I walk into the bar with three friends. The group of young 19 or 20 looking girls turn their heads slightly. I size up each of their mate values. I infer the amount of time they spent in the mirror before arriving. I position myself in close proximity to the attractive girls’ group while trying to get a non-alcoholic drink from the painfully slow bartender. A latin dance song blares on the stereo, the girls are rocking their hips back and forth. I see myself dancing with them in my mind’s eye. I don’t dance with them. I think some more about dancing with them. The prospect of taking one of them home is floating in a cloud so close above my head it is within my grasp. Now, how do I go about speaking with one of them. Buying them shots of vodka is out, I don’t drink. That would be fun. I used to love greasing the wheels of conversation and disarming the inhibition center. I would love to be free of the self-censor just for a few hours. I shimmy to the left a few steps when the attractive 20-year olds line up to get a drink.
“So are you from Bayside or what?” I say.
“No, I’m from Long Island.” Jane Doe says.
“Oh, do you go to school there?” I mutter. Just go home.
I’m attempting in vain to travel back in time to the days of: drink alcohol until whoever is in the bar is fun, attractive and the object of my slobbering affection. There is a parallel reality that life can take on at the bar or club, everything is teeming with possibility, sensuality. My gluttonous consumption of movies and good-guy-gets-pretty -lady plot lines has molded the architecture in my mind upon which repetitive narratives are played out every time I have ever entered a bar. My mind has constructed the playing field upon which my emotions will exist and duel with each other on the field of courtship tonight. Similar to the way Leo constructs the shore of his subconscious in Inception that he washes up on and constructs his murderous dead wife trying to kill him as a way to keep her sickness and co-dependence alive. Am I simply a victim of advertising and mass media? Maybe free will doesn’t actually exist. There is no bar tonight, it is the bar in Peter’s mind. There are supporting actors in the movie that I star in. The supporting actors serve only to either validate my ego or to reject my advances; merely conflict and story arc. My ego must eventually win out because Christian Bale always gets the girl at the end. I can’t conceive of any other ending. My brain is wired this way by the school of Hollywood beauty and triumph. The individual must win, more specifically, the masculine and good-looking and man MUST win. Anything else and my machine’s wiring will spazz out and short fuse.
Two hours later, a wide eyed 20 year old guy is making out with the bright eyed 20 year old that I had an abortion of a conversation with. Good for him, he can enjoy the sedated elation with the pretty girl. I remember fondly the synthetic smiles I employed at 20 and the liquid courage that pulsated in my veins. I’m passing that buck onto you, man. The drunk 20 year old girls need talking to and kissing. I can’t play a part for the night anymore. I can’t live multiple lives anymore. The gravitational pull of the jukebox and the base line penetrate my vibrational field. The trance it puts guys in makes us believe that taking home the hottest one is at arm’s reach. For every guy in the bar, that hope is what keeps him swigging his beer or mixed drink for the night, that keeps his hips moving, keeps his mouth moving, spouting off what he needs to, to get in her pants.
I take a few pulls of the sleek e-cigarette of my friend. My abstractions and lofty sexual fantasies are levitated higher into the stratosphere as I stare into the road outside the bar. Now the thought of sex with the hottest one acts as a mild sedative, so the thought of actually talking with her and the gaggle of vixens around her is less appealing. I reason and bargain with my wimpy self and try to bully him for a few hours until now I have the courage to get up and dance. There seems to be a higher percentage of men in this bar. We encircle the minority of women on the dance floor, like apes encircling prey or making their preparations for a courting ritual on the African savannah.
Does the Queen bee have an identity outside of hottest girl in the bar? Is that your crowning achievement and role in life, girl? Congrats, you’re the hottest girl in the bar. Are you a real person or just a facade of make-up? I share this bitter sentiment with Louis C.K.. I share this inability to see attractive women as human, or sympathetic figures with actual problems. A friend might say to me, Pete, you’re attractive and believing that you’re crippled by depression and loneliness is just not realistic, so no I don’t have sympathy for you. You’re good-looking so no, I just don’t buy that you’re crippled with feelings of existential dread and worthlessness. I am completing the circle of my hypocrisy again. An actor can’t be a good writer. A model can’t be a talented painter or musician. Stay in the box I want you in! Stop trying to be a multi-faceted spectrum of contradictions like every human!!
You’re hot and make millions on modeling and advertising gigs. So what if you have an eating disorder and feel unable to be loved for your internal qualities and only feel used by men who want to use you as a trophy to co-opt your fame and status. I must keep you, famous model and hot girl, securely in the catalogue of boxes in my mind, as the object of my envy and hatred. What else can I do with my internal discomfort, the nagging feeling of my own vanity and inability to connect? Feel it to its full depth and learn from it as a way to treat others with more compassion? I can’t handle putting the flashlight on my own prejudices, seeing my weaknesses as a uniting force in all people, seeing it in the attractive ones with millions of dollars who are more miserable than I am. The endless coveting the praise the model receives only needs to be increased like any continuing addiction to a drug in order to continue to be effective.
How should I expect the attractive girl to respond to my advances? When cult-ure and advertising imprints on her the expectation of perfection, the expectation of a living idol, a living God in some ways, an object to be glorified for her role in pleasing men because the ad agency has to make money and the corporate foot soldier needs to feed his family. The ends justify the means even if advertising is no more than an exercise in subconscious programming and priming the naive and gullible TV watching sleepwalkers. Is it a completely reasonable response for the model to become jaded and angry at men when the value society has bestowed upon her is solely: sex and lust object? Am I a willing and impactful participant in this when I turn on my TV every day and buy the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition?
“Thus the “brainy” economy designed to produce this happiness is a fantastic vicious circle which must either manufacture more and more pleasures or collapse—providing a constant titillation of the ears, eyes, and nerve ends with incessant streams of almost inescapable noise and visual distractions. The perfect “subject” for the aims of this economy is the person who continuously itches his ears with the radio, preferably using the portable kind which can go with him at all hours and in all places. His eyes flit without rest from television screen, to newspaper, to magazine, keeping him in a sort of orgasm-with-out-release through a series of teasing glimpses of shiny automobiles, shiny female bodies, and other sensuous surfaces, interspersed with such restorers of sensitivity—shock treatments—as “human interest” shots of criminals, mangled bodies, wrecked airplanes, prize fights, and burning buildings. The literature or discourse that goes along with this is similarly manufactured to tease without satisfaction, to replace every partial gratification with a new desire. For this stream of stimulants is designed to produce cravings for more and more of the same, though louder and faster, and these cravings drive us to do work which is of no interest save for the money it pays—to buy more lavish radios, sleeker automobiles, glossier magazines, and better television sets, all of which will somehow conspire to persuade us that happiness lies just around the corner if we will buy one more.”
― Alan Watts, The Wisdom of Insecurity
I like that, modern society is an orgasm-without-release. Never-ending stimulation and anticipation leading to…… more stimulation, more teasing, more demands and captivity of your attention. Is mass media a collective hallucination imposed on us, intended to control our behavior, and keep us stupid and then militantly enforced by people who work in advertising and finance, and the government, who mandate allegiance to the supreme American God….CONSUMPTION?