Do I look stupid to you?
Before you answer that, allow me to give you a couple of instances when I’ve been mistaken for a bonehead.
As a college freshmen, I opted to go to school in Michigan, far away from anyone and anything I remotely recognized. On top of that, I decided that rather than do something that comes naturally to me — say, be an English or a Communications major — I decided to take on economics instead.
I like a good challenge, and also I thought studying econ in the ’80s would be “fun.”
That was actually sort of an idiot maneuver, since math is not my strong suit, and nobody, save perhaps Paul Krugman*, thinks economics is “fun.”
Thus I spent hours in the library (for U of M alums, the “UGLI”), studying my ass off.
With my Walkman cranked to 11, because I like my music loud and hard. Makes me think better.
A few weeks into the semester, I made my way to a party where there were a lot of cute guys. Much to my surprise, a few of them were pointing at me.
Did I know any of those dudes from class? Was someone going to actually ask me out on a date? I ran to the bathroom, fluffed my perm, took a long pull on my Bartles & James “tropical” wine cooler and headed out with my best foot forward (clad in some low purple suede boots, clearly).
Trying to be nonchalant, I strategically placed myself near the pointing boys. My seductive ploy worked quickly, because in minutes a couple of the guys came over and struck up a conversation with me.
That it seemed more like a pop quiz than sexy, idle chit-chat escaped my attention initially, but then became apparent when one of them said, “HA! You’re actually not that stupid.”
Dumbly I responded, “I’m not stupid — I’m an Econ major.”
The boys went on to tell me that they had noticed me in the library, and thanks to the loud music that blared constantly from my Walkman, my crazy scribbling (I used to write and re-write notes to study), my loud slurping on Charms Blow Pops and subsequent gum chomping, they had come up with an endearing pet name for me: “The Stupidest Girl in the World.”
Taken aback, I did what any other stupid girl would do: I busted up laughing.
It was a good cover for shock and humiliation, until later back in my dorm, I kicked myself for not coming up with some smart-alecky, snappy retort, or at the very least, I should’ve tossed my Bartles & James in their sneering, STUPID faces.
(This story had a happy ending twist: turns out a couple of the pointing boys actually were in my classes, and over time they made their way to my corner of the UGLI to study with me, because — ahem, I WASN’T STUPID — and we ended up becoming good friends. Eventually, “the stupidest girl in the world” became an inside joke that we laughed about at many tailgates where a lifetime of free beer provided by the aforementioned pointing boys ALMOST made up for their initial judging my cover as if I didn’t know a book.)
Cut to decades later to just a few nights ago, when I found myself hurling back in time to the land of stupid moments.
Partially this was literal: I was celebrating my BBF’s (Best Bastard Forever) birthday by taking him, a friend and my college BBF (Best Bitches Forever) to see Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum’s Prince tribute band, Princess, play at the legendary West Hollywood rock club, Troubador.
Sadly, I couldn’t find my low-slung purple suede boots from back in the day, but happily I had my original Purple Rain concert tour t-shirt, giant hoop earrings, fishnets, miniskirt and bondage-y Doc Martens boots. My ensemble was like the ’80s said “I would die 4 U,” and it did… all over my body.
The closest restaurant was another legend in its own right, hearkening back to the Rat Pack days — Dan Tana’s. So it made perfect sense to meet there, grab a bite and head out to see the show.
Or so I thought.
The first sign of trouble was our being made to feel like a butt of some joke we didn’t know when we deigned to show up at Dan Tana’s on a Saturday night without a reservation. There was room at the bar, so we sauntered over, only to have my BBF boy ridiculed by the bartender for ordering sangria. OK, fine, we got it, and went for dirty old man drinks like a Martini and a 7 and 7, but still, there was a bad taste in our mouths that was ultimately not improved by the soggy and tasteless appetizers we chased the cocktails down with.
The ultimate insult, however, came just before we were about to leave. A gaggle of “gentlemen” in suits and ties were being poured by the bartender a round of something I couldn’t quite identify, and I innocently asked what they were drinking.
“Want some?” one of the men asked.
His face didn’t have a smile on it, and that should’ve been a warning signal to me. But in a stupid moment, I ignored my gut and said, “Sure.”
As I took the shot of what turned out to be Grappa, the humorless man started chanting, “Stoopid… stoopid… stoopid.”
There were probably 8 million smart things I could’ve done in that moment — thrown my drink in his face, slapped him, called over a manager, asked him if he kisses his wife/mother/sister/daughter with that mouth using my best Joe Pesci/Good Fellas impression… SO MANY THINGS!
To my credit, I didn’t laugh.
But I did exit silently, and although the rest of my night was full of girl power thanks to a stellar show by Princess, I couldn’t help feel like I was letting someone down.
Interestingly, that person wasn’t me.
It was my daughter, whom I just gave a t-shirt to that read, “The Future is Female” to. (PERFECT holiday gift, y’all!)
OK, it was also me. The lady with Carrie Brownstein’s new book, Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl, on her nightstand, Gloria Steinem’s latest, My Life on the Road, on her Kindle, and a fresh Lenny (Lena Dunham’s musings on Feminism, style, health, politics, etc.) in her inbox with this week’s installment featuring a piece called, “Cecile Richards Won’t Back Down.” (She’s the president of Planned Parenthood if you didn’t know =) (Oh, and MORE perfect holiday gifts — buy those books and also check out the Lenny store, stat!)
I am not stupid, but in the face of blatant misogyny and other reprehensible acts of ignorant behavior, I sometimes find myself dumbstruck.
As a former Econ major, I know that boycotts can be an effective way to hurt an offensive or dangerous institution. So I’m asking my bitches to please NEVER eat at Dan Tana’s — whether you live in the LA area or come here for a visit. If you have a vagina, love vaginas and/or respect people with vaginas, trust me, it’s not for you.
If you are a good ol’ boy who remembers when the men were men and the sheep were scared, then by all means — have at it. (But I’m also assuming you’re not reading this, so… yah.)
As a Communications major (master’s degree, for the record) and writer, I also know the pen is mightier than the sword, so I took to Yelp and shared this review:
“I went to Dan Tana’s because it seemed like a really fun, retro thing to do prior to catching a show at the Troubador. If by “retro,” I meant wading into the last bastion of misogyny in West Hollywood, then all I can say is “Mission accomplished!” Between the dismissive Maitre d’, who scoffed at my friends and me for not having a reservation and never got back to us even to say no dice, to the rude bartender that made fun of my (male) friend for ordering a sangria, and then finally, to the apparently regular patrons who chanted “stupid” at me when I accepted what I thought was a kind offer of a shot of Grappa… and NOBODY from the bartender to any of the waiters nearby said BOO – it was a really humiliating and upsetting experience. Oh, and 4 pieces of rubbery shrimp in a shrimp cocktail for $19 and barely cooked clams casino were no consolation prize, either. If you want retro or “classic,” I’d suggest you stay home and pop open a can of Ragu. At least you don’t have to worry that your pasta will come with a side of nasty.”
You can also see the review live here: http://www.yelp.com/biz/dan-tanas-west-hollywood?q=trudi%20r
Please feel free to mark it useful, funny or cool. That will push it up on their Yelp profile.
So if you see me unwrapping a Charms Blow Pop for a loud, lip-smacking slurp and cranking my iPhone up to 11, just know that I’m busy drowning out the sounds of stupidity that surround me. After all, we’re all born ignorant, but one really has to work hard to remain stupid. (Ben Franklin)
*If you know who Paul Krugman is, you’re definitely not stupid.