Last weekend, we celebrated a friend’s milestone birthday by renting a party trolley that took us to several bars around town. Naturally, based on the wonders I’ve witnessed, it was requested that I make the playlist for the three hour ride through the city.
It was a smash.
You see, I’m not the kind of guy who is going to throw on a bunch of top 40 hits so you can roundly ignore them while you carry on shitty conversations. I’ll also be damned before I ever, EVER, hit shuffle on a playlist. No, I CRAFT the thing, feel through the ebbs and flows of a party, run through “rehearsals” as I play the first and last 10 seconds of every song over and over so I can hear the transitions. Is the tempo change too abrupt? Is there too much of a dynamic shift? Should I hold back on a club banger here so when I play it later it launches even further, like a toy car with a pullback motor? How good really is Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” when sandwiched between the Crue and The Boss? (Answer: not very good)
I want people to FEEL something. Joy, mostly, but loss, too–even regret. While they’re listening to my playlist, I want them to feel the most alive they’ve ever felt, and conversely the most aware of their impending death, as light never feels so bright as it does in relation to shadow. I want those moments to count, and when they lie in their deathbeds tallying the score, I hope that just under marriages and births, they rank the time I hit them with “Always Be My Baby” right after Icona Pop’s “I Love It” as the greatest moment of their lives, because the combination of a coked-out party anthem and a nostalgic eighth grade dance jam brought them an innocent yet nihilistic joy. I hope they remember the way the sun streamed in just then. I hope they feel it again as the light fades from their eyes and feel glorious release as they shit themselves one last time.
It isn’t writerly exaggeration when I say that an engaged couple on that trolley asked me to DJ their wedding. My hands were burned red from high fives. The trolley driver expressed concern over the structural integrity of the 80-year-old machine as we pounded out the beats on the ceiling. The trashcan overflowed with bone dry beer cans and fifths of whiskey that disappeared like Malaysian airplanes…
Except…there was this one girl…
Every time a country song came on, like, “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” she would scream from the back of the bus–and through the throngs singing along to the chorus–“CHANGE THE SONG!” When I played “Under Pressure” she cried out, “NEXT!” And she could not handle that I played “Invisible Touch,” as if the eponymous album from which it spawned didn’t go platinum SIX TIMES. As if it wasn’t Genesis’ undisputed masterpiece. Somehow, it was completely lost on her that 50 people were having an incredible time, and perhaps she should shut her cunty little mouth and enjoy herself. In some batshit personal reality, it never even dawned on her that maybe I put a lot of effort into this playlist, and that multiple hours where everyone is dancing is not erased by a single song she happens to not agree with. She even went so far as to chastise me for the playlist on the way off the bus, as if I owed her better–as if I owed her anything. I just nodded.
Now, there’s something to be said here about humanity’s tendency to focus on the negative (both she and I are guilty there), or about a current culture of whiplash criticism (see: the recent Colbert dust-up), or the entitlement of semi good-looking women. But the one thing I can’t seem to get past, the thing I keep coming back to, is that this never would have happened if she was a dude.
I’m fond of saying that I’m pro-feminist, so long as women know what that means. You want to improve that 77 cents to the dollar deficit you’re currently operating at? We’ll all gladly amend income disparity, so long as you start paying for dinner, opening doors, and let men be little spoon once in a while. But I find most females want to hold onto the luxury of traditional gender roles in culture while claiming themselves “feminist.” Thus, a young woman can talk all the shit she wants with no consequence to the man who just gave his blood, sweat, and tears to the party at which she is a guest.
I’m certain there isn’t a guy reading this article right now who hasn’t had MULTIPLE women brazenly, drunkenly, and unfairly accost him at a party for some vague reason–it’s usually something about how you “got in her way” or “ran into her,” and that’s an injustice that just will not stand. I’d wager that number is exponentially higher than the number of men who’ve ever talked to you that way. But you can’t tell her to fuck off. That wouldn’t be gentlemanly. And Christ, you can’t punch her. You don’t WANT to punch her (you want to punch her boyfriend). She’s a woman, a delicate flower, a frail gift from God, and she only makes 77 cents to my dollar, the poor thing. And so, the cycle continues; she can act like an asshole and the world continues to condescend her, patting her on the head, and sending her on her way. That world without consequence frees her from failure, while forging the cell bars that keep her from true success.
There were 20 other women on that trolley who were wonderful people. But they had an opportunity at that moment to change the world. They should have punched their compatriot right in the fucking tits and told her to shut up. You know why? Because they’ve been cast into an unfair world, and true change has to come from within. Take responsibility for your gender. Take back your inherent power ladies, demand more of your peers, you mothers, you bosses, you titans. You are lionesses. You are Athena. So just once, please, let me be little spoon.