Most people in High School assumed that I was gay.
Given my situation, this was understandable.
To the narrow-minded Orange County adolescent I fit all the stereotypes.
I was small.
I was bad at sports.
I was interested in the arts.
I could dance.
I had a slight lisp due to grinding my teeth as a child.
I wore a messenger bag.
But most importantly, I didn’t date women.
I didn’t date men either. I just didn’t date, period.
This was due to the fact that I had been strictly prohibited from courting goyim.
Considering there were at most five eligible Jewish women in my school who were all out of my league, it meant I would have to find a mating pool elsewhere.
But where? Two words: the valley.
An hour up the 405 freeway was an entire town seemingly inundated with Jewish women just waiting to be kissed.
Back in 1999 it was like walking into an N’Sync music video. Everybody drove a sports utility vehicle with a compact disc player just to get around the suburbs. There was valet parking everywhere. And the women. They wore giant sunglasses with shaded lenses, rhinestones, leather pants, faux snakeskin pants, jean skirts, Abercrombie and Fitch, bedazzled bandanas and heart shaped Tiffany’s charms. They referred to themselves as ‘Japs’, though most often as ‘Jappy.’
I didn’t understand.
Not only did the name seem downright derogatory, but they didn’t look Japanese to me.
It was explained to me that there was certain pride in being a Jewish American princess. A modern re-appropriation and incorporation of the slur into cultural identity. In fact the impetus for this week’s post came from a friend of mine who is a self proclaimed ‘Jewish American Princess.’ Over a discussion at the Whole Foods off Coldwater, I explained that I was working on a series of images of contemporary Jewish life. She peered at me over her Chanel sunglasses and said ‘draw a picture of a Jap, I’d buy one.’ On her license plate frame reads the following phrase: ‘I’m not spoiled, just well taken care of.’
And yes, its an SUV.