Monday, July 31, 2006

The Times' are a changin'

It’s Sunday, and I have some time on my hands, as I’m not working and packing is pretty much done. So, knowing that TV sucks on Sunday and being on this new kick to embrace the intellectualism that I’ve been hiding for the last three years, I picked up the NY Times on my way back from brunch at Silver Spur on Houston St. By the way, Waffles with ice cream and strawberries, so fucking good!

Now, I could sound all intellectual and write about how I bought the NY Times because I love the week in review section that is a hit list of the news that you shouldn’t have missed. Or I could write about the Book Review, how the Times and its writers really have a pulse on today’s great literature. But, come on. You’ve probably been reading for sometime and realize that I am way too preoccupied with my own life than to give a shit what is happening outside of my apartment. And anyway, my summer reading list is long enough and, I think a lot of their book reviews are pompous and try too hard to sound intelligent instead of just telling you whether a book is a worth while read. I also think I hold that opinion of the Book Review because the last time I read it was in ninth grade, preparing for the Verbal Section of the SATs. I only managed to get a 610. But I also drew penises all over the test booklet and (not so) politely asked them to “suck it”. Thank you ADD and to my mother who smoked cigarettes while I was in the womb.

I’m embarrassed to admit the real reason I buy the NY Times. It’s like coming clean and admitting that you aren’t the person that you pretend to be, a let down in a sense. My family has an idea of my secret, they think I buy it because of the travel section. And they are partially right, it's the second section I read. However, when I tell you the real reason why I buy a newspaper for $3.50 and throw 75% of it out, you will understand every single one of my character flaws and see the soon to be not-so-secret secret.

I am addicted to the Sunday Styles wedding announcements.

I’m embarrassed to make this admission because it showcases every single stereotype that I embody: a social climbing desperate NYC single woman.

There is a certain glamour in getting your announcement in the Times. It implies that you are special: that your wedding is newsworthy, possibly an allusion to current or a future connection to high society. In layman’s terms, that you are worth knowing.

I read it for solely aspirational purposes, on the other hand. And to look for exes of mine who may have accidentally “made it,” with Daddy’s help. Seriously, it’s one thing to glance over at the names, see if anyone who you may have lost touch with since high school, college, or the encounter off of myspace. But, why do countless women, myself included and perhaps the most guilty offender, read the announcement in its entirety when we have no idea who the hell the people are? Like, if I have never met Amanda Moore and her future husband Peter, why do I continue to read, engrossed that she went to Yale while he went to MIT?

Instead of a train wreck, I’m caught staring in jealous fascination at the superficial beauty that the announcement provides. For that split second, as you read just the highlights of a relationship, their best-of’s you become engrossed with a bizarre sense of fleeting intimacy that disappears by the write-up’s end. It’s just enough for you to give a damn as you read, until there is no more information to fuel your curiosity. There is a certain sense of hope that can be ascertained from the couples who have “made it”. Each announcement reinforcing the promise of the American dream fulfilled: play by the rules, find a good man, and see the future you can have!

However, it's similar to when you see a Lamborghini on the streets of NYC, you don’t notice the bald impotent man in the driver’s street. Or in this case, that poor Amanda is marrying an I-banker who she will never see and that sixty percent of the marriages that I read that Sunday aren’t going to last.

But for that split second, as you read about each couple, you don’t care that the announcement is as deep as the newsprint it is printed on. There is a big smiley picture and fabulous resume distracting from the fact that you can almost feel your thumb and forefinger touching each other as you hold the paper. It’s easy to get lost in the aspirational glamour of the Times’ announcements: Harvard boy meets MIT girl. Dad is Sr. VP at Goldman while mom is a homemaker. She is keeping her last name and will work for Tishman construction as a lead engineer. I wish for that, to have that glossy resume and for people to assume that I have a bright future ahead of me.

I will do anything to get my wedding announcement in the Times. Including going $40K into debt in order to ensure my fitness among the competition. And the truth of the matter is that my pedigree is not that impressive. I have to compensate using educational and professional achievement in order to make up for my families’ blue collar past.

Or so I thought.

With that degree from Oxford in hand, it looks like I am a shoe-in. Even if I marry an electrician.

I’ve begun to notice a disturbing trend. I remember the days where my mother and I used to read about the couples, excited to see the closest semblance to our family: a couple whose pedigree included a tiny New England college as opposed to the traditional Ivy. Back in the day, anything less was (almost) unheard of. Everyone was white, everyone went to Harvard or Yale, and all of the couples came from wealthy and impressive backgrounds. Unless I married a Rockefeller, I would not have made it into the Times--degreed from Oxford University or not.

