The Sociology of Snobbery

some people never leave high school.

some people never leave high school.

For a down-to-earth lady, getting snubbed feels like a throwback to kindergarten. And the way it went down over the weekend, it seemed to have come straight out of a movie.

Recently, a few Portland girlfriends and I dressed up, Palm-Springs style in bright prints, for a relaxed night out at The Viceroy. It’s a stunning boutique hotel, tucked out-of-sight from the main downtown drag. It’s the ideal wedding spot if you love Old World-done-modern design, English gardens and Rococo chairs. Tall green hedges separate each part of the hotel from the other, so you feel like you’re stepping around someone’s intimate backyard. Against the mountain backdrop, this hotel is simply beautiful.

That night, the moment we entered the small bar area, we ran into a gaggle of five young ladies. One of them, with her tiara and white dress, was clearly the bachelorette. The funny thing is, they all happened to be blonde. And the three of us happened to be brunettes.

When we scooted behind their party, thinking about what we wanted to drink, the bachelorette shot us a glance of resentment, as if we had intruded upon their territory. She kept stealing looks, and the more she looked, the more her friends noticed us. We looked at them. It became a contest of who could look at the other girls the most without getting your gaze caught in the mirror behind the bar. Ah, the subtlety of social etiquette.

Then my friend decided to take a selfie on a chair at the back patio of one of the hotel rooms. Of course, just as she sat down, a group of wedding guests wandered over, and one of the ladies happened to be staying in the exact room where my friend was taking a selfie. She glanced at my friend. “That’s so weird,” she said. She laughed. Her whole group laughed. They cracked comments about my friend. The lady got up and walked over to her hotel room to shoo off my friends, who made hand motions like oh, okay, we understand. They all walked back. I swallowed a laugh. This whole thing was just getting absurd.

When the group joined our fire pit, they pretended to make small talk.

“So are you here for the wedding?” No.

“Well, why are you here? What’s there even to do here for a group of ladies like you on a Friday night in Palm Springs?” Oh, we’re just having a girls’ night out. They laughed about the “weird dead animals” at the Ace Hotel.

“Don’t you think it’s so weird?”

I piped up: “What? I’m from Portland and that stuff is everywhere. I love taxidermy and dead animals.” Then it just got awkward.

It’s fascinating to examine why we hold strangers to unspoken social codes, measure them against some unseen standard. Palm Springs as a whole is entirely laid-back; there are no nightclub dress codes, no uppity lounges. But a wedding bringing people from out-of-town had turned a laid-back hotel into a scene of posh airs. Suddenly, with a stink eye and condescending small talk, my group of friends and I were made to feel like we somehow didn’t fit in.

We were never going to see these guests again, but I felt a little sorry for them. Who could live in such a world of insecurity, where what you do and how you look matters at some old hotel? Afterwards, we brushed ourselves and shook it off. Well, what can you do, but laugh about it over a glass of wine? Because yeah, we probably were acting a bit weird.

We didn’t mind it one bit.

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