL.
Now I drive a mini van, I don't wear jumpers but I do spout the occasional third grade teacher expletive "holy cow'. as opposed to holy sh*t.
Now I worry about my lawn and plant flowers, but I still sit back from time to time and wonder why I spend so much time worrying about my lawn...in all honesty, I think it's just suburbia. Everyone worries how they look to each other. You don't want to be THAT neighbor. The neighbor that doesn't weed. The neighbor whose dog "won't quit barking" or "is always getting out'.
When I was growing up, during the summer, yuppies from Gross point and ann arbor would pack up their summer clothes and head 'to the woods' and their 'cottages on the lake'. The Lexus and caddies on dirt roads, and watching yuppies complain about how the dust was going to ruin the paint job on their shiny cars were sources of amusement. (We lived in a big tourist area). All the guys would take their muddin trucks and act like idiots on the roads to put the fear of God into the tourists.
Now I worry that the sun may fade my paint job.
I took my children on 'play dates'.
This doesn't occur with poor people.
Neither do flute lessons, soccer teams, or karate lessons.
Learning disabilities just mean "jimmy don't pay attention in school'.
He's gonna be a mechanic.
Now kids are adhd, dyslexic, or the all encompassing 'trying to find themselves'. I still find myself saying "your bored, well how bout you scrub the toilet" when my children can't find any way to entertain themselves. We were never entertained. We 'went outside and played'.

I realized today that I am the middle class.
I hopped into my car after loading the back full of girl scout stuff. We are making Christmas ornaments for silver key services. I pulled on my more than 20 dollar coat, pulled on my leather gloves...climbed into our families second car. Pulled out, looked up and noticed our neighbor (who is a school teacher) I waved, and he waved back. I remember being glad I looked decent...my kid looks decent, and we were on our way to doing something decent....then it popped into my head.
I am like all those people we used to make fun of. Full face of makeup, hair pulled up..leather shoes. I am the middle class. This was really brought home to me the other day.
I took my daughter to a bowling alley to meet up with some friends.
I stood there half in and half out of middle class suburbia.....I looked around, flannel shirts, tight jeans, lots of hairspray, and bad teeth. Beer, loud music and loud talking, loud laughter. One half of me remembers being in places like that. I remember that quite a few of them are good people.
The other half of me is mentally screaming "No way in h*ll my fifteen year old is going to stay here without adult supervision, and- I wonder if anyone is breaking into my car as we stand here.
I could feel the people there looking me over and judging me in much the same way I was looking them over and judging them. I didn't fit there, and they knew it. What they didn't know was that I used to. We left, I didn't let my daughter stay and wait.
When we got in the car she said "Jeesh mom, the only thing missing were the prostitutes."
Not a clue. That was not somewhere she would hang out AT ALL.
It's a weird perception shift. It's nice. I spent alot of time, energy and money hoping that my kids could think that way (and they do). I never knew that I would. I am not sure whether it's a good or bad thing. Neither I guess. As long as I still have a sense of humor and don't get a poker up my butt and become a stiff I should be fine. I am glad I have lived in two different worlds, it gives me some perspective on the more ridiculous aspects of the life I am currently living. It's a reminder that an image is just that, an image.
I tweaked something in my leg on my walk/run yesterday.
I hope it feels better by tomorrow.
Today is a regular calorie day, no exercise.
Hope everyone is doing fine.
Hugs,
Chris

11 comments:

Jodie said...

That shows some great parenting that your daughter not only left with you willingly but was able to discern the problem with the situation. I imagine that many teens wouldn't be able to do that. I moved out of suburbia to the country because the pressure of trying to be like everyone else was eating me alive!

I've got blue collar roots, but now I like my massages and my minivan and Gap clothing. It's funny

Miss Marilee said...

While this blog post made some awesome and valid points, I couldn't help but sit here in my flannel shirt, skinny jeans and hair with half a can of hairspray in it and laugh. I could NOT stop laughing! I was that girl in high school who sat at the bowling alley every Saturday night with my friends like clockwork. It may be horribly redneck, but frankly there wasn't anything else to do. =) I love the way you look at the world, my friend!

Ladybug said...

I have to agree...we never really forget where we came from. I am from a broken home... between my mom and stepdad, there was 5 girls! Five teenage girls in one three bedroom house with 1 bathroom! Things got rough... money was short, my parents did what they could to survive. We planted many gardens, mom CANNED all summer long so we had veggies, soups, juices, etc. for the winter months....

My mom clipped coupons, shopped the discount stores, garage sales, whatever...

TODAY... my hubby and I make more (including all of hubby's military benefits)than my parents did...but you know what... we still clip coupons, I still have a $140.00 bi-weekly grocery budget (that has not changed in 16 years!), we still shop yard sales... I still won't buy something regular price...or rarely ever.

It's all the way I was brought up... that's all I ever knew. It doesn't bother me one bit. I love being frugal...LOL.

Great post!

jo said...

We were pretty poor when I was young, although Dad built the house we lived in, it was small. My house now which is small is bigger than that, where they raised four kids. We wore handmedowns, milk mixed with powdered milk, orange juice made with twice the amount of water...then as my older siblings left, dad got senority, we hit middle class. My older siblings had a different upbringing than I did. I grew up mostly in middle class.

Again, you'll keep me thinking for awhile.

Anyway, I was laughing so hard about the spear hunting. My husband who grew up dirt poor--his mom still lives in a trailer, was making fun of some NFL player who went spear hunting. Except this guy has a mullet and wears flannel. I forget who it is, I'll have to ask him. Yet hubby who is an engineer still has that upbringing with him.

I've always been attracted to those who have had it rough. I make fun of our next-door neighbors and their manicuring their lawn--yesterday she raked the blipping street. My son and I were howling with laughter. So maybe I still have a little of it in me, too.

Mommy2Joe said...

Oh, girl, thanks for the Michigan memories. My BFF back home just bought a vacation house in Charlevoix, and she emailed me recently about it - she grew up pretty Flint Michigan poor, and now is one of those - living in Grand Blanc and summering in Charlevoix. Crazy how it happens without us really realizing it.

Las Vegas Weight Loss Challenge said...

Chris- It is quit amazing how our perspective changes with money.

Emmett said...

This post reminds me of how thankful I should be of what I do have. Lately its only what I don't have that I keep thinking about.

Amy H. said...

I remember never wanting anyone to come over to my house when I was a kid because I was so embarrassed by the filth (we lived with just my dad and he worked, didn't clean much). My circumstances have changed for the better, but I will never forget the child that I was.

Paula Rodriguez said...

First, than you for your comment... you drean made me really laugh. Then I went to your blog, and you made me laugh again. Thank you. It's a great way to start the morning.

Melissa said...

Very interesting post. Hubby and I were discussing what we would do if our jobs (at the same company) were to vanish and it was strange the things that we have that we don't even need.

Carlos said...

loved this post and the perception changing vibe