The Kitchen Manifesto from the Not-So-Desperate Housewife
Housewives between the ages of 21 and 65 are on the top of marketers’ lists of people they would like to sell to. The fact that we outnumber men in our attractiveness to people who want contact with us makes us extremely powerful people, but possibly, very vulnerable. Because there are so many of us and because our strengths lie within or through our networking skills, our trends and choices can become all-out, fully-fledged civil movements. With more power and as leaders of our friends, families and community groups, we must work harder to learn what our parents didn’t know how to teach us. We must be more discerning in our situations and people we entrust our livelihoods with. In an ever increasingly hypocritically, politically correct world, that’s no easy chore.
There are circumstances that we will all experience at one point or another that we would rather avoid at all possible cost. We literally think we will die or would rather die than go through such things. We will beg. We will plead. We will futilely fight that burning swell in the back of our throats believing that if we don’t swallow, just maybe our tears won’t fall and the pain won’t come. From experience, I believe that these circumstances, mostly being the horrible ones, will propel you forward in your understanding of the true world around you. If you make it through them, that is. I see a lot of young people who have suffered emotionally some, sure, but have not really experienced that particular type of suffering caused only by adult-made decisions; where the stakes are much higher and where sometimes more than just hearts get broken. Right now, you’re thinking that’s a good thing, right? I would have to disagree. Times may get too tough for us too quickly if we’re not carefully prepared.
With soldiers being just one exception, the average American woman my age (22-35) is thinking two things about what she wants in life. Where will I meet the man of my dreams and/or how can I make sure I never ever have to depend on a man. The average man my age is probably thinking…something… hopefully. It is the very first time in our lives when we are truly out on our own. There are no parents within miles and no spouses yet to check things with. Young men and women of today have a plethora of roads to choose from. Together they are intelligent and becoming more successful, more sensitive and compassionate to the environment and animals. Our technology allows us to really strive for goals our parents never thought possible. It allows us to depend on amazing machines, and I mean really depend on them, to do things we could never do by ourselves and reach for goals we now know are possible right this very moment not to mention the far future. The sights we are now set on in terms of what we can do as human beings seem to be limitless. That’s definitely an improvement over thinking innovation would have boundaries, but something is missing. I believe we are “losing ourselves” too often in a pointless effort to be everything we think we need to be in order to feel wanted.
I’m not at all saying that modern technology is responsible for this, but I think it is undeniable that it parallels a shift in our cultural morality. We cannot ignore that the environment we are in affects us. What I’m trying to say is that I think a side effect of modernization may be us moving away from trust and faith in the uncomfortable unknown. Communications technology in particular, serves as a type of enabler to a shift in how we relate to each other and more importantly, we may be looking at an increase in the dependence on hurriedly manufactured information. That information comes from the media, television, movies, reality television, blogs, books, reality television. Did I already say that?
As a housewife at home during the day I see more things on television that are more shameful to watch than porn. All I see is more and more people that are dead set on being in control of what they want to get in this life. These people will never manage a McDonalds yet alone know what the duce is going on. If we followed their example, which luckily the majority of Americans are smart enough to laugh at and not do; we’d all be dead from a severe case of syphilis within a year. However, what most of us end up doing as every day individuals is certainly not enough planning. What about a plan to keep our integrity as a family and a country intact? Some really good people plan to just live and breathe every day. Work alone sometimes makes doing anything else an exhausting thought. After a while, they get so tired they plan to have no plan. Not much faith, no old fashioned rules, nothing but progressive thinking welcome. This is where I differ from the typical.
I have to explain my roots, don’t I? You need to know what makes my kind of patriotism uniquely suited for healing the cuts and blows our young adult-like country has taken in the past decade. Most of what is wrong with the state of our union today, what is wrong with America, my love, has everything to do with the state and environment we are in. Of course! This is why everyone’s idea of patriotism is different; because where the vine of patriotism is rooted, so comes the flavor of the wine. My wine is mildly dry, buttery, bursting with little fruity essences of peach and of vanilla. I am a housewife. I’m a not-so desperate housewife to be exact.
