Jean Barker

Dry humour

2015-10-09 09:10

Jean Barker

The drought is making me realize just how much I live in denial of the fact that the planet is dying and it's partly my fault. 

So if you’re the kind of person that loves guns, you’ll argue that it’s not guns that blast a hole in the body, leading to death, it’s “people with guns”. This ignores the fact that people who buy guns do so to give themselves the power to blast a hole in another human, which to me (call me crazy) means they probably shouldn’t be allowed a gun. Maybe only people who don’t want guns should have one! 

If you’re the kind of person who loves hamburgers, you deny that the corn syrup in the bun is causing anal leakage, and the cows are brutalised for their meat and polluting the water table, and consuming vast resources in terms of transport, land and water, and oh, oh, speaking of water…

If you’re the kind of person who loves to take long, hot showers, or water your lawn, you’ll be denying the fact that Southern California is in the throes of one of the worst droughts in 100 years. If you’re not denying it, you’ll probably be denying the fact that you have any role to play in dealing with the problem. 

Denial takes plenty of amusing forms. The whole thing takes me back to my childhood, when South Africa suffered a terrible drought, in the 80s. This was the days of Calvinist “morality” which condoned the oppression of millions but thought nipples pissed God off.

Not even nipples, actually. One preacher claimed the drought was God’s punishment for women wearing bikinis (David Kramer wrote a song about it). And while you now have to ask for water in restaurants, to save water, “grassholes” continue to over-water their lawns, and the authorities won’t cut off one super rich one-percenter in Bell-Air, who uses 1300 gallons of water per hour. Yes, per hour. 

We hate this guy, but we aren't so different. We don’t want to give up the things that suck the moisture out of the eart - our hamburgers, our long showers, our almond milk (yes, hipsters), even if it puts us in massive debt to the planet that we can never pay back. The few millimeters of rain we just had may have turned the hills of Hollywood green, but it can’t save us. 

Only we can save us

But we won’t save us, because it’s just a human thing to deny the truth when the truth interferes with short term pleasure. Nothing makes me happier when I’m flat broke than going to a store with my credit card and buying a new dress. It’s not the dress. I don’t need a dress. I just love spending money. It’s like: “Look, I’m not broke. I just bought this. So I can’t be. Suck it!”

And in this time of drought, I love nothing more than a night at the Korean spa – one of LA’s best-kept secrets. Aside from the relaxing factor of being totally naked among 10s of other totally naked women who don’t care that they are naked, there’s water everywhere. Big, hot, pools of it. Big, cold pools of it. Steamy saunas. Showers.

I tell myself “they recycle it, and we’re sharing it, so it’s a good thing”, but the truth is I have never checked on that, because I don’t want to know about it, any more than I want to check my bank balance before I book a holiday.   

Maybe that’s why I’m so happy here – because deep down I love living in a place that allows me to deny the consequences of my actions on a daily basis, never have anyone wag a finger at me, and then feel outraged just the same at the results of my wrongdoing once I’m personally asked to pay.

Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here.

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