Like Us

(Over 21)

Sometimes people just like being among their own.

“But I’m black and you’d rather be around me than some white people.” says a black woman to Lacey.

“True.”

“You wear monogram.” she says.

“True.”

“And Launer is not it. That’s not right. That’s you wanting to be you.” she says. “I get that. You’re right. Sometimes you just need to be along your own.” She licks her lips. Blinks. “No. That’s not what I’m bothered by. It’s the white flight from Gucci. The white flight from Louis Vuitton monogram.”

Silence.

“I don’t think you get it, Lacey.” she says.

“I do love quiet luxury though.” says Lacey.

“Yes! But you are the definition of quiet luxury. Your whole life is that. They’re following you.”

“That’s almost impossible for me to believe.”

Silence.

“But you’re a part of that.”

“Fair enough.”

Silence.

“What are they doing?!” asks Lacey.

“I think they are trying to escape.”

Silence.

“And that’s where I have to decide if I feel empathy or if I feel sympathy for them.” she says.

Silence.

“My instinct is to feel sympathy.” She thinks.

“Why?!”

“Because they seem disadvantaged somehow.”

“True. But sympathy may be patronizing.” says Lacey.

“You’re right.”

“I mean some things are white. And rightly so. And some things are English. And some things are black. And some things are African. And some things are Ethiopian.” says Lacey.

“You have a deep fascination with Ethiopia.” she says.

“I do. It fascinates me. Possibly because it confirms my suspicions about a lot of things.” says Lacey.

“I think there are racial differences and then there’s evil. Vive la difference.” She thinks. “See, I want to say that all black people are United. But we’re not. That being said we are all black.” She thinks. “Do you feel even that much unity with white people who refuse to wear monogram because I do?”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Because they seem like pedophiles who would like to kill me and my kids.” says Lacey.

“Because your ex-husband is half Jewish, so to speak?”

“No. I wish.”

“Why then?”

“I don’t know. But to me it looks like simple narcissism.”

“I wear Louis Vuitton!” announces a middle-class Hispanic woman.

“I know. I’ve heard that Hispanic subculture celebrates luxury.” says Lacey.

The Hispanic woman nods. Smiles.

“But see. If she was insecure about herself at all she’d be coming at you right now.” says the black woman.

“But that’s very much a Hispanic thing. It’s their thing.” says Lacey.

“No. She’s right. In white culture it looks pretentious. Like, literally pretentious to wear so much opulence if you’re not genuinely loaded. Which was the insult you thought you got from the perfume community years ago. …You thought they were challenging you to a fight. A duel, if you will. …But no. She’s right. We allow ourselves luxury and glamor for the sake of how it looks.”

“Why have so many Hispanic people tried to seem more white to me than I am?” asks Lacey.

“You’re right. It’s absurd. They’ll never be you. You’ll never be them.” she smiles. “But a lot of that is internalized racism.” She thinks. “They’ve cut themselves off from us. They no longer think they’re Latino. They think they’re somebody now.” She looks upset. “And you threaten that delusion and it’s soul crushing to them.” She smiles. “Because they’re too bourgeois to get it.” She thinks. “They should lean in to their heritage. And be proud of it to get real elite respect. But people don’t have the courage and elegance of mind to be that powerful nowadays too often.“

“Some wanna-be WASP with a lot of fake prestige she bought at Barney’s…probably bullied someone in the 1990’s or 2000’s and ruined the multi-culturalism we used to celebrate.” says Lacey.

“Some white girl shaking her ass constantly?” says the black woman.

“Yes.”

“What exactly does that mean?” asks the Hispanic woman. She laughs.

“It means being a sell-out.” says Lacey. “A sellout to your core. It means sacrificing your soul or not having one that’s fully operational. Unfortunately.” She thinks. “But it’s more about someone who could choose to be good but chooses not to be to gain social acceptance.” Silence. “And by acceptance I don’t mean fellowship and love. I mean mean, narcissistic people not bullying you.”

