Flaxen Haired Darling

“I’m the blonde! get to be the princess!” the words echo in my mind 25 years later. The year was 1989. The location, Hillsborough, California. I lived across the tracks in the less ostentatious suburb of Burlingame. Preschool was cancelled that day due to the rain and we’d just finished watching the biggest blockbuster since E.T., The Princess Bride. When the movie commenced, we decided to play the characters. “Well, I’m the prettier one! I should be the princess!” I stomped my foot indignantly. The girl’s mother frowned and picked up the phone. I’d insulted her flaxen haired darling. Play time was over.

I don’t remember her name now, but the point is moot. Blondes learn from a young age that they are special. Now that I’m an adult, the argument is less over who’s the princess and more over who gets the guy. Instead of, “I’m the blonde! should be the princess!,” they know they already are. It’s more like, “I’m the blonde! should get the d*ck!,” and they do.

Fast forward to 2011. After just 3 months of lessons, I’m dating the hottest guy in the studio. It’s against the rules, but we are barely discreet about it. A sideways glance across the Ballroom, a giggle at an inappropriate time, a hickey in a visible spot make it glaringly obvious. All the Orange County Stepford Wives at the place change their demeanor toward me. Instead of hello, now I’m paying $900 a month to be snarled at by spoiled brats on the sidelines and disgruntled divorcees. 

The whirlwind ends and another gets him. She gets him the same way I did. She’s older; crow’s feet show the wear of her ravaged mind. She’s like them. A golden haired mold of homogeny and silicone. She broke the rules but they don’t care. They flock to the golden one. Instead of hello, they get to know her name, inquire about the kids, invite her out for drinks. She broke the rules but it’s OK because she’s sameness and I’m different. He, too, adores the golden one, and not just because of her gold. He speaks to her in soft tones. He strokes her arm like the mane of a timid puppy. He stays with her for years, buys her petty things. He becomes a live in lover, masseuse, and nanny. He does all this because the light of this golden trophy enshrouds him in the glow. Society approves of this match!

Like the raven black of my hair, I fade like a shadow on the wall, a shadow in his mind, and then I’m not at all.

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OC Duds Pt. 2

The second variety of these studley duds is far more dangerous than the first. They are not after your financial capital…yet. Rather, they are testing the waters to see if you really are the BBD, or “bigger, better deal,” and they should leave their current partner to be with you. These rovers of South County already have fiancees and girlfriends. But they are unsure about committing to the woman they’ve been stringing along for years, which is where you come in. They’re narcissistic athletic types who beat the Orange County odds. They did not end up in rehab for heroin or pill abuse. They know they are in high demand. They also know that their women know it. So when they make eyes at that brunette spinner waitress at Javier’s, Barbie orders valium chasers and pretends not to notice.

My first encounter with Studley Dudley Numero Uno occurred 4 years ago when I moved to Laguna Beach from San Francisco. I worked at a trendy health food store in the area straight out of college – hey, I’m a Liberal Arts undergrad who finished school two months after the market crashed, don’t judge me – and said dud was my boss. We’ll refer to him as Phil, short for philanderer. This dud’s backstory is narcissistic to say the least: good looking half-Polynesian surfer whose natural tan is the envy of all the South County WASPs. He’s dark complected, yet not swarthy enough to be considered too exotic for the demographic. Before the grocery store gig, he used to cut hair for Toni and Guy. This was most likely the plot to be Edward Scissorhands in the land of horny housewives. Nevertheless, I should have known by his former profession and noticeable lack of bulge from his skinny jeans (yes, skinny jeans!) that he was not the man he claimed to be.

Phil had phelt up all the new-hires prior to me working there. I was a 20-something cliché: a wide-eyed, giggly girl who was enthusiastic about the future (this was prior to Obama’s four-year flop). He was tied into a relationship that would probably end in nuptials. I took his flirting as harmless small talk. A brush of the hand on my hip as he passed my register, warm breath on my neck as he stood behind and examined my cash box, sensuous baritones rippling through my ears telling me to “go to break” when it was time for lunch. He looked hopeful as he inquired, “So, what are you doing later?” “Going to Hennessey’s with some friends. You?” “Oh. Eating dinner….with…..my……….girlfriend. Andthengoingtobed. She’s rich, you know. Well, her family is. She actually works at MAC, but she’s a good investment, you know?” **insert Hipster hair flick here**

I ignored it for a while. And then I was fired up. All this back-and-forth must mean something! It’s meant to be! He’s the soulmate I’ve been searching for! He WILL leave his girlfriend for me! We WILL get married and have gorgeous mocha colored children! He would not be saying these things unless he really meant them, right? RIGHT?

