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Haute (LJ Idol, Week 11)



Quit acting like you are better than other people,” the middle-aged bartender pronounced. “Don’t act so haute-taute.”

The bartender was an overweight, pock-faced guy who took an immediate disliking to her. It was 1979, the days before microbrews. She was sitting in a bar in Macomb, Illinois, drinking Coors. That is how she spent a good part of those college years. This first attempt at going to college was a social experiment. Don’t act so haute-taute. What the heck does that mean?

Glancing down, she noticed that she raised her pinky while lifting her beer to her lips. Conditioning. Damn conditioning. She was taught to raise her pinky when she sipped her drink. That’s how proper girls behaved. This properness of character didn’t come naturally to her. She was sent to charm school at the age of ten. Her mother said she needed to smooth out some of her edges or she would never get a man. She did not know that charm was a requirement for good living, but there she was smoothing out her edges and walking the runway with books balanced on her head. Charm school was the beginning of trading herself in for someone else’s version of what was acceptable.

“Do you think I’m haute-taute because I raise my pinky when I drink my beer?” she inquired. He grumbled something under his breath as he walked to the other end of the bar. She had been coming here for months with her roommates. It was a good place to have a few drinks before going to listen to the music at the other bars in town.

You pretend to be something you’re not,” he protested.

“Me? No, I don’t! What you see is what you get.”

“That’s the lie you have to quit telling yourself.” There was an air of finality in his voice. “Now, get going.”

It was close to 10 p.m. on a Thursday night. The bar was getting crowded. He had pushed her buttons straight into reactivity. She never minded that the bartender did not like her. Either like me for who I am or don’t like me at all, she often said. She emptied the contents of the pitcher into her glass and walked over to sit with her friends.
 
“How do I look in this outfit?” Susan, the most beautiful of the group was inquiring. “It is pledge week. I want to look my best.” Oh, god. Pledge week. She had no intention of joining a sorority. She just smiled and joined the others in complimenting Susan. “You look beautiful, as always.” Yes, Susan was beautiful. She was also a prude. The bartender wasn’t calling Susan “haute-taute.”

Frustrated, she looked around the bar. There were two guys sitting at the table next to her talking about some class they were taking. She smiled at them and they smiled back. That conversation certainly seemed more interesting than the one at her table. She pushed her chair back, considering whether or not to join them. She got out of her chair, but walked right on by. There was an empty stool at the bar calling her name.

“Why don’t you go join your friends?” the bartender sneered.

“I get more honesty from you.” She told him the she couldn’t relate to the conversation that her friends were having. “Do we ever get away from the conditioning of our past?”

“It isn’t just the past that conditions us,” he replies pointing at the Ford Mustang commercial on the television. “But you get a choice in what to believe. For instance, Susan believes in her beauty. It is her truth.”

He smiled smugly as he poured her a shot of tequila. “You’ve forgotten your truth,” he said. “You gave it away long ago.”

“I’ve just wanted to make others happy.”

She licked the salt off the back of her hand, squeezed the lime into her mouth and took the shot of tequila.

He smirked. “You didn’t raise your pinky.”

“Oh, if it were only that simple,” she remarked. “If finding truth were about when to raise your pinky and when not to raise your pinky.”

Maybe it is,” he said. “Maybe it is.

************


(This is my entry for LJ Idol , Season 7, Week 11. If you liked it, please let me know by commenting. Voting for LJ Idol begins on Saturday at 4:00 pm EST and runs through Tuesday. VOTE HERE. Thank you for your support.)

Comments

( 42 comments — Leave a comment )
xp00tx
Jan. 28th, 2011 11:58 pm (UTC)
Like it :)


And I was never taught to raise my pinky, but for some odd, crazy reason, I ALWAYS do it. It's a constant joke with my friends/fam.
isis_lives
Jan. 29th, 2011 01:59 am (UTC)
Thank you. I still raise my pinky. Conditioning can be hard to lose.