“So you see today’s rampant narcissism as the true zombie apocalypse?” she asks.

“Yes. I think it is.” she says.

“No. I’m proud to be Hispanic.” the lady says.

“And I’m proud to be black.” says the black woman.

“But that’s too real. And scary!” says Lacey, sarcastically.

The Hispanic woman smiles. “I doubt your father would have been scared.”

“No. I mean cultural change is scary. But if it’s not evil it’s just change.” Lacey says.

“Okay! So this is going to sound racist. But it’s not. …If your family became true old-money in 100 years…and people still wore Louis Vuitton monogram…would you still wear it?” asks the black woman of the Hispanic woman.

“If it was still being made like it is now…then yes. It would be special to my family, hopefully.” she says.

“Because you wore it back when.” says the black woman. “You always loved it.”

Silence.

“What does your family have that wasn’t part of their acquired tastes due to their social ascendancy and growing sophistication over generations? And don’t claim silver. That’s Norwegian. But it doesn’t count.” she says to Lacey.

Entirely undiminished, Lacey thinks.

“Well. That depends. If I’m illegitimate oil painting. New York itself. Making money. Travel.” she smiles. “And either way, skiing. Eating fish. Wearing layers.” she laughs. “Eating potatoes smothered in gravy. Loving England unconditionally.”

The Hispanic woman cries. “I know what you mean about loving a country unconditionally.”

“I do need to try to research my lineage more.” says the black woman. “My black lineage.”

“Your protection of us in this conversation is intriguing.” says the black woman.

“It’s not us.” says a true Nazi. “I’m a ghost of a man who worked in a concentration camp.” He thinks. “They need to stop using us!” He thinks. “They have no idea what we went through!!!” he yells. “The living keep trying to use witchcraft to invoke power. But it’s not real. We don’t consent.” He thinks. “The power we had in the Third Reich.” He scoffs. “I’m sick of seeing American boys spit in my face pretending to be me.”

“I don’t think they see it that way.” says the Hispanic woman.

“So to you it’s not just about being white.” says a white supremacist.

Patronizingly, “Are you German?! What are you?” asks the German.

“I’m somewhat German. I’m also Czech.” says the white supremacist.

“But that’s not German? Right?” says the Nazi.

“No. It’s not.” he responds.

“And I’m supposed to respect that?! I’m dead!” he yells. “I was blown-up. Was it your grandfather who killed me?!”

Open-mouthed. “Do you think it’s futile?”

“That we’ll just go back to fighting amongst ourselves?”

“Yes, of course. But it’s a pipe dream anyway. The Europeans already did it for centuries, and it didn’t last forever.” He thinks. “You have to remember I’m dead.”

Silence.

“There’s nothing wrong, in my opinion, with fighting to preserve a culture and a race. It’s normal even. But it’s difficult. And you have to keep your motives straight.” says the German.

“Yes. I agree.” says the black woman. “That’s the thing. I’m not against interracial marriage. But it’s nice to see some families that are just black too.”

“Why can’t we say that?” asks Lacey.

“Why do you think that is?” asks the white supremacist.

“Narcissism. Toxic, destructive narcissism.” she responds. “Some people want to destroy actual diversity.”

“Were we really this messed-up in the 1980’s and 90’s?” asks the white supremacist.

“No and yes, I think.” she says. “We were repressing a lot, but we were also all more mentally stable.”

“Do you think it’s a conspiracy or an accident?” he asks.

“Both. I think there was maybe a literal Communist plot to subliminally bring about a communist revolution in the US. Starting in the 1930’s. …But racially…I think there are wars. Open and covert. But that’s to be expected at this point in human history. But a conspiracy outside of a communist conspiracy from long ago that’s still affecting us? I doubt it.” She thinks. “I mean every subgroup has a megalomaniac conspiracy about it. And they’re all true and untrue in the sense that they all do want power. But I don’t think one is necessarily worse than another?”

