Alice’s lawyer then pulled the incredible move of offering Alice’s exposed body as evidence that her quadroon blood couldn’t be hidden. She was escorted into the bathroom where she removed all but her underwear and then slipped on a long coat. She began to weep. In one of the most outrageous courtroom scenes in American history, she was paraded into a closed room where judge and jury awaited her and told to show her legs up to the thigh. To prove it was impossible to mask her race, the color of Alice Jones Rhinelander’s nipples was examined by judge and jury as evidence of her blackness. She was told to remove the coat and show her nude body from the waist up. She did, and she wept. Finally, the ordeal complete, she was excused and she broke into an uncontrollable sob. Her mother helped her get dressed and physically supported her as they left the courthouse. The jury had seen enough.
You could call summers like this a colossal waste of time. But that’s what feels immortal about them—wasting time, colossally, as the gods must do.
I’ve often thought of my experience of adulthood thus far as one of incrementally discovering that there’s no institution, or walk of life, in which everybody isn’t just winging it. Growing up, I assumed that the newspaper on the breakfast table must be assembled by people who truly knew what they were doing; then I got a job at a newspaper. Unconsciously, I transferred my assumptions of competence to (among others) people who worked in government. Then I got to know a few people who did – and who’d admit, after a pint or two, that their jobs involved staggering from crisis to crisis, concocting credible-sounding policies in cars en route to press conferences, exactly as portrayed in The Thick of It.
And even then I found myself assuming, self-hatingly, that this might be explained by a certain bumbling Britishness, the perverse pride we sometimes take in shambling mediocrity. Then I started working in America. Where, it turns out, everyone is totally just winging it.
This realisation is alarming at first, but it’s ultimately deeply reassuring.
Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend! We recorded this pilot many internet moons ago over too much wine but we hope you enjoy it. We’ll be on a #relevant internet schedule very soon.On the agenda: Special IRL circumstances, smug Californians, the Obamacare struggle is real, menstruation clickbait, Beyonce’s influence, and drunk online shopping. Plus: What’s in a name?
My bestie Ann and I launched a podcast!