Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Jay Looks For A Community of Ethnically Ambiguous White People

I'm searching for a quick-and-easy way to meet people in this crazy-ass world of ours, because, well, I'm pretty desperate. Usually I write stuff like that on Friday or Saturday night — date night — because I'm at home alone and it's a relatively good date night for me if there's an all-new episode of Monk on. But I'm desperate all the time, and it doesn't help that I've got these acquaintances on the Facebook with 122 friends from college or 157 friends or — and I'm sure this guy's just fucking with me — 275 friends. I can actually count the friends I made in college on my fingers. There's eight of them. I have two fingers left over, and damn they're choice fingers to point at Mr. 275 there.

So I want to meet people, and it turns out there aren't any in my house. It took me like twenty-three years to figure that out. I went out and tried the geriatric Scrabble club and found the social scene there was a little unhip to say the least. I'm not sure what else is around. I've considered taking a class at the New School but I imagine the retirees gravitate that way too, and I thought about The Learning Annex but that seems like it's for NYC's white-trash get-rich-quick schemers ("How To Get A Raise With The Secrets of Hypnosis"), and I thought of taking some fitness class at the gym but that seems like it's full of desperate housewives, who are nowhere near as hot as the ones on TV.

When I was in college, where there was an ample supply of money to hand out to whatever Ivy League weirdos wanted to be lord protectorate of their own Ayn Rand club or an S&M club, it seemed like most of the non-aberrant students fell into one of three types of clubs. There were the club sports, the religious groups, and the ethnic clubs, although some clubs, like the table tennis club, seemed to overlap categories.

This arrangement left me feeling neglected. See, if you're going to join, for instance, the Dungeons & Dragons club or the volunteer suicide hotline, you say something about yourself — I'm a nerd who lives in a fantasy world or my voice is so mellifluous it can soothe jumpers off a ledge. I was never very comfortable revealing myself to my college peers — although I seem to have no problem sharing my intimate thoughts with God-knows-who's reading my blog — and that seemed to cut out a large segment of the social world. There were still the clubs where I could proclaim to the world "I'm bored, let's play ultimate frisbee" or "I'm Jewish."

But I'm not athletic.

And I'm agnostic, and there's no club for that, where we'd get no closer to deciding once and for all whether God exists.

And I don't have an ethnicity. Almost all of the undergraduates at Columbia are American-born, but there's a club celebrating pretty much anywhere in the world one's ancestors might be from: Korea, the Caribbean, the Ukraine, wherever. But despite all of Columbia's diversity, there was no club where I, as a non-redneck non-waspy white American of uncertain ancestry, could feel at home. I can already the Confederate flag hanging in our meeting hall, and that's not what I'm talking about. I'm always amused by the drawling Southern types still resentful of losing their plantations talking about how the statue of General Lee in the town square isn't an homage to slavery but rather an homage to antebellum culture, which only thrived thanks to slavery. If there's anything more insipid than Scarlett O'Hara sipping a mint julep while Mamie scrubs the floor, it's our contemporary white American culture: Ashlee Simpson and NASCAR and The DaVinci Code. God help us if we celebrate it.

What I'm talking about is a place where folks as pale as I am can go and proclaim nothing less superficial than "Look at the color of my skin." We can find one of the Children of the Corn and make him our club president. Anybody's welcome to join as long as they want to sit through some exciting conversation about topics that matter to white people, like sunscreen or how we can destroy that Kevin Federline asshole.