We have Paris Hilton to thank for so many things: increased sales in dog clothes, the return of big ugly sunglasses and a small upsurge in jailhouse religion. Wonder if she made a donation to the Gideons out of gratitude for the bible she clung to in jail? I’m afraid her biggest contribution to society may have been a general downturn in the ambition of some young women. We seem to have a lot of very young women who think you can glide by in life on a smile, three inches of cleavage and a tilt of the head. There are plenty of smart, ambitious young women out there, so I don’t want to paint them all with the “broad” brush. However, dumb is back, and it’s driving me crazy.
When I was growing up in the seventies the Gloria Steinhams, Shirley Chisholms and Billie Jean Kings of this country were motivating us little girls to be the best and brightest we could be. Daily, the dominant figures in the media pounded into my little nearsighted, brunette head that an education was my ticket to success. My parents drilled that message into me too, but they were reinforced by the images and messages on TV and in books and magazines. Of course, when you are severely nearsighted and skinny as a POW you don’t exactly pin your hopes on using your looks to get ahead. Nevertheless, no one else was sending me that message, either. The country was shutting down its Playboy Bunny clubs and burning their Cross Your Heart bras.
It’s just not that way these days. While parents and the realists of this world are still preaching education, the 24-hour media circus is glutted with Paris, Nicole and other folks famous for showing up and looking good. And don’t forget Britney and Lindsey who have some talent but get more attention for getting drunk and waving their hoo-hoo in our face. Dumb is cute. Young women are using their sexuality instead of their brains to make a buck. The Playboy Bunnies are back. They even have their own reality show. Jessica gets movie deals because she fills out a pair of shorts and can’t tell the difference between chicken and tuna. We are backsliding with all of this giggling and chest thrusting.
I want you to know that I’m doing my part to stop it in its tracks. My latest attempt was last Thursday night while I was standing in line at the Porta-Potties with several hundred other people at the Jimmy Buffett concert. The lines were clearly marked and people were trying to be considerate and efficient because we all wanted to get back to our seats before the end of intermission. Each line was served by two Porta-Potties. As I neared the front of my line, a sweet young thing came walking up next to me, smiled and said to the elderly fellow in front of me, “I’m starting a new line.” (Insert excessive giggling and chest thrusting here.) Apparently he was too surprised to speak or distracted by the cleavage. Not me. Maybe it was the margaritas at work, but I wanted her to know that cute business wasn’t getting her a free pass to the front of the line. I tapped her on the shoulder and said, “There is no new line. THIS line serves these two bathrooms, and the line starts back THERE.” (Insert pointing of figure to the end of the line.) I had a flash of Kathy Bates in “Fried Green Tomatoes” when she tells those two girls she’s older and has more insurance and then proceeds to ram their car. “Tawanda!” was her battle cry. Sweet young thing seemed surprised by my tawanda moment. I continued to glare at her so she dropped her head and stood there longingly while we passed her by and used the pot. Of course, in my haste to keep her out of the Porta-Pottie, I opened the door too fast and exposed the backside of a man taking a whiz. Oops! A casualty in my war on stupid girls.
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