You don't want to associate with the riff raff do you?
Where I grew up we have country clubs and beach clubs that include certain people and exclude others. The kind of people who are included are white, wealthy, upper-class and the kind who are excluded would be everyone else. They reserve a special hatred of anyone in the film industry. I think the only person they ever allowed, and I don't know how he got in, was Jimmy Stewart. The Reagan's are members but not on paper and only very discreetly. I'm sure you have places like these too. Maybe worse.
I detest this place for solid moral and ethical reasons, and yet I feel ashamed to love what I remember having once enjoyed about it. The grounds are so beautiful. Acres and acres of green rolling hills right in the heart of my incredibly congested city. The club house is one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings of it's size in the whole city. My father and mother centered their social lives around this exclusive place. He played golf and she played bridge or tennis. I would come for occasional dinners or to watch the puppet shows, see Santa at Christmas, and hunt for eggs, and see the Easter Bunny at Easter. It was the closest thing that my very small family had to a gathering place and there are many good memories associated with it. I can think of wandering around the gardens at night and looking back at the warmly lit house in the background or stroll the hallways and look at the great garden parties that were once held on the lawn. Where women in long white dresses walked with parasols and children and carried delicate china cups of tea and happy sunburned husbands came in and joined them after a day on the course. Los Angeles was young then, and beautiful on the surface.
My father was the best golfer at the club, maintaining a scratch handicap at age seventy. They called him Pipeline and fingers for the strange way he liked to tape them and everyone wanted to play with him. I was proud of my father.
He belonged to groups within groups, making his circle even more rarefied and impossible to join. The men have their own clubhouse and bar, locker rooms and Lord only knows what else that we were never allowed to enter. When they would accept a new member into their inner circle that they laughingly dubbed The Mafia, they would tease him mercilessly, calling him New Boy until he had somehow managed to prove himself. The last man I remember them doing this to is now a billionaire and travels in his own private jet.
I remember this feeling of always being on guard, as if I was constantly being scrutinized for infractions of the dress code or manner violations. I never felt as if I was good enough, or that I fit in. Now I wonder if that is because my mother never truly felt as if she deserved to be there, as if at any moment she would be found out as a plain girl just one generation away from poverty in Arizona, and passed those feelings on to me. Or if it might have had something to do with my being adopted, and worse whispered behind my mother's back, that I don't really come from the right stock. Or that I might at any moment burst out into unladylike peals of laughter or God forbid wear a pair of "slacks." It is only very recently that women were allowed to wear pants. Can you imagine that?
Family get togethers for weddings, parties, meals and especially holidays are so idyllic, with cascades of twinkle lights, waiters and head waiters in starched white uniforms, tables laden with silver and crystal, buffets full of complicated foods piled high on tray after tray for your choosing. Everything is yours for the asking with just a signature and your number, jotted down on a small pad set discreetly by your side. No tipping is allowed despite the fact that this lovely, friendly staff have known you from birth and always remember you with friendly greetings. It all seems so nice until you consider the fact that everyone looks the same. I actually enrolled my son for summer camp at the beach version of this club a few years ago, against the deep feeling in my heart that says this is so wrong. Then after noticing that not a single child had hair darker than a light shade of brown, I became so ambivalent I hardly took him, and then every summer since when my mother begs me to enroll him I beg off.
There are good people who work at these clubs, and there are good people who belong to these clubs, but I know that the system is inherently wrong. When I talk to people about it who are my age and who I assume would care about these hideous exclusionary policies they say the system is changing but slowly and to be patient. It reminds me of my discussion with the priest when I wanted to have my son baptized Catholic. When I started to challenge his stance on men being the head of the home, and asked about The Crusades and The Borgias, book burning, Vatican secrecy and various and sundry other evils of the church, he said I could attack from without and affect little change, or I could work on changing the system from within and that kind of shut me up for a while.
My feelings about it have run the gamut from thinking it's evil, burning my little parking passes and refusing to go for years, to going along and having an occasional meal for the sake of my mother. So here for your reading enjoyment is a list of clothing don'ts, my mother had her housekeeper bring over for me to acquaint myself with. I never go so it doesn't make much difference to me but I thought I'd put it up here for you to see, just for the heck of it.
"The *** ******* ******* Club
DRESS CODE VIOLATIONS
Recently the Club staff has had to deal with several infractions of the Club's dress code. The most frequent infractions are:
Pedal Pushers / Capri Pants / Spandex Pants
Cargo-style slacks with pockets on the side of the legs.
Tube Tops, Tops without Straps, Collars or Sleeves;
Blouses or shirts designed to be worn inside skirts or slacks
Crop tops that expose the midriff above the skirt or slacks
Denim and jeans-style clothing of various colors
Multi-colored Athletic Footwear, Go-aheads, Clogs or other types
of Beach Shoes
Shorts, including shorts on young boys.
The Board of Directors urges the membership to examine what they are wearing to the Club and to explain to their guests the Club's dress code - especially as it relates to children and grandchildren.
The Club's staff has been directed to make the enforcement of the Club's dress code a high priority. To avoid embarrassment to you or your guests, please abide by the Club's dress guidelines."
I don't remember when I last used the word slacks, and I don't even know what Go Aheads are. Well, I guess that means I won't be hosting any Burning Man video viewing parties there.
Oh great, I went looking for a little image to go along with this journal and I stumbled across the most evil, hateful, horrible, vicious web site. I'm not going to post it here so you can ask for it privately if you like but I feel sick, I knew things like this existed but I was shocked to see it and want to go lie down. Good God help us. They have a game there called hang the nigger and you can try to put the noose around the figures neck. Do you remember that song that Billie Holiday used to sing, Strange Fruit, I wish I had an mp3 of that to link in here for you to clear the air of their evil. Then of course I had to click on a link to uglypeople.com and see that everyone there is mostly fat and female. Ooh what a fabulous dose of sobering reality for my happy little cyber afternoon.
On a lighter, but perhaps not too light, note I finally got things straightened out with Save The Children and got my packet today. We got a little girl in Nepal like we wanted. She lives in a tiny impoverished town just north of Katmandu. She is so precious looking. I want to pick her up and kiss her but since I can't it looks like I'm going to write a letter and put lots of flat little things in it like stickers and hair ribbons and a bracelet or five. They won't let us send packages, because the nearest road to their village is a six hour walk, and the mail carriers run it with the mail on their backs. So here's to our little sponsor child and her family; Kopila Tamang, with her red, paint smudged forehead, and pink, flower sprinkled hair, with green, jade beads around her neck for luck, and the hope that someone like me would care enough to send a little bit of money every month, and write to her once in a while. These are the things that for me, make life worthwhile. Not worrying about whether I've got the right "plain white athletic shoes."