Fortunately I reside in perhaps the most culturally diverse area of Los Angeles. Everyone’s represented here living their varying cultured experiences, seldom overlapping yet considerately aware of one another’s presence. I am close with my neighbours a family from Bangladesh. When at their home I am introduced as a family friend, which is particularly heart warming being how I am invariably the only Westerner at their gatherings.
In observance of their youngest son’s certain rite of passage a two hundred and fifty person celebration was held at a local pavilion. What a spectacular affair, with so much dancing, an abundance of food, and impeccably dressed women wearing dazzling traditional dress accentuated by heavily made up faces. I went to great lengths to look as well put together as possible being how my presence is, received with a great deal of curiosity.
I was seated at a table of young women who spent the entire time talking about the lack of good looking, eligible Bangladesh young men, their make up, University and their struggle to lose weight all without the slightest hint of seriousness. I spoke little, danced a great deal and enjoyed an honest good time.
At one of my pit stops at our table the girls inquired after my jewellery or should I say lack of it. The questioning caught me off guard yet made complete sense in reflection. Let’s face it jewellery denotes a female’s value/worth in most cultures and these women (of all ages) were dripping with it. Large nose rings with chains that linked to an earlobe, headpieces, anklets, toe rings, a never ending assortment of bangles, necklaces—gold everywhere it was dizzying to take it all in. I, in comparison with my seemingly meager pair of ruby gold studs was practically naked! I felt flushed with all eyes fixed on me waiting for a plausible response. Why am I not adorned, me, who appreciates all things beautiful? What does it mean, and why is this the case? It’s not a though I have never had items bestowed my way over the years from the occasional admirer, but when the time came such gifts had to be returned as my interest waned—seemed like the appropriate thing to do at the time.
“ Well,” I squeaked as I cleared my throat, “I’m rather partial to that hard leaning gangster type shit that sadly hasn’t come my way of late.”
“OOOOh,” the women graciously chimed in unison, nodding their heads as though my explanation made complete sense.
Admittedly, a brief uncomfortable silence fell on the table, then as if instructed we got up and continued to dance instead.
Images: elhieroglyph.com marilyumyum.tumblr.com