The other day at lunch, I met a prospie (prospective student, for those not down wit’ da 411) from a Chicago private school, who was very excited about coming to Beloit. From the ten-minute conversation I had with her, I can say I’m very glad that I’ll be in Madison next year.
I don’t know if this is a Chicago thing or a Chicago school thing or a rich white brat from a Chicago private school thing, but this kid’s obnoxious attitude spilled over into everything. From the way she interrupted everyone, to the way she talked louder when someone else tried to have a side conversation, even to the way she stabbed her fries into her ketchup, everything screamed of assumed superiority.
I mentioned that I was leaving Beloit, and she asked why. I told her how I’d lived in small towns my entire life, and how I was ready for a change, and how I was disappointed in many of the departments (coughcoughARTcoughcough) here. She said something like “I want to go to a bigger city too.” I said “Wait… aren’t you from CHICAGO?”
So she goes off on this rant about how she’s bisexual and her grandma’s friend overheard her talking about “hot chicks” to her friend who’s bisexual too, then told her grandma who told her mom and she got in trouble for it. My friend Lauren, who’s sitting next to me (and who’s from Des Moines) says “Well, that’s why you don’t talk about that stuff in public!” I say “Yeah!” or some such.
The girl blows up at Lauren and me. Tells us there’s no reason why Grandma and Mom shouldn’t be accepting. Says she should be able to say whatever the hell she wants and not get in trouble for it. But by now, most of the table has agreed with Lauren, so the girl changes the subject.
But this little exchange bothered me for the rest of the day. Lauren and I are from places where there’s a set of things you do not talk about in public, period - and if sexuality isn’t number one, it’s up there. We obey these rules, preferring to have our “hot chicks” and (I’m assuming) “hot dudes” discussions in a friend’s living room or basement, instead of on a crowded sidewalk or a bus. “Getting in trouble” would consist of disowning or boot camp.
I’ll admit I wouldn’t be at all upset with this girl if the people gossiping about her had been 16 or 17 - but Grandma and company are from a different time with a stricter set of rules, and it’s not easy to change once you’re in your sixties or seventies. What pissed me off the most was this girl’s superior attitude: that every single one of those rules we took for granted should bend for her, and her “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it” philosophy should be instantly accepted with no friction or complaint.
But maybe the prospie was on to something. Maybe those old rules need to be broken, by whatever means. Maybe Lauren and I have this concept of “good” and “permissible” that helps to keep an order that needs to change.
Aaaargh, I’m so confused…