Friday, February 13, 2015

Are you a snob? I am.

by J. Arlene Culiner

I’m a snob, aren’t you? Of course you are, no matter how fair-minded you believe yourself to be. We’re all human (I’m assuming, perhaps rather snobbishly, that our pets can’t read this article) and at one point or another, we’ve all looked down on someone, judged them to be inferior because of education, or looks, or taste, or behaviour, or speech, or a million other reasons.

Sure, some people really do behave badly, or are less educated, or are just terrible-looking. But how many times have we judged someone’s worth on…well…those pretty flimsy grounds? And how many times have we had to revise our opinion, eat our words, bury those first impressions and discover what the person in front of us — the one with the terrible chartreuse nose, pink eyes, pointy ears and long brownish fangs — is really like. Plenty. If your experience is anything like mine, you might have found yourself enjoying, even really liking, the person you were willing to reject.

So why are we snobs? Because we often feel insecure. Because we like to feel we’re superior. Because we don’t like challenging our own, carefully constructed opinions. Also because we don’t understand — don’t want to understand — another way of life, other values.

Being confronted by a snob is certainly an unpleasant experience, but that’s exactly what happens to Sherry Valentine, the heroine of my new release, A Swan’s Sweet Song. Sherry, a country music star, walks into a radio station, meets Carston Hewlett…and…well, he’s condescending, superior and arrogant. He’s not a bad guy. He’s kind, he’s creative, he’s pretty gorgeous, he’s talented, he’s gentle. But he’s also a highbrow, a well-known intellectual playwright. To him, country music belongs to the world of low-brow entertainment.

The problem is, Sherry and Carston are also very attracted to each other: fascination at first sight, you can call it.

So how does Sherry handle the situation? She does what we should all do when meeting a terrible snob: show our humanity. And when Sherry conveys her passion for music, Carston realizes how silly he’s been. That, even if their lifestyles, their backgrounds, are so very different, they can learn so much from each other.

And, that’s what they do, and they do it beautifully too. But there are also quite a few surprises in store for both of them…

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