Like all embarrassing addictions, sometimes you need to take a break. And with my life so crazy, I haven’t read the Sunday Times in about a few months. Now, I don’t know if it has to do with that new website redesign and they are desperate to sell more papers, or if this is a result at a growing trend towards democratization but, what the fuck? First of all, it was three full pages. When did the Times ever deem three full pages of people’s wedding announcements worthy to know about?!

Teachers, parents as insurance sales people, Queens College graduates. The announcements have been infiltrated by normal people! What has happened to my Times? Where is the aspirational inspiration that I am to derive? The bullshit promise that if I have the right educational, professional, familial, and neighborhood pedigree that I will be newsworthy and the assurance of upward mobility! That I will end up with someone successful, marry up! But it is not anymore. The NY Times has destroyed dating, revoked that promise. Because according to the Times now, everyone is special and worthy of their fifteen minutes. Meaning, I have no right to set my standards as high--if they are good enough for the Times, shouldn't they be good enough for me?

So, once again, I am back to square one. Learning that there are no guarantees for anything. Everything is in a constant state of change, including bastions of the old guard such as the wedding announcement page. But not to sound like a bitch, where am I supposed to place my wedding announcement? Like you really expect me to share the page with a Queens College graduate?

24 Comments:

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Madhatter said...

Wow, you're becoming a snob in your old age . . .

You wont share a page with a Queens College grad? Did your standards remain as high for people with whom you've shared your bed?

Interesting quandary, isn't it?

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Constant Dater said...

The point isn't so much snobbery as that the Times' Wedding Section didn't use to be such a Quaker summer camp: it's an institution of snobbery and conflicted aspiration. It's nice and all to include everyone, but it tends to devalue the aspiration. (Think of grade inflation. When a teacher lowers the bar for an A, then getting As doesn't mean as much, does it?)

I have a push-pull relationship with the Wedding Section. I kinda hate the sort of people who make the cut, but I still kinda aspire to be considered "good enough" to one day qualify for the listing that I don't want to have printed. Right of first refusal: I want to reject the Times, not the other way 'round.

I also have lots of catty, uncharitable thoughts about the announcees, i.e. "That ugly person found someone?" "She could get a hotter guy than that." "Marrying for money." "Oh honey, your husband is gay!" I don't feel bad making fun of i-bankers and daddy-buy-me-a-PR-career girls. "Normal" people don't invite much mockery from me.

I can deal with some "normal" people in the slow winter season. But plebes' announcements in the summer? Is nothing sacred anymore?

 
At 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You should be thankful that the SAT didn't have a written test when you took it. Did you have to submit a writing sample with your application to Oxford? If so, who did you get to write it for you?

 
At 4:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i too have ADD from a mom who smoked with me in utero. thanks mom!

 
At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

couldn't agree more!

 
At 5:21 PM, Anonymous slinkybender said...

One reason it looks so different than it did, say, twenty years ago is that the Social Register now publishes its own announcements.

Because, really, who cares about the Times anymore? NQOCD.

 
At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe the times got hip to the fact that not 100% of the readers are white-bred, silverspoon sucking ivy league shoo in's.

try someplace whiter, like Des Moines.

maybe people there would be impressed by what you grew up thinking would impress people. new yokers are over it.

 
At 5:53 PM, Blogger Hemline -------------- said...

Um hellllllloooo, where were you when the big announcement came out that people can now pay to ensure their announcement goes in?? Any NYT Weddings devotee knows this! Hence the loss of luster you are referring to. The Times they are a changin'..

 
At 6:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've worked there and can tell you the editor really likes artists in the classical fields-- composers, dancers, classical musicians-- the best. He generally frowns on the hoity-toitiest folk but publishes based on what is called "newsworthiness," though with weddings who knows what that actually means. Actually, strictly following the guidelines for submission (on the website) is a great way to get a leg up for publication... you wouldn't beleive what people send in...

 
At 8:26 PM, Blogger Constant Dater said...

So my beav shot: not going to get in?

I totally forgot they do paid ones now. I think they lay it out so you know which are paid/traditional ones. Which is almost worse than just submitting it the regular way. It's like doing the prom queen's homework so she'll let you talk to her. I know I don't have the pedigree for a proper announcement (small lib. arts college, pokey editorial job, etc.) so I'm just gonna hang with the theater kids.

The point, anon 5:39, is that making fun of i-bankers, trophy wives, expat Boston Brahmins, etc. is good clean fun. Otherwise it's just a bunch of boring announcements about people you don't know.

p.s. You got Gawked!

