Wednesday, 11 June 1997
A man in his mid-twenties concludes after nearly a year in a foreign country that his identity is a product of suburban middle-class culture. He has been well aware of his feelings regarding this particular socio-economic reality, but now he recognises it as the demon that is barking the loudest behind him, that growls the fiercest at him in the darkest hours of the night.
The middle-class suburbia where his roots lie is, however, not the one you see on TV or in the movies. His parents were often broke, and his family experienced long periods of turbulence. To tell the truth, for years they were just middle-class on the surface. Had you scratched a little at them with a fingernail, you’d have exposed them for what they really were: “poor whites” who for the previous ten or fifteen years had not possessed the right car, never had enough money or, for that matter, any decent kind of job, not to mention the fact that they regularly got the chills at the mere thought of the bailiff with his jelled bouffant and his white Toyota who could pound on their front door at any moment to claim everything they owned.
His parents nevertheless always endeavoured to be accepted in the middle-class. Why? “It’s about the type of people we are.”
Despite the fact that his family never really belonged in the suburbs, the protagonist still struggles with what he regards as his middle-class heritage – the culture, physical appearance, and ideas of what an adult should do with his life.
The fact of the matter is, and this should surprise no one, this particular character despises suburban middle-class culture! The things they value … the pettiness … the fear and anxiety about what it would do to your status if something should go wrong. It’s one step away from the grave! The petite bourgeoisie? That’s exactly what it is! The class of pettiness!
The question is, how does the main character of this story go about processing his uncompromising contempt for what he regards as the source of his identity?