“Well slavery was evil. So there’s that.” says the white supremacist. “We treated them worse than cattle very often.” He thinks. “But…even if you got rid of every ounce of my racism I’d still be inherently suspicious of someone that different than me. Not necessarily convinced of their inferiority even. Just suspicious.”

“It’s the racism that’s problematic in my opinion. Given evil I don’t think it hurts to be careful.“ Lacey says.

“But what? Given slavery and racism you all are weak, impotent angels?!” says the white supremacist to the black woman.

“I’m too bourgeois to be kind at this point.” says the black woman. She thinks. “And it is a class issue. Black people have been relegated to the bourgeois, at best. In the US.” She thinks. “Mostly. Even if it’s actually very unnatural for some of us.“

“And that’s so destructive.” says Lacey.

“What would happen if we hadn’t been shut out?” says the black woman.

“Poorer white people would feel more sympathy for themselves.” says Lacey. “And they’d start to see who’s actually at fault.”

“The Jews.” says a white supremacist jokingly.

“No, greed. Evil. People who don’t care about God. Who don’t care about what God is.” says the Hispanic woman. “Or people who use His name in vain.”

“Ewww!” says a half white half Hispanic woman to the full Hispanic woman. “I don’t like your super-religiosity!” She thinks. “The people I know you sound like you have arms full of track marks.”

“Do you ever wear big tan hats?” asks an actress.

She stares. “Like a fedora?”

“Like a nice, wide-brimmed fall hat.” says another actress.

“Umm. Yeah.” she says, confused.

“How’s being white going for you?” asks the white supremacist.

“Not well, actually. Thank you. I went to a for-profit university. I was sold on the American Dream. And I’m not rich. I’m-“ she shakes her head, upset.

He looks sad.

“But you’re still Hispanic!” says the Hispanic woman with joy.

“Yes, but that’s a scary part of myself.” she says.

“But maybe you need to not see it as invaluable.” says the white supremacist. “It’s part of who you are.”

“What about my silly hat?”

“Then grieve your silly hat side for being silly enough to wear a silly hat! And ask yourself why you wear it!” says the Hispanic.

“I just feel like I have no way to win.” says the half Hispanic woman.

“Why must you win?” asks an African ghost.

“I don’t see how I’m beautiful as a Hispanic.” she says.

Lacey looks at her like she’s speaking the absurd. The offensively absurd.

“Do you really find it that genuinely offensive?” asks the half Hispanic woman.

“Yes.”

“It’s like you’re forcing me to see the Queen as akin to a real cultural renegade. …And…I just wasn’t as smart as you. I’m a narcissist. But you really aggravated my narcissism too though.” says the half Hispanic woman.

“In the perfume community?” asks Lacey.

“Yeah. Sure. I couldn’t afford perfume. But sure.” she says, rolling her eyes.

“Why did you join the perfume community?! Why did you try to fit in and keep up with me?!” asks Lacey.

“No. That’s a fair question.” says a middle-aged man.

“I wanted to feel superior. I found the idea of Minnesota romantic. I liked the idea of a Midwest with humble wealth that would accept me. In my mind…you were all infinitely inferior to the wealth of the East Coast. …I didn’t realize that your actual dad might be original Manhattan, so to speak.” she laughs. “Or one of the biggest gangsters in history at the same time. And New England old money too! Or your family who raised you owning a tenth of the oil industry, or whatever it is.” She breathes. “And whatever other Scandinavian merits they have. But that still isn’t as impressive to me as the houses in Rhode Island.” She shrugs. “Whatever. It sounds so dumb.”

“Well, no I get it.” says Lacey.

“See, I’m still more impressed by her plantation family on her mom’s side to be honest.” says a white southerner.

“My white family was never that wealthy!” says the half Hispanic woman.

“Mine wasn’t either! That’s why I hate her.” says a Liberal white woman.

“Would you shut-up?!” says the other white woman from the perfume community.

“I don’t think you understand the Midwest.” Lacey says to the half Hispanic woman.