You must have been royalty in a past life. ;)
bodhifox
Jan. 29th, 2011 01:13 am (UTC)
As expansion progressed, distribution crossed the Mississippi River in 1981.

http://www.alabev.com/coorstry.htm

Unpossible in 1979.
isis_lives
Jan. 29th, 2011 02:03 am (UTC)
Ha! Nope, not "unpossible." My college was near the Mississippi, right across the border from Iowa. Getting Coors into the bars was a big deal and had all this mystery in the college town I was in, but everyone drank Coors. It was a big deal. The drinking age was 19 for beer and wine when I was 19, then changed to 21 when I was 21. So, the years between are still a bit foggy. So long ago. ;)

This piece is part fiction. I knew the bartender. He did call me hauty-tauty. I did drink Coors...and tequila when it was offered...but it is still mostly fiction.
roina_arwen
Jan. 31st, 2011 04:56 am (UTC)
See, I've heard "hoity toity" but never "haute taute".
isis_lives
Jan. 31st, 2011 05:53 am (UTC)
Yes, I know. (Read responses below if interested.) love your icon!
roina_arwen
Jan. 31st, 2011 06:24 am (UTC)
Ah, gotcha (read the responses).

As far as the icon, it always seems the most appropriate one as it sort of coordinates with yours! I call her "Bathing Beauty".
comedychick
Jan. 29th, 2011 09:06 am (UTC)
Even without any training, sometimes I've wondered why I've been inclined to raise my pinky in some instances.
isis_lives
Jan. 29th, 2011 03:46 pm (UTC)
Pinky wavers unite! Nah, seriously, it was a joke if a charm school at a department store. My two older sisters escaped going. My mother seriously thought it would help. Help exactly what? I'm not so certain.
tacitanomaly
Jan. 29th, 2011 05:29 pm (UTC)
ahhhh.. this is wonderful.. and I too was thrust into a department store charm school... it was awful....I think my mom was scared of me staying a strange geeky tomboy type forever.... but crap... yes I still at times raise my pinky....
basric
Jan. 29th, 2011 10:12 am (UTC)
I enjoyed reading this very much.
ecosopher
Jan. 29th, 2011 11:48 am (UTC)
I think I only ever raise my pinky when I'm drinking from a proper tea cup!

I particularly liked the ending. Well written.
isis_lives
Jan. 29th, 2011 04:26 pm (UTC)
I guess I have everyone thinking about their pinkies! LOL! Teacups are the perfect place to raise a pinky. Hard to fit it in that little handle.

Thanks for readin. For me, it is a story about not fitting in....and thereafter we take to try. ;)
tacitanomaly
Jan. 29th, 2011 05:48 pm (UTC)
ahhh that bit of biting honesty from a stranger that sinks in and churns questions of who we really are.... I loved this... it can be so hard to find our way and find who we really are deep down inside (when we put away all those things that have been trained into us to direct us on our parents, teachers, friends paths)as someone who has always felt comfortable with people but somehow always on the fringes I can soooo relate.....
isis_lives
Jan. 30th, 2011 06:36 am (UTC)
Strangers reach out all the time. We just have to notice! Y'know, the teacher appears when the student is ready? My thoughts are a slight variation on that. ;)

You were that stranger once...at a very pivotal time. Grateful....
java_fiend
Jan. 29th, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
It is definitely true that it's not just our past that conditions us. It's so much more than that. And it can be so hard to break free from those things.

Wonderfully written... very, very enjoyable. :-)
isis_lives
Jan. 30th, 2011 06:27 am (UTC)
Yes, it is a long and winding road. ;)

Thanks for reading!
myrna_bird
Jan. 30th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
This is like seeing another side of you. Hurray for writing this take.
Great job!

I was never sure how to spell it but it sounded like "hoity-toity" when we were kids. It was term for the snobby kids that thought they were better than the rest of us.
isis_lives
Jan. 30th, 2011 06:15 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading and your kindnesses. How do you ever get through every entry? Amazing.

