By Will Durst
And now for a few choice words concerning my recent demotion to the status of second- class citizen. The amazing thing is how quickly my metamorphosis into Cockroachlandia occurred. One minute, I’m walking around like an ordinary human; the next minute, I’m an insect, an unwanted stiff, a bum, a vagabond, a jamoke. About as popular as feet in a punchbowl.
It seems America is splitting into two different categories: first class and… wherever I am. Which is as far from prosperous as Kathmandu is to Kansas. Tiffany’s and the Dollar Store. A 3 star Michelin restaurant on the banks of the Seine and a Fresno Jack in the Box.
And, on the off- chance I might contract amnesia about my proper position in the big picture, a conspiracy of swells has assumed responsibility to remind me of my new station. And found a primitive but effective tool to keep my in my place. Talking about the ubiquitous red velvet rope used to separate the VIPs from the hoi polloi. The universal symbol for exclusion.
Sometimes the rope is a single scarlet supine snake protecting a door or an entranceway from the intrusion of loathsome louts such as me. But often there are whole armies of chrome stanchions connecting miles of crimson strands to keep me from traversing into tantalizingly unknown opulence. Sometimes, just a bathroom.
You see them everywhere. In nightclubs, restaurants, theme parks, casinos; wherever they congregate, the wealthy have demanded the option to pay more not to have to rub elbows with the likes of me. And businesses are only too happy to provide the room. Usually excising it from spaces the general public formerly roamed freely. Such as bathrooms.
These days, everything and everyone are subject to affluence apartheid. Resorts reserve their best poolside locations for the exclusive use of those who can pony up for cabanas. Members- only skyboxes grow larger and larger at sports venues where the elite can meet, greet, eat, bleat and escape the heat.
Want to skip to the head of the reservation line at the hottest restaurant in town? There’s an app for that. But it’s going to cost you. Private clubs and restricted lounges come with monthly dues that approximate mortgage payments for some of us. San Francisco and Manhattan are becoming velvet- roped cities. Only the loaded and bloated need apply.
Toll roads allowing the rich to whiz by are multiplying like candy peeps at Easter while the rest of us eat each other’s exhaust at a snail’s pace. The rich are also able to purchase special perks. Apparently, BMW drivers aren’t even required to use turn signals.
On airlines, back in steerage, I’m crammed into a seat that an emaciated 12 year old would find confining, regularly slamming my chin into my knees, while the upscale folks up front sleep flat on 600 thread- count Egyptian cotton. It’s the 21st Century segregation- rich versus the rest of us. The country clubbing of America.
Ironically, once access is gained, the rewards are usually disappointing. Bad lighting. Spotty wifi. Weak coffee. Canned canapés. And lousy company.
It’s only a matter of time before the well- heeled band together to protect their divisive ways by creating a political party that focuses on the proliferation of these red velvet ropes. Oh yeah. That’s right. They already have.
Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed political comic. Go to willdurst.com for information on personal appearances including his new one- man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG,” and more about the new documentary film “3 Still Standing.”