Hosing Down

Cultural Idiocy, Part 52

Since my mention last month of the bikini babe who was mercilessly snapping selfies in the park, several of you have shared with me your own encounters with the new fad of unleashed narcissism.

I recall the instant unease I experienced when I first stepped into the dwelling of a newly famous starlet at the conclusion of what I considered a very promising first night on the town. She turned on her living room lights and I was confronted with a veritable shrine she had fashioned to herself. Head shots, full shots, and poster blowups of this actress adorned the walls nearly from ceiling to floor, and above the fireplace was a gigantic (at least 5×6 feet!) oil painting of herself standing naked in front of an ornate mirror, her reflected eyes positioned to stare at the portrait’s viewer. Yes, staring down at the viewer – clearly there had never been a question as to where this painting was destined to be mounted.

My urge to perform a similar activity with her would have left me entirely, were it not for a strange feeling that quickly sprang upon me – a sudden interest in verifying the promise and accuracy of that painting. Just another little stop in my ongoing search for truth.

Soon she flicked on her bedroom light and I nearly screamed, being confronted by a whole lot of people face to face. They seemed to be everywhere and they all looked exactly like me and her.

They were me and her. Our reflections, actually; the walls and ceiling of the room were made of mirrors. During the ensuing activity her eyes never left them. It was unbelievable, and while I didn’t exactly relish being in competition with her own reflection, I thought this sort of thing needs documentation so that I’ll be able to actually believe it later on. So, the next time (the following night, if you must know) I was able to set up a small video camera while she busied herself preparing for the next rounds. When I told her about it a couple of days later, she slapped me and called me a lot of things I can’t say in a family paper like this. I mean, I’ve heard about PMS and all that stuff, but this chick went berserk!

Got that all on tape, too. I look upon it (often) as little more than a learning experience. I’ve learned she favors her left side. A lot. Heck, she’s in love with it. That’s just show biz, I guess.

Two other things have come to really bother me about photos with friends and acquaintances, and they have little to do with narcissism but much to do with idiocy and Invasion of the Body Snatchers-type conformity.

First, let’s take your classic two-shot. Someone’s taking a picture of two people, perhaps out at night at some really happening venue, having a wonderful time. The two are facing the camera, maybe with arms around each other, smiling. But what’s going on when one of the people in the shot makes it a point to point a finger at the other person? Sure, smiling at you, the viewer, and pointing at the other person. What’s this idiot trying to say? “Hey, this guy’s really zany!”? “We both know about this guy!”? “You wanted to know if there is a human being alive who eats his own young? Well, here he is!”?

I usually take it one of two ways. Either the person pointing is making a pathetic attempt to appear humble (“Oh, forget about me, this is the cat you should be looking at!”) or he is taking unacceptable liberties with the status of his perception of your shared relationship (“We know what we’re both thinking about this dude, don’t we?”), which is downright rude. The probable truth behind the pointing, however, is that the pointer is merely doing what he often sees other people do, and so it’s obviously a “cool” thing that “cool” people do, so that’s “cool,” right?

Now comes the situation of the group photo. Five friends are out having the time of their lives and entrust you with their camera phone to snap a shot of them together for posterity. You are happy to help them out and the picture turns out fabulously. These five friends cherish the shot in the years to come. An interesting feature of the picture is the fact that several of the friends are making strange hand signs. Not peace signs or devil horns, but two-fingers-spread-held-horizontally-with-palm-toward-chest style or middle-three-fingers-curled-under style, or several other permutations of digital acrobatics that started in the late eighties when “gangstas” took their own group photos. Here we are, over 25 years later and the bourgeoisie has adopted an affectation that used to be a challenge and a warning as their very own method of visually saying, “How cool is this? I’m not really in a gang, man, I’m just joking, but doesn’t this crack you up?”

Yes, it might have been amusing 25 years ago. We got the joke and we’re over it, aren’t we?

Hell no. People will continue to make these absurd hand signs in group shots because everyone else does it, so it’s gotta be “cool.” I look upon fingers pointing in pictures and ultimately meaningless hand signals in group shots as evidence that the pod people have indeed landed among us.

They certainly were present on the evenings of August 14 and 15 when your humble Hose was hired to sing in two delightful suite parties at the Crowne Plaza during the awesome Tiki Oasis bash. The parties were hosted by ChiChi Martini and Señor Amor of the Golden Tiki in Las Vegas, and amid the music, mirth, and drinking (not me; on September 3 I will have been clean of everything for two years!) was an aura of frivolity and lust. Whew. A space-age brunette stripper went on before me Saturday night and gave me a space-age stir where it matters.

When my own little show was finished I spent a good amount of time meeting people, thanking them for their compliments, being hugged by several delicious babes, and posing for a lot of pictures with kind people. When I noticed that many of the arms draped around my waist or shoulders terminated with various hand signals, I was careful to retain my honest smile as I held my horizontal-middle-digit-extended right hand over my heart, pointing, perhaps, at destiny.

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