My experience has led me to be alone in many ways. Don’t be sad, I’m just getting to the good part. My self- imposed exile has given me a wonderful perspective that if you should so happen to understand, you would genuinely benefit from it. Also, I would appreciate it if you would pass on the message to your friends, because if you haven’t noticed, our America is changing for the worse. You can be in denial right now, I’ll talk about that later, but I think I speak for all self-appointed housewife representatives of our American family and I would like to propose an intervention. Although, I’m not even sure America would benefit from a 12-step program because pardon my French, she is really fucked up. I love you America, but you are really messed up. You need help.
It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that my ever renewing faith in the principles I have and the perspective I view the world from has everything to do with where I come from AND where I want to go. I was born not but a stone’s throw away from the San Jacinto battlefield actually, in Houston, Texas, on the 142nd anniversary of the day Texas won its independence from Mexico.
I moved to Austin, Texas when I began attending school at the University of Texas. Boy did that suck. Anyway. While contemplating a plan to get to the top of the clock tower with as many machine guns as I could carry, a very sweet and handsome man came along with a better idea. He married me; subsequently, confiscating all arms as a condition of our marriage. Fair enough. I was happy.
And you know what else? America was happy. America was so freaking happy. It was disgusting. Clinton was getting creative with cigars and we were all getting creative with money. America was riding a financial tidal wave and we weren’t planning on going broke…like ever. That sounds kind of funny in retrospect but believe me, I was on that wave and I’d never have thought we’d lose as much as we did after our country was attacked on 9-11. Before those towers fell we thought we were invincible. And why not? For example, this was Austin, Texas. Just one look around you and you wonder, this is Texas? Why is every third house a mansion? Why is every other car a BMW? Where are all these filthy rich people? All I see is a bunch of normal people. Wal-Mart people. When you realize the Wal-Mart people are the disgustingly rich mansion dwellers and there’s a transvestite hobo running for mayor, finally it all becomes clear. You’ve got to move here because at that point you know, anything is possible. As Red McCombs recently said to skeptics about the new Formula One track being built here, “Austin. It’s a place with a people.”
Exile may be a little bit of an exaggeration as I am not a recluse by any means. There aren’t many places around here that I don’t know at least one person by name. I can be an extrovert if I want to be, but the everyday me is pretty happy being alone. My favorite occupation is to sit back and observe.
At twenty-one I was a multi-millionaire, living in a mansion, driving expensive sports cars, eating at places like Jeffery’s, drinking rare wines, and above all, attending the college of my choice. That’s right. I was determined to get my college education no matter how much money I fell into. Another thing that was very important to me was my spirituality. Sounds pretty typical of a young woman searching to find her true self, I know, but there were medical problems that left me so scarred and scared that I would run out of time, I began paying much closer attention. Those two very important aspects of precious time and spirituality tied together were what I absolutely knew I wanted to understand more about in my life and like a map it led me. Knowing what I wanted and knowing that those goals were good and noble set me at what I thought in my heart was the right pace for the rest of my race. It didn’t matter to me in the least what everyone else was doing.
Of course I didn’t know that at the time. After a while of being happily married, I began to worry I wasn’t focused on what my other friends were focused on. Other than studying, we had no common goals in life. How weird am I not actively working on “finding myself”, I thought. Suddenly I felt I was taking myself too seriously. Life wasn’t about planning for a future you could never in a million years predict. Life was about living in the moment and figuring out who you were. Woh, there. I mean, I know knowing who you are is important and all, but did I really have to define who I was based on the spittle of experience I had had with life? How much of “me” could I really count on to be “me” and did I really want those parts about “me” to be permanent? I knew I didn’t want my bra size set in stone. That was for damn sure. Maybe I needed to get a whole bunch of tattoos to help me define me, permanently; just so I could stop changing my mind about it all the time. Floundering is for pussies!
