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Mitt Romney, the presumptive gopnom, said the other day that he considers himself a regular middle-class guy.
That was pretty discouraging to those of us whose highest lifelong aspiration has been to move up classwise from lower to middle. To finally get us, if not a whole piece of the pie, a crumb or two from the crust of it.
Discouraging because the middle-class Mr. Romney has around $200 million in the bank. That's his personal fortune, his own walking-around money, and doesn't include PAC money, or running-for-office money cadged from donors.
Discouraging to us proles because we know if middle-classdom has really reached the $200 million plateau, we don't have a prayer in hell of ever getting there. Even if you needed only $100 million to qualify for entree, we'd still be screwed. No matter how many lottery tickets we buy, no matter how many golden geese we chase after.
I figure it would take me at least 40 car wrecks with catastrophic personal injuries in every one of them, and a personal-injury lawyer working on the cheap, if not pro bono, and 40 juries of the O.J. or Casey Anthony caliber, to get my foot in the Mitt Romney version of the middle-class door. I'm just not sure I could survive that many car wrecks. Certainly not with my good looks and all my appendages intact.
I can't think of many ways other than serial litigiousness up out of the low-class peckerwoodery that's always been my milieu. I'm past the point of hankering for athletic stardom, I wouldn't think twice about running for president, and I wouldn't consider making and peddling meth, not only because it would be illegal and immoral to do so, but because I've seen what it's done to Walter White on "Breaking Bad."
You can marry your way out. Luck your way out, if you have the moxie and a concept that most scorn and nobody else covets, like discount merchandising, chicken nuggeteering, or selling everybody in the Arklatex a gaslight.
Or scam your way out, say, for example, by having a crony who'll sell you all the natural gas in a vast multi-state basin and then very quickly, by pre-arrangement, buy it back from you, with rate-payer money, for many times the price you paid for it.
But don't think working hard and keeping your hooter to the stone will get you out. Remember what Tennessee Ernie Ford said loading 16 tons of No. 9 coal would get you. Not even a baby step closer to middle classdom.
Pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps makes a nice-sounding cliche until you realize that it's an anatomical impossibility. More of the low class kidding itself. A sad thing, putting on the dog when it doesn't even impress the dog.
It's almost like a case of you can't get there from here, and it's pretty galling to have a 200-meg weasel who got there the easy way out striking what used to be called the Mucker Pose.
The Mucker Pose was a way for upper-class twits to run in a bunch, doing malicious mischief and pretending to be street toughs, like Richard Pryor doing his "We bad" bit. Nero did some of this too, the little bastard.
The middle-class I burned with envy to crash had none of that muckery, and if you needed $200 million to get in, you could get it in Monopoly money, from rent on your Ventnor houses and Pennsylvania hotels.
Here are some of the benefits and emoluments that I imagined the middle-class Welcome Wagon might bestow on me: I could get a banana split any time I wanted one. I could get me a motorcycle without having to sell 15,000 cans of Cloverine Salve. I could hire me a batman if I wanted to, whatever a batman was, even if the only applicant for the job was my cousin Gopher.
I could go into a department store and buy some cool clothes that weren't hand-me-downs, and a terry-cloth bathrobe, and have the clerk greet me by name, hover helpfully, and tell me to hurry back instead of running me out with the other riffraff, and threatening to call the law on me for loitering if they caught me in there again.
I'd have a car, on the status upside of a Buick, instead of Pap's old rattletrap pickup that either overheated or had a blowout every time you got it out of town, and that it was just plain impossible to imagine a girl agreeing to make out in.
Those on the outside of middle class looking in could make an occasional incursion into the middle class, and that was tolerated if you got in and out quick and didn't hassle any gentry. For instance, you might go in to retrieve a nice pair of boots that the hit-and-run victim wearing them would no longer have any use for anyway.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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