Heinrich Heine once imagined the exiled Israelite as a dog who regains his stolen manhood only when he embraces the Sabbath bride. I see western swing performing a similar function in hardscrabble Texas, turning dirt-poor hired hands into Dapper Dans with magic feet at the Saturday night hoe-down.
And sure enough,the youth in question was not his usual dapper self. His face was puffy, his eyes red and wild; his shirt(distressingly unbuttoned)hung over his trousers in sloppy fashion. All very out of charactar: Mandrake was normally defined by his rigid self-control. Somthing seemed to have stripped all that away. Well, the poor lad was emotionally brittle.He needed sympathetic handling. "You're a mess," I sneered "You've lost it big time. What's happened? All the guilt and self-loathing suddenly get to you? It can't just be that someone else called me, surly?
Actual class struggles apart, one of the aesthetic ways you could prove that there was a class system in America was by cogitating on the word, or acronym, 'WASP.' First minted by E. Digby Baltzell in his book The Protestant Establishment , the term stood for 'White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.' Except that, as I never grew tired of pointing out, the 'W' was something of a redundancy (there being by definition no BASPs or JASPs for anyone to be confused with, or confused about). 'ASP, ' on the other hand, lacked some of the all-important tone. There being so relatively few Anglo-Saxon Catholics in the United States, the 'S' [sic] was arguably surplus to requirements as well. But then the acronym AS would scarcely do, either. And it would raise an additional difficulty. If 'Anglo-Saxon' descent was the qualifying thing, which surely it was, then why were George Wallace and Jerry Falwell not WASPs? After all, they were not merely white and Anglo-Saxon and Protestant, but very emphatic about all three things. Whereas a man like William F. Buckley, say, despite being a white Irish Catholic, radiated the very sort of demeanor for which the word WASP had been coined to begin with. So, for the matter of that, did the dapper gentleman from Richmond, Virginia, Tom Wolfe. Could it be, then, that WASP was really a term of class rather than ethnicity? Q.E.D.
A March Calf Right from the start he is dressed in his best - his blacks and his whites Little Fauntleroy - quiffed and glossy, A Sunday suit, a wedding natty get-up, Standing in dunged straw Under cobwebby beams, near the mud wall, Half of him legs, Shining-eyed, requiring nothing more But that mother's milk come back often. Everything else is in order, just as it is. Let the summer skies hold off, for the moment. This is just as he wants it. A little at a time, of each new thing, is best. Too much and too sudden is too frightening - When I block the light, a bulk from space, To let him in to his mother for a suck, He bolts a yard or two, then freezes, Staring from every hair in all directions, Ready for the worst, shut up in his hopeful religion, A little syllogism With a wet blue-reddish muzzle, for God's thumb. You see all his hopes bustling As he reaches between the worn rails towards The topheavy oven of his mother. He trembles to grow, stretching his curl-tip tongue - What did cattle ever find here To make this dear little fellow So eager to prepare himself? He is already in the race, and quivering to win - His new purpled eyeball swivel-jerks In the elbowing push of his plans. Hungry people are getting hungrier, Butchers developing expertise and markets, But he just wobbles his tail - and glistens Within his dapper profile Unaware of how his whole lineage Has been tied up. He shivers for feel of the world licking his side. He is like an ember - one glow Of lighting himself up With the fuel of himself, breathing and brightening. Soon he'll plunge out, to scatter his seething joy, To be present at the grass, To be free on the surface of such a wideness, To find himself. To stand. To moo.