I knew I wasn’t the money. I’ve never been money. I was too young and innocent (looking) to pass myself off as being a rich power bitch. At first I was disappointed about that. I can’t tell you how many times people came to my door to sell me something and asked if my mommy and daddy were home. I quickly realized prestige was totally overrated and was never going to be something that I, a fan of iron on t-shirts, pop-tarts and bean dip, ever displayed. In fact, now that I think about it I don’t think I buy anything that doesn’t have a little bit of a trashy flare. Note to self: don’t deny your inner W.T. Anyway, when I gave up trying to impress anyone and everyone, I found myself enjoying the money so much more. We gave out loans to people we didn’t even know. Worse, we lent money to people we did know. Mostly though, we kept to ourselves.
Honestly, we simply had so much fun together that other people just seemed to slow us down. They didn’t have our sense of timely planning or our paranoia about parking next to cars with lots of door dings. Our idea of partying was ordering an exorbitantly expensive dinner with two bottles of wine, going home and passing out on the Temper Pedic. We absolutely, whole-heartedly embraced the Austin cultural rule that you can wear a pair of blue jeans in any three-star restaurant as long as you and/or your woman is looking good and you can pay the check. We were not flashy about our money, well other than having the mansion and the sports cars, and the blah, blah, blah. However, we were most certainly naïve; although sadly not as naïve as some would soon prove to be.
We lived quite boringly in an exclusive gated community in the hills of west Austin. We called it the add-a-zero neighborhood because whatever the cost in the rest of the world, if you lived in this neighborhood it’d cost you ten times that. Say you call the guy who cuts lawns for $25. For a lawn in our neighborhood, suddenly the cost is $250. It was like that for everything. Contracting, plumbing, food, utilities, pet care, you name it. Not that you could find a contractor worth a damn in the Austin area towards the end of the 1990’s through the beginning of the new millennium, but if you did, you could expect to pay a lot.
All of the contractors and workers within a hundred mile radius of Austin were busy building huge mansions for people who had more money than they knew what to do with. I remember at one point, my neighbors were only renting the mansion next door whilst they were in the process of building their new more ginormous mansion. A year and a half into the build they began to have problems with their high-falutin’ builder. You’d think once you hit the three million mark, your builder would be kissing the ground you walked on, but not this guy. This builder had rapidly made a name for himself in the housing boom here, yet he will remain nameless in this piece, or maybe called butthead because of his selfish abhorrent behavior. With all of his success he began slacking and putting off deadlines. Why? Because he could, that’s why. Mr. “B” didn’t even bother to finish Sandra Bullock’s house and come her Christmas party that year, nothing worked. Not even the plumbing. Imagine poor Sandra standing there in her couture dress, holding a monkey wrench and trying to point out where her guests might be able to drop their fruitcake.
Lawsuits ensued, business was booming and of course people like us were constantly being taken for a ride, but that was okay, because like I said, we were all very happy at the time. I know I should have seen all of it as temporary as inevitably all things are, but I didn’t. Some part of me did know, but I denied that. I know I did because I remember distinctly my father’s warning. He was visiting me for the first time and quietly taking it all in. He gazed through the ceiling to floor bay windows overlooking the pristine hill country and country club greens where I had just pointed out where the newlyweds Brad and Jennifer Pitt had plans to build. “You’re not as rich as you think you are,” he said with a weird grin. I thought, that was kind of out of place. I didn’t recall ever telling him how much money I thought we had. Then it occurred to me. That was the point. I should always count on not being rich, more than counting on being rich. Now, I know he was worried and he had every right to be. We were kind of idiots.
My first lesson in the dangers of what could be lying and awaiting me and other naïve, vulnerable socialites came around Thanksgiving of 2001. Not in some dark alley on 6th Street or in some of the karaoke bars around town, but real dangers that can be hidden in some of the social relationships/situations we choose to put ourselves in.
