Thursday, February 24, 2005

A long time ago in these pages I mentioned that Scottsdale, one of the cities surrounding Phoenix, was sort of the equivalent of Westlake in Austin. But that's not really accurate, because Scottsdale is also the defining area of The Valley of the Sun. Folks here don't want to live in Phoenix (which is not really considered much of a destination at all). Scottsdale is where the rich folks live and spend money, and where folks of more modest means live in order to bathe in the glow. It's where Mike Tyson disappeared to, and even luminaries such as Maureen O'Hara make it their home. It's the part of town where people actually own H2s and can't understand why you don't shop at the Pottery Barn (although there are vast expanses where Pottery Barn is more or less considered dorm furniture). To associate yourself with Scottsdale is to associate yourself with a certain image of wealth and beauty and a happening night life, etc...

But the point is, it's not just living in Scottsdale, it's the dream of living in Scottsdale.

A few days ago I trekked down to the Supercuts, which is where The League chooses to spend his meager pay on keeping his hair out of his eyes. Parted to the side, kept high and tidy... This time, despite the fact that I walked in with pretty much exactly the haircut I wanted and I gave the same instructions I give EVERY time I get my haircut, something went wrong. Not too wrong, but the girl didn't really leave it the way I wanted it, and then she started spiking my hair straight up. Sort of in the fashion of, say, Ashley Simpson's rhythm guitarist. This was immediately after I'd explained I worked in an office and was headed right back to work.

So I returned to my office, having tried desperately to smooth down my hair, and explained to my co-workers that I was NOT happy with my haircut, and if they could ignore the little spikes of hair going everywhere, I'd appreciate it. Thank you.

"But that's the style," one of my co-workers insisted.
"I could care less."
"All the guys are spiking their hair straight up."
"I'm 6'5" and chubby. I don't need a hair cut ten years too young for me and meant for guys really into Blink-182 drawing attention to my Klingon head."
"But that's the style."
And that's sort of how I feel about the whole deal. 1) If you don't go with the asinine WB/MTV house-approved hair style, you're doing it wrong. And people genuinely feel you're doing it wrong. 2) It was a stupid looking hair cut, and it wasn't what I asked for (if I wanted fancy, God knows I would not be going to Supercuts), and yet the Supercuts lady gave it to me because it was the style. Because that's what the beautiful people in Scottsdale are doing.

I'm surprised the barber didn't glue the all-popular chin fuzz to my face all the kids are sporting.

And do you know what the hot new trend is which is being sold at the Abercrombie and Fitch? I know this, because I work near Abercrombie and Fitch... It's basically the Izod/ Polo/ expensive "golf shirt" with the collar turned up. Which was a good idea about the same time as Teen Wolf was a swell notion.

Even then it was a stupid sort of thing to do, but there have been so many, many dumber things since then, that I think a little upturned collar is probably manageable. I'm just surprised that, for their personal styling, folks are adopting movie short-hand for rich, arrogant, bastards in sore need of a come-uppance. It's sort of like getting a top hat and growing a long mustache you plan to twirl.

But I guarantee you this. By Monday, all the kids in Scottsdale will be wearing their collars turned up to match their bleached hair and chin-slinkees.

But part of not going nuts out here has involved saying to yourself "Okay, I have absolutely zero interest in playing golf, in going shopping at The Biltmore, in going and looking at resorts I am not staying at. But I don't need to be a jerk about it to the folks who live here and that's why they moved here." They moved here to be young and beautiful, to live in a place where it's sunny all the time (but you still fake-tan), to be able to golf at over 400 courses. They moved here to spend two or three years having get away weekends to San Diego and Sedona before they shoot out their own version of Kelsey and Tyler, give the little runts a credit card, and, when they're 18, the kids go to the state university.

"So have you and Jamie made it up to Scottsdale on the weekends?"
"No. Not really."
"You should go up there." My co-worker had sort of brought the topic up, unprovoked, during lunch.
"It's like an hour drive from my house," I shrugged. "That's a hike to go grab dinner."
"Where have you been?" my other co-worker asked.
"I dunno. Sometimes we come up to Tempe."
"You need to come up to Scottsdale."
"To do what?"
"To see the resorts." (I've learned not to question this. You're supposed to go and marvel at hotels you can't afford to stay at.)
"And there are a lot of places to eat up there."
"You need to go."
"It's like an hour. That's like, if I were in Austin, jumping in the car and going to San Antonio for dinner."
"There's other stuff to do."
"Okay. Like what?"
"We have a movie theater..."
And he was sort of getting pissed at this point. And do what? Go out to eat and then do what? I'm all for a nice meal, but I think an hour to drive to sit in a restaurant is kind of far. I'm not really interested in looking in store windows and hanging out at hotels I'm not staying at...
But I couldn't shake the feeling he was taking my disinterest as a personal attack, so I made something up about going up there and he sort of let it go.

I want to have fun. I really do. I like to, uh, hoot and holler. But sometimes people's definitions of a good idea just don't mesh. There's something about the worship of glamour and leisure which seems disingenuous, and trying to be somewhere just to say you were somewhere without somehow, I don't, at least trying to not just be a tourist in your own town seems like an odd choice.

And I guess this is what they mean by "outside the mainstream". If we learned one thing in the past year, it's that it is bad to not be caught up in the middle of what the hell else everyone else is doing. And don't mistake this for some sign of me patting myself on the back for feeling that living an hour outside of anything considered interesting is some sort of rebellion. This is a goddamn pity party if there ever was one.

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