 
At 9:40 PM, Blogger Mahogany said...

oh fuck what they say shannon, one of the things that keeps me reading ur blogs is that u just say what is on ur mind and not worry about what others might think. the point of the blog is to share ur thoughts and really ur misadventures with strangers. after all without people like u, the world would be a bit dull. so what that u think i way below ur "high class" cuz i didn't go to an ivy college or that i never in my life have been in a limo or dated a rich man. shit i love my ramen noodles, old navy jeans and shopping at walmart. that is right i love walmart--i love the fact that i can get my fucking shampoo for 2 bucks and still look as good as paris hilton with her fucking $10,000 fake ass hair, or that i can get my nails done by lil asian people for 30 bucks while u bitches pay 120 for the same damn thing. yeah i'm a cheap ass, low class, flip flop wearing, walmart shopping midwest girl. but i'm still entertained by ur blog and really isn't that what it is about? keep it up girl and i cant wait until u get to oxford and cause some hell---those english boys are in trouble.

 
At 9:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"you wouldn't beleive what people send in..."

O I can belive it .. However snobbery .. poo poo on it
"Thank you ADD and to my mother who smoked cigarettes while I was in the womb."
Take responsiblity ..both are not show stoppers .. get over it


s[!]tt[!]e
---------------------------
Someplace in loneliness we find our true selfs
-> Funny Junk <-
http://www.howsmyblah.com/blahlink

 
At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uh...the Times Wedding section changed a loong time ago...

It's embarassing to admit in certain circles, but I absolutely agree with you about the Times. Being a born and raised New Yorker and the product of several elite private schools (scholarship student, fuckers) reading the Sunday wedding page used to be mandatory. I couldn't wait to see which Brooks, Adair or Cutler (those are FIRST names, by the way) had taken the plunge.

I wouldn't call it aspirational, though - just entertaining - particularly because I knew (from a very early age) that most of those marriages were going to end in divorce - which they have.

Anyway, when The Times started letting just anybody submit their announcement many of the people I grew up with just stopped touting their impending nuptials in the Times.

Thank god we still have the Social Register.

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it humorous that chicks who use $2 shampoo think they can look like Paris Hilton. That's kind of like thinking that the cheap ass corner bar is really as cool as the hot downtown club. Get a clue...

 
At 10:46 AM, Anonymous ANP said...

I was happy to see an old friend from middle school nerd camp (and also college) appear in the wedding sxn. She had blossomed so wonderfully from an awkward dorky teen to a beautiful, radiant, elegant woman. And it seems she married a nice boy to boot.


It gave me hope that I too can someday blossom from an awkward dorky teen to a beautiful, radiant, elegant woman, sharing adventures with a nice boy.


Reading the wedding sxn gives me the same frisson of pleasure as peeking into people's apartment windows from the street.

 
At 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

loved this, can anyone tell me how to get on Social Register? What the fuck?

Also- no one mentions how when its one girl's photo only, sans groom, doesn't this imply the groom is ass-ugly?
That always makes me chuckle

 
At 12:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you aspire to emulate anything about P. Hilton, you're a fucking loser. Same goes for people who think a wedding announcement in the NYT means anything.

 
At 1:03 PM, Anonymous CHJ said...

"get on Social Register"....
hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

I'm sorry, but that's just hilarious.

 
At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who says you can't take cheap shots at the regular people? I'm an unknown blue collar NYC native here who went out of her way to do the undergrad in an unknown Maryland school--I make fun of all who deserve it. The IB-ers I write about and the hipsters at my grad school are on the same playing field.

By the way, I also make fun of writers who use "The times they are a changin'." Nice way to abuse Bob Dylan the way thousands of hacks before you have done.

 
At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The times they are a changin'"--biggest cliche ever. Too bad Oxford can't teach its pupils to stop abusing Bob Dylan. This phrase should be left to hacks who couldn't be journalists. You know the kind--they're in P.R. now.

 
At 5:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For your edification, peasants:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Register

 
At 1:32 PM, Blogger ella w. said...

Check out "Veilied Conceit" Fuck all those smug Harvard/Ibanker/Lawyer marrieds. I give most of them 5 years tops!

 
At 11:51 PM, Blogger Seaurchin said...

I will never understand the point of looking marriages up in the NYT. I mean who cares who makes it into a the marriage section of a newspaper that will line the bottom of a bird cage?

I didn't even know that their was a marriage section!!!

I don't understand the obsession. Its like that phenomenon where people go crazy when they see a star in the street. So what a star is just an overpaid person who still takes a shit at the end of the day like everyone.

How does being or not being in this stupid section change your life???

 
At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dah-ling, you should know better than to trust the Times with your climbing. Try this instead: http://www.newyorksocialdiary.com/
Make sure to check me out on the Society's Darlings page!


Toodles,
Missy

 

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