My neighbor two doors down was the only other person under forty in our neighborhood. He was young and awkward, single, a nerd, so of course we identified with him right away. It was nice having him around kind of as a validation to the rest of the neighbors that we weren’t total freaks of nature being there. 29-year-old Daniel Vergil (name has been changed) made his fortune selling his genius to Cisco so you can guess about how totally cool this guy was. Danny was no stud and sadly, this really bothered him. He did not want to be a nerd. Soon my husband and I started noticing loads of cars and trucks continuously parked at his house. At first we thought he must be on a car buying binge, until we realized the cars weren’t for him. Danny had a whole new set of young friends; very young friends. In the beginning we had seen several teen girls and boys frequenting his home and thought he was just having family over, or maybe they were kids from a previous marriage or something. He was too young for having teens but certainly too old to be having this sort of fun with this young of “friends.” Parties were happening all night and nearly every night at his house whether he was home or not. I remember being pissed that there were always so many damn cars parked on the street until one day I got a good look at what was really going on. My mood quickly changed to concern when I learned the teen-age girls he was hanging out with were exchanging social advice (and God knows what else) for shopping money. I didn’t know if he was sleeping with them and oddly that is not from where the majority of worry came. He would give them money for shopping and they would in turn dress him, hang out with him and tell him what he should and shouldn’t do socially. They made him feel like he was a star and soon that was all that mattered.
The day before Thanksgiving my husband and I left for the crap hole that is Houston and my immediate neighbors to the left and right left for their holiday vacations as well. Thanksgiving Day I get a frantic phone call from one of my neighbors checking to see if my husband was still alive. No one knew who exactly, because they wouldn’t release any names, but a young millionaire had been murdered in our tiny neighborhood the night before. When we all established it was not my husband, we knew it must have been Danny.
We arrived home to find Danny’s house surrounded by police and caution tape. It was surreal. There was only about forty five residents living on that hill at the time and now one of us was just violently taken. That sort of thing could not have just happened. Who on earth would want to kill or have even ever found it necessary to kill a person like Danny.
It was an even bigger shock when we found out that it was bound to have happened to him because of the simplest choices he been making… poorly. He made them poorly because he was rebelling against himself in a way. He consciously made poor decisions because someone or something told him that his old protective nerdy ways were not socially acceptable. He made bad choices to prove to himself that he could be just as bad as everyone else not realizing he didn’t really want to be as bad as everyone else. He gave reckless abandon to what he considered true. He no longer respected the security risks of having friends who were not true friends. The more friends he had, regardless of their sincerity, the more he felt like the success he pictured in his head.
We found out later from police that there was no forced entry, that he had known his attackers and that he had been tortured to death with a Taser. Apparently he had met his killers at a bar and had somehow given them the idea that he was a computer genius who had tons of money. Big surprise, there. According to acquaintances, Danny had invited them over to his house to hang out before. The next time they came over they thought it’d be more fun to torture him for passwords to his company issued computer. They were unsuccessful and killed him. Later, unable to retrieve anything of worth on Danny’s computer, the killers tried to get a friend to erase the memory so that they could sell it. When the friend recognized Danny’s name on the computer and also realized the Taser that they had borrowed from him now had blood on it, he became suspicious and called the police. Good call.
About a week after the murder I was leaving the neighborhood and a city maintenance truck was trying to gain entry. I rolled down my window and asked who he was looking for. Until the murder, I would have just beeped him in. He said, “Uh, Vergil, Danny? I found some of his stuff. A jacket, some gloves and a computer case, does he live here?”
The damn idiots had simply chucked the evidence into a ditch and believed they would never be caught. They murdered a human being and honestly thought no one would care. He was just another sucker who would do anything to be accepted and they knew it the moment they laid eyes on him.
That could have been me or my husband. Maybe you think this doesn’t apply to you because you are not a millionaire nerd, but it does and I aim to show you how. You also may be wondering why I told you I was a millionaire if I’m saying that’s not such a good idea to do. First of all, I’m not anymore, so don’t bother coming to torture me for passwords. Secondly, I want to show you that I’ve been in both worlds and it does not matter if you are rich or poor in this case. We are all vulnerable to what is already on its way to get us.