Friday, January 20, 2006

Balance And Status

36 Balance And Status

There’s something out of balance here.

The guy who delivers the morning paper does so from the window of a Lexus SUV. The guys who used to walk around during snowstorms offering to shovel drive a Ford SUV, or maybe it’s a Jeep.

The doctor down the block has a 1984 Toyota Corolla.

Cars used to be an indication of status. And income.

No more.

Who cares? Why those of us who keep track of the status symbols, now that Vance Packard isn’t doing it anymore.

What HAS become a real symbol of status?

The biggest plasma television?

The jeans with the most rips and tears and shredding?

The ugliest pedigreed dog?

You can’t parade around the streets carrying a $150 bottle of single malt Scotch, which would impress the daylights out of anyone who (a) sees it and (b) knows what it is.

That plasma TV doesn’t travel well, so what’s it worth as a status symbol if you can’t show it off, which is the whole idea behind the symbols in the first place?

Among those of us of a certain age, infirmity can be a status symbol, but it has to be at least slightly visible.

Cancer and heart disease may draw sympathy, but they’re usually not obvious.

Even Dick Cheney doesn’t walk around in a bomber jacket that says “My Heart Is A Time Bomb” embroidered on the back.

Even using a motorized three or four wheeled scooter doesn’t hack it anymore. EVERYONE has one of those.

Can anyone tell if the “diamond” you’re wearing is a diamond or “diamond essence” or zirconium? Only people who (a) carry jewelers’ loupes and (b) look closely and (c) know what they’re looking at and for do.

You can buy a “Coach” purse or briefcase that isn’t. So that doesn’t work. (You can tell it’s a knockoff by looking closely, but no one but the Intellectual Property Police looks closely.)

You can receive a zillion dollar bonus from your employer, but no one actually SEES that – so THAT doesn’t work.

It’s a terrible situation for anyone who wants to project status.

Those ripped jeans? If you’d gone out of the house with those on 25 or 30 years ago, your mother would have KILLED you.

Carrying the “Times” or the “Wall St. Journal” or “Foreign Affairs Quarterly” or “Scientific American” doesn’t do it. EVERYONE reads the Times and the Journal, no one knows what “Foreign Affairs” is and SA no longer is written in a way that only Einstein would understand it.

Even “tough-guy” status isn’t what it used to be.

Dress like a rapper, mumble when you talk and everyone thinks you’re Steven Segal or Luca Brazzi.

Maybe neuroses are the new status symbols. Like who can panic first when a train stalls?

Or gets out of the Lexus when the hurled newspaper lands sideways instead of aligned with the direction of the walkway.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.™

©wjr 2006

1 comment:

John G said...

Maybe it's the rich guys who are making this happen, though I'm not sure why. Remember, Nelson Rockefeller spent his last years promoting great art reproductions (who could tell the dif?) for the sweaty masses.