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Monday, October 4, 2010

The velvet rope

There was a reference in this morning's NY Times TV listings to some fashionable fellow who had never seen a velvet rope he hadn't been able to negotiate. It reminded me of an experience I had around twenty-five years ago with such a barrier.

A new nightclub had opened up in lower Tribeca, within walking distance of where I worked. It had just opened up and therefore attracted the kind of crowd which always wanted to try the latest, hottest thing. A friend ( and I happened to be in the vicinity and, curious about the club, got in line outside the little barrier they had erected (it may have been a velvet rope, I can't remember exactly).

We were never picked to go in. Others were whisked by; we were studiously ignored. Many of those let in were actually good-looking women, who of course always get through in such situations. But various men, most dressed in hipper clothes than the business suits my friend and I wore, were also whisked by.

Eventually my friend gave voice to the thought that had been lurking in back of my mind but which I hadn't wanted to acknowledge yet: "They're not going to give us a second look."

It was pure humiliation.

There are five stages you go through when this happens to you -- not entirely unlike Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's widely-cited five stages of grief.

The first is frustration. ("C'mon, I'm getting impatient just standing here.")

The second is disbelief. ("He must not have noticed me.")

Next is anger. ("Who does he think he is?")

Next is outrage combined with compensatory conceit. ("I'm smarter, richer, a better athlete than that loser. How dare he judge me!")

The fifth, and final step, is justification. ("Oh well, I'm leading a pretty good life and that lowlife is never going to be anything but a doorman.")

The problem is, the doorman has the last laugh, because your private thoughts regarding him remain private -- unless you're truly compulsive.

Of course, the best therapy is, as always, a really lousy memory.

The life I've lived, and the memory I'm cursed with, I could write an entire book on rejection. Maybe I should. It would probably sell.

Then again, it would probably just be rejected by the publishers like every other book I've written in the last ten years.


Anonymous said...

The velvet rope symbolizes a lot of what I hate about New York--the false exclusivity, that the city is just high school with money and, on average, a much worse class of narcissists.

John Craig said...

Anonymous --
Amen, amen, and amen.