Snobby, Sort Of

I think I’m a bit of a snob. How do you define snobbery, anyway? To be a snob, do you have to have certain standards below which you will not go? Or is it that you believe that your standards are the only standards, and that they confer some sort of superiority on you? Or is that just prejudice? Some folks are talking about this right now on MATH+1 and I’m finding the responses pretty interesting, and of course I love it when the forum essentially writes my entry for me. It’s good because I have a sense that there’s some sort of something to write about, but I’m having a hard time getting at it.

I was thinking about this the other day when I was at PCC getting some stuff for a little dinner Carl and I threw together on Sunday when it was still so hot. It got up to ninety on Saturday, and it was pretty miserable, I have to say. This has happened to me every year I’ve lived in Seattle…which, in July, will be four, thanks for asking…I complain for nine months about how cold I am, and how I will never, never adjust to living in the Northwest, and how I am bred to live in hot climates, much like a wild orchid or some sort of sub-tropical monkey. Then there will be four days in August that are easily in the mid-eighties that throw me into a tailspin. This is because there is no air conditioning in my house, or indeed, in most houses in Seattle. This is because I live on the second floor of my house and because, my physicist boyfriend tells me, heat rises. This is because I am not a hardy tropical hybrid, as previously thought. The real secret of people who live in hot climates is that they never go outside. They sprint from air conditioned house to air conditioned car to air conditioned work and then to air conditioned gym, where they pay to get all sweaty. So, no, I’m not equipped for life in a hot place, but instead for life in a carefully temperature controlled greenhouse. Ugh. I went to Target at nine thirty on Saturday night, looking for a fan, and the dude I talked to there full on laughed and said, “Uh, we sold out hours ago.”

Anyway! PCC! Shopping! When I moved to Seattle I was introduced to the natural foods store. We didn’t have too many of those in Miami when I lived there, and the closest I got I Claremont was Trader Joe’s, to which I am still loyal in my own way. Carl, on the other hand, grew up eating from the co-op, and so when I first was here and spending a lot of time with his parents I started going there a lot. I thought it was endearing in a granola sort of way. “Health food” has apparently changed a lot since the seventies, when my mom owned a health food store and had to make her own granola because you couldn’t buy it in the regular stores. Now it’s all about the organic soda and the organic frozen meals and the soy sausages and all that. I love all that. That’s not the issue, I don’t think…because no one cares if I want to spend more of my own money on organic mac and cheese, right? The issue is…it’s just that every time I go to Safeway for non-organic yogurt, which I totally love, or to pick up a prescription, or to try to find a fan at ten on a Saturday night, I find myself sort of boggled by all the bright colors of all the food on the shelves. It doesn’t look like food to me anymore, and then when I think that, I feel sort of snobby, like I think I’m too good to shop there at Safeway. Like, “Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t eat just any cheddar, I can only eat imported Neal’s Yard.” This sort of attitude sucks, I think…but the truth remains that I really like Neal’s Yard (as well as a whole host of other imported cheeses, but that’s a whole other entry), and the truth also remains that I’m now the type of person who Shops At The Natural Food Store. Maybe this is a demographics issue, instead of a snobbery issue? Because I tell you, the marketing folks at PCC and Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods have me in their crosshairs. It’s me they’re selling to: slightly over-educated, reads the labels (um, okay, some of the time), wants to feel morally superior in buying organic and ‘environmentally friendly,’’ likes the free samples of the thick-cut jalapeno chips. They make it very easy for me in these stores…easy to be snob, I guess. Sigh. Anyway. For the record, I don’t really think I’m too good to shop at Safeway, but I prefer to shop at PCC. When I write it all out, though, I feel elitist, and then by association, guilty. That’s it! That’s my whole issue! For the entire entry! Poor me! Waaaaaaaaah!

And I have no idea whether this has anything to do with this rather stream-of-consciousness entry, but please witness the following conversation:

Chiara: [apropos of a previous discussion] So is Patri just really smart, then?

Carl: Yeah.

Chiara: It’s weird…one of the things about being friends with all these Mudders is that I don’t really know them academically. I think it’s because everyone assumed that if I was smart, I’d be going to Mudd, and therefore it’s never been an issue. I’m just off the radar because I don’t do science.

Carl: Well, now, I don’t know. You work in research, right? You…you do do science. You should give yourself more credit, because what you do is science.

Chiara: Oh, honey! Me? I do science? Oh, thank heaven! I thought no one would ever say that to me in my life! I’m so excited! Thank you, thank you! Science, oh science!

Carl: Okay, I deserve that.

Chiara: This is the best gift you’ve ever given me!

Carl: [sigh]

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