The southern woman nods her head. “No, see that’s where I relate as a southerner. We don’t need that much wealth. I mean, wealth is nice, but it’s not necessary to be that wealthy.”

“Well, to keep others in line it might be. But that wasn’t my intention in the perfume community.” says Lacey.

“What the Hell were you trying to do?!” asks the southern white woman in the perfume community.

“I was being careless.” says Lacey.

“No!” she says.

“No?” asks Lacey.

She looks horrified. “So, why does the carelessness bother you?”

“Because I wasn’t thinking.” says Lacey.

“What were you supposed to be thinking about?” asks a dead woman.

“My place in the community. How I could contribute to it.” says Lacey.

“You did that!” says a hater.

“You should have been our servant!” yells a hater.

“Why? Why? I don’t get your logic in that. She’s so much smarter than you guys. You guys are peasants compared to her.” says the half Hispanic woman says.

“Okay. But they don’t know that. They think they’re a big deal for fake reasons.” says the white southern woman.

“Because we knew so much more about perfume.” says the hater.

“If you did then why were you so threatened?!” asks an English woman.

“They all copied you too.” says the half Hispanic woman. “And I think we expected you to be more evil because that’s the narrative we have. Even about Midwestern wealth.”

“Her family might be more evil.” says another hater.

“The point is that she’s not.” says the half Hispanic woman.

“You guys really weren’t the experts you claim to be.” says a perfume collector. “It was actually depressing watching you cower to her. Even though you did it by being passive aggressive.” She scoffs.

“But it’s a show.” says a black perfume collector. “It’s only partially real.”

“True, but not for all of us. Some of us took it more seriously.” says the Englishwoman.

The half Hispanic woman nods.

“Well, I treat it like a show.” says the black man.

“And that works for you?” asks Lacey.

The southern woman laughs. “Lacey, you want to enjoy the highbrow aspects. And they exist. But-“

“You really are different. There is no dirt under your nails symbolically or otherwise. And I’m sure that’s appalling to some and reassuring to others.” A male hater thinks of Scott Fitzgerald.

“She gardens!” yells Elliott.

“But then who did you think would enjoy it the way you did?” asks the hater.

“I decided that didn’t matter.” says Lacey.

A ghost almost manifests in her dining-room.

“Why not?” asks a middle-aged man.

“I was going to try to make the narrative more cerebral.” says Lacey.

“That almost never works.” he says.

“True. But I didn’t expect to be popular. Just to use my First Amendment rights to be an independent woman.” She thinks. “Just a bit.”

“But the middle-class got too upset.” says the southern woman, sadly.

“They didn’t think you were dumb. You know that. You just made it no fun.” says a German perfume collector. “And it was easier to narcissistically lie about you than to leave you alone.”

“I don’t think you understand why we are so trashy.” says a gay perfume collector. “It’s to have fun. To let our hair down and have fun. And your way of having fun is cool. But for a lot of us it’s too much. It’s far too genuinely intellectual.” He thinks. “I’m not super upset. Although I am one of your haters. But…I wish you’d understood that before you accidentally started so many fights.”

“With my presence?” asks Lacey. “I mean what do you want me to do? Bourgeois people are everywhere now.”

“There is no safe space for you.” says the half Hispanic woman.

The black man thinks. He laughs. Shakes his head. Laughs harder.

“I think you have a right to be a chypre wearing, monogram totting, stick in the mud.” he laughs.

“People really don’t love you.” says the half Hispanic woman, aghast.

“No. They don’t.” says the black perfume community leader. “But at least I have some human decency and common sense.”

She looks at Lacey.

“I think women think you’re powerless and loved because of all your blessings. Not the other way around.” says a hater.

“It makes them feel too trashy to think otherwise.” says the Illuminati hater.

“Not necessarily.” says the half Hispanic woman. She laughs.

“People aren’t very loving nowadays though.” says a sociopath.

“That’s true.” says Lacey.

