While watching The SIsterhood of the Traveling Pants Saturday night, so many questions kept pounding my cranium, I thought my head was going to explode (of course, it could've just been the Chantix):
Why can't they keep Alexis Bledel's dye job consistent?
Why is Blake Lively playing "the jock" when she runs like an epileptic triple-amputee?
Why do they have Amber Tamblyn playing a teenager when she's got hips and wrinkles?
Why is America Ferrera claiming to be Puerto Rican when her ass is so clearly not Puerto Rican?
(I actually have the sneaking suspicion it was actually me, but I will never own up to it, damnit.)
But the thing that really bugged me, besides the fact that, since Poohbutt, the wife and I can't watch sick kid flicks, the trite plot, and contrived characters, was that the Tamblyn character worked in a Walmart clone here in Bethesda, Maryland. One, this edge city is way too highfalutin to actually have a Walmart. Two was the question that kept bugging me the whole night: Do white kids even work in Bethesda?
Now, I've worked in this glamorous burb for seven years now and have lived here almost a year and a half, and I'll be damned if I've ever seen nary a white kid working an after-school or summer job.
"Would you like fries with that?" "Paper or plastic?" "Can I get that for you, sir?" usually come out of brown, yellow, or black lips and usually with a funny, little accent.
All the jobs I used to associate with suburban adolescence are now occupied by immigrant adults. My "paperboy" ain't seen puberty in decades and most of the Latinas at McDonald's are struggling trying to pay their AARP dues.
Now, I don't know what came first: did a lack of gainful employment force working-class adults into the service industry, forcing the kids out or did the kids' leaving service make room for an immigrant workforce? I don't have any clue how that played out. I don't even know if this is strictly a class thing: have the middle- and upper-classes decided that their kids' only job is school, and they don't need to "prematurely" enter the work force? Maybe it's just a DC thing? An urban phenomenon? Maybe it's just a white thang and I wouldn't understand.
I had a paper route when I was 11, and I worked at a Phar-Mor when I was 16. In the former case, I wanted the money--for comic books and Atari cartridges. In the latter, I needed the money. With my mom and stepdad separating, we wuz po'. A brutha had to eat! So, I'm not going to act like getting an after-school job build character or gives one valuable work experience or puts hair on your chest. Work sucks! As my Dad always asks, "If work's so great, why do they have to pay you?" I say, be born rich and avoid work lie the plague!
It's just that, one day (probably in the next few months), I'd like Poohbutt to get a job (hell, she can walk and "talk" already--it's time for her to pull her own weight). After all, a part-time job builds character, gives one valuable work experience, and will put hair on my girl's chest. I don't understand how school is supposed to be a kid's "job." I was expected to do well in school, well at work, and wash dishes and clean the bathroom. It was all about introducing my pubescent butt to the adult world. As was the after-school job itself. Geting shit on for a paycheck is a very important lesson to learn. Much more relevant to most of our future than calculus could ever be.
Now, I realize that times change and priorities change with them. I just hope they change back by the time Pooh gets her learner's permit. I'd like for her to learn those valuable, utterly humiliating, dehumanizing lessons before she enters college. But in a snooty place like Bethesda with noses so far in the air they tickle God's ass, are teenagers with jobs relegated to leper status? Do other teens whisper behind your child's back? Ask in overly dramatic whispers, "Are your parents having, like, you know, troubles?" Do they start up collections for your baby? Throw celebrity, charity events? Will I one day find Poohbutt screaming in Bethesda High's hallways, "I am not an animal!!!"