It was House night at Brussels Bistro, a tightly packed restaurant turned after-hours club in downtown Laguna. I was already 3 drinks in with my friend, Russian Supermodel, and we were grooving to the beats of Sander Kleinenberg, one of our favorite DJs. Phil shows up with his arm candy, escorts her to the bar, and dumps her there with some frumpy females. He stands in the corner, disregards Russian Supermodel, and watches me dance. When Arm Candy is not looking, he approaches me. Left hand on hip, breath on my neck, sensuous baritones rippling. He hesitates. “See you later,” he says, grabs Arm Candy, and goes.

Phil is in hot water with Arm Candy. He must redeem himself, so he does what any douchey dud would do: unfriends me, constructs your standard “psycho bitch” tale, and ignores me from then on. I’m convinced that Passive-Aggressive Personality Disorder and lack of bulge must be directly proportional!

OC Duds

Slade Smiley from the Real Housewives of Orange County grosses me out. Typical OC dud — er, dude. He is an unmotivated slacker who doesn’t work, doesn’t pay bills, has various legal troubles, and wants to be supported by his trophy girlfriend. Sounds about par.

What is it about these OC guys that promotes such losery behavior? Word to my South County sisters: you can provide for him ’till he’s drained all your financial capital. But at the end of the day, there will always be someone blonder, bustier, and with a more beneficiary bank account to deter your live-in gigolo’s affections.

So Why Are They Here?

The 8 o’clock hour arrives and aloof loner types stand against the wall avoiding eye contact and staring out the glass panes that line the building. The music has started but no one is on the floor. They are huddling near the back, pouring hooch from a suspicious paper bag into half-filled coke cups. Powder, Poser, Pretentious, Plump Girl and Mother, all there.

Plump Girl says she’s been dancing since 4. But art school could not afford charisma. “So now she’s a big fish in a small pond,” gloats Mother. “She’s the best.” “Yeah, I’m the BEST!” echoes Plump Girl.

Powder, Poser, and Pretentious could not tell you what their favorite dance is. They have watched Dancing with the Stars a few times but don’t give a hoot about the sport. “Dancing is not really about dancing,” Pretentious says. “It’s about having fun and spending time with your instructor. We’re going to Vegas next weekend – the Bellagio, of course two rooms. What do you think? I’m separated, NOT divorced. Yet.” “Dancing is all about sex,” chuckles Powder. “Actually, it’s about winning. I always win because I know everyone,” interjects Poser.

Students searching for surrogates.

The Things You’re Not Supposed to Say

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Ballroom dance in the last three years, it’s that image is everything. Ballroom dance has always had a pristine reputation with its outsiders. Shows like Dancing with the Stars portray it as a fun past time where your worries and weight fall away from you and sculpt you into a marvelous human being. It is perhaps the only industry where traditional gender roles are still in play, however. Women take a proverbial beating – mental, physical, emotional – and are expected to “get back in the kitchen,” or, in this case, frame. Suck it up (suck it in?), don’t say anything, and smile! Even if your horizontal Mambo partner is having an affair with the newly divorced Sally Soccermom who needs a hobby while the kids are in school. As they say in Show Biz, the show must go on! And not just a showcase or competition, but the portrayal that everything is OK and you and your dance partner can “still be friends.” Society wants to believe that there’s still a community untouched by the realities of human error. But dancers do not dance for fun. They dance because they love it, because they need to, because their passion for music and movement drive them to be dancesport competitors.

Like callouses developed from leather strapped shoes, there is an emotional hardening that comes with the industry. The first year is mental boot-camp. Why should your coaches take pity on you? Why should they make exceptions? They’ve seen it all before, if not lived through it. There’s a sense of brotherhood that comes from the pain. Don’t you dare talk about it with non-dancers. Don’t you dare betray the community. We’re all carrying the same hurt, but that’s what unites us.

 

The Real Stepford Housewives of Orange County

Orange County, a suburban bubble of contradictions. A cracked consciousness lurks beneath the smooth exterior of a perfectly Botoxed face. Veneers are flashed without the mouth conforming to a smile. A place so beautiful that you don’t want to believe the stereotypes. Your brain muddles denial with reality. Natural beauty is celebrated only in its landscapes. The curves considered desireable are the ones that guide Bentleys and Maseratis down the PCH toward the nearest cultivated waterway. Or the ones you paid for. Money can’t buy tolerance, but wealth indicates social acceptance. Stepford Wives dominate the dating scene, faking orgasms for diamond rings and material things. You’ve got your male gold-diggers, older women with younger men, and wealthy widows waiting to pounce on your age-inappropriate boyfriend. Marriage is for the birds. Send your kids to boarding school. Valium-induced affairs are the new fountain of youth. And as long as there’s always someone younger and hotter fucking you, you’re still relevant. Even if not, you could buy your way into someone’s silicone enhanced chest. It’s OK, because they put Prozac in the water, and the truth is a drag anyway.