“Aren’t people required to be loved to be safe?” laughs a sociopath.

“I knew some sociopaths.” says Tom.

“You’re not who we wanted you to be.” says a gay man.

“No. She’s not a Marilyn.” says a German perfume wearer. “The blond hair and the sexy smile confused the crap out of a lot of us.”

“Aren’t you supposed to know blond women in your country?” asks someone.

“Jah!” He sighs.

“But it’s still our bar.” the white gay man says.

“Sure!” says the white supremacist.

“What are you going to do? Try to kill me over Lem and my presence in the perfume community?” says Lacey.

“Why don’t you want her wearing perfume? Are you worried you’ll lose your mens?” says an older Hispanic man.

“No.” he rolls his eyes. Scoffs.

“Is that silence a threat? Speak-up.” says Lacey.

“No.” he responds.

“Are you sure? I can interpret it as a threat if you want me to.” she says sweetly. Femininely.

“Thanks. That could be a fascinating experience. But I think I’m content to let you be for now.” says a gay man.

“Aww!” says a hateful, white, bourgeois woman to Lacey.

“Haha! That’s not your insult you fool!” he says to the woman.

“I don’t want to attack you.” says Lacey to the gay man. “Can you try to think for a quick second and not just blabber?”

“Do I blabber a lot?” he asks.

“That’s all you mostly ever do.” she says to this specific man.

“Because I seem devoid of love.” he says.

“Yes.”

“No, I do love perfume. Truly.” he says.

“You can’t steal my perfume or my bar to get off on the idea of one-upping my soul.” says Lacey.

“Some boys are very competitive, you bitter prick?” says Joe Jr. to this gay man.

“She’s not a boy?” he responds.

“No.” says Joe.

The Nazi laughs.

“She never was.” Joe says.

“Lacey has never been a man? And maybe we went too far with our assumptions about Jack and Lem?”

“Well, now that you put it that way, it’s not necessary for you to let go of your assumptions. Lem Billings chose to live his life like a gay man. And I couldn’t stop him, one way or another.” says Lacey. “Go ahead and think what you think is true. Just don’t be a nuisance.” says Lacey.

“You don’t think he was ever gay.” says the gay man.

“That’s the impression he’s given me.” she says. “Should I be allowed to talk to his ghost.”

“Does that actually baffle your mind too?” asks a gay man.

“Yes! Very much so!” says Lacey.

“He reminds me of a Charlotte.” says a gay man. “I think he’s capable of being that confused.”

“That’s really disturbing.” says Lacey.

Michael nods his head.

“Have you two ever had anal?” asks another gay man.

“Yes. But I was curious.” says Lacey. “And I wanted to share that with him.”

They look at her with shock. Some.

“No. I get it. But it wasn’t his idea?!” asks a gay man.

“No. And he didn’t like it as much as heterosexual sex.” says Lacey.

“He’s the one who told you that anal sex is crap compared to vaginal?” asks a gay man, seething. He laughs. “You really are barely American.”

“Okay! But just because he didn’t like it as much as women doesn’t mean we feel the same.” says a gay man.

“That’s fair.” says Lacey.

“Do you actually feel like he’s there?” asks a gay man.

“Yes.” says Lacey.

“Oh my gosh! You two actually sinned.” says a Catholic.

“Assuming you’re not mocking me, yes.” says Lacey. “I have asked for God’s forgiveness.”

“What if you were married though?” asks someone.

“And I let myself get hit by a bus?” asks Lacey. “In London.” She thinks. “I doubt that. But of course, I don’t know.”

A gay man nods.

“So what did you think of anal?!” asks a gay man, brightly.

“It was…not that great. Not terrible. But not that great, either.”

“So straight people really do like what they do.” says a gay man. He thinks. “You just love making love.”

“Don’t you?” asks Lacey.

“I’d like to.” he says with melancholy.

“If I wasn’t completely evil, I’d like to wink.” says Dali.

“And no, that does not mean she’s me reincarnated.” says Zelda.