Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wanting Part Two

There is another day that stands out in my self survey of wanting. This time it is early morning and I am dressing for work. It will be a full day and a tense one. I am looking through jewelry boxes (no I never bought the necklace, it lost its appeal after about 20 days) But I have lots of other badly wanted and had-to-have pieces. I look through dresser drawers, pick up and put down silk scarves, finger some very nice belts, but uncharacteristically I am stumped. I don’t know what I want to wear. I hear myself say out loud, “What am I looking for?” and it strikes me, this too is a kind of wanting. I am shopping in my own closet and wanting some perfect accessory to do something for me today.

I step back from the closet and sit down. What do I want, and why is the choice so hard today? I stop and picture the upcoming activities on today’s schedule. Oh, I see, it’s going to be a difficult day with lots of meetings and most of them with difficult people. There will be several Board meetings and a session with entitled and cranky volunteers. Now I know what it is I am looking for in my shelves and drawers. I want to hang something around my neck, some badge or scapular disguised by silk twill or 14K gold that says simply and clearly: “Do Not Fuck With Me.”

As my real need becomes clear I laugh. Maybe gangsta jewelry is not so bad after all.
Maybe rapper chains with tough words on them are more honest than the Hermes scarf or a John Hardy bracelet. Those designer pieces require translation. A nice fat chain with “Fuck Off” in block letters edged in rhinestones would communicate well even to those who are not trained in sartorial translation.

Lots and lots of words have been written accusing advertising for creating consumer demand. Yes, fine, they’re right, but that’s not the whole story. You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him wear Hermes or drink Evian. I know that I am highly susceptible to the influence of advertising but I don’t believe that Madison Avenue is the all powerful and malevolent “other” who makes me want. There is something in me that reaches out to the wanting as much as the advertising reaches in; I am at best a partner and at worst an accomplice.

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