See my response to the spelling below.
myrna_bird
Jan. 31st, 2011 12:10 am (UTC)
Thanks for that extra explanation on the spelling.

It is getting harder than ever now with SCI in the mix. I am still trying to read and comment on all entries before I vote. I read as they are posted pretty much and keep track of the ones I want to vote for when the poll comes up. I prefer to not read any others until I have posted my own but sometimes that's impossible.
It is a balancing act because I actually do have a real life, too.
donnickcottage
Jan. 30th, 2011 05:28 am (UTC)
I like it. Nice scene. I do have 1 issue though. Do you mean hoity toity? I've never seen it (or something approaching it) spelled that way, nor has google lol. But my not knowing the phrase doesn't mean anything:)
isis_lives
Jan. 30th, 2011 06:10 am (UTC)
The etymology of the word hoity is connected to the French word haute. I can almost explain my spelling choice there, but hoity toity does not come from "haute toit" (which more or less refers to pretentious high life on roof tops looking down on others). The only connection to haute taut is Scottish. There, somewhere, I found it to mean the same as hoity toity but I can't find it right now. So, yes, I stretched it. Phew. Writing fiction is harder than writing non fiction, isn't it?
myrna_bird
Jan. 30th, 2011 08:47 pm (UTC)
I am just going with the prompts. Sometimes I HAVE to make it up!
dreamchaser
Jan. 30th, 2011 08:11 pm (UTC)
I don't think I have ever raised my pinky when drinking!

It is interesting what lengths we go to in order to be someone else's version of "acceptable".
isis_lives
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:20 pm (UTC)
That's exactly what I was writing about. Thanks for "getting it."
beautyofgrey
Jan. 31st, 2011 12:51 am (UTC)
I really enjoy this one, it's a nice change in style for you, too. :)
isis_lives
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It isn't my favorite, but it certainly has been instructive to finding my voice.
xo_kizzy_xo
Jan. 31st, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not a pinky raiser, but I did withstand a whole department store charm school regimen, complete with a fashion show at the very end. We learned how to care for our white gloves, among other things!

I really like this. It's a whole other side of you which I think is worth exploring :)
isis_lives
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:25 pm (UTC)
You and I must have attended the same place. How old were you at the time?
momebie
Feb. 1st, 2011 03:03 am (UTC)
I really like the snippet you have here. And yeah, bartenders tend to shoot from the hip, even when they miss. I like that about them. Tattoo artists as well.
isis_lives
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
I tend to like people to shoot from the hip. Gives me permission to do the same. Thanks for reading.
locknkey
Feb. 1st, 2011 06:32 am (UTC)
This made me smile - both characters/people shine. :)
isis_lives
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:36 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I've been struggling the last couple of weeks. But I am still having fun.
locknkey
Feb. 1st, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC)
The competition is fierce - this may be my last week, but it's been a positive experience. :)
lawchicky
Feb. 1st, 2011 06:12 pm (UTC)
Loved this! I've been known to raise my pinky on occasion.
isis_lives
Feb. 1st, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you. Glad you liked it. It's a rough week die a lot of writers!
imafarmgirl
Feb. 1st, 2011 08:53 pm (UTC)
I liked this. It seemed different than your norm but was good.
isis_lives
Feb. 1st, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, I learned something this week, tho. I've got to meditate longer on what I'm going to write about. Thanks for reading.
tijuanagringo
Feb. 1st, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
raised her pinky while lifting her beer heehehehehehehehe good one
isis_lives
Feb. 2nd, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
Thanks. ;)
joeymichaels
Feb. 1st, 2011 11:24 pm (UTC)
I've tried to involve my pinky in my drinking just to see what its like, but, man, I'm just not coordinated enough. I'll never be able to have tea with the Queen.
isis_lives
Feb. 2nd, 2011 12:56 am (UTC)
Still waiting for the Queen's invitation. Even with a raised pinky, someone must've told her I dribble.
( 42 comments — Leave a comment )

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