Cynicism. A withering of the heart through repeated, constant, undeserved criticism of genuine and meritorious effort? Well not desolation or abuse that’s for sure; those give rise to defeat, hatred, uncomplicated self-destruction by the slow degrees of personal deconstruction. No, cynicism has a sense of survival to it, vengeance even. It is veiled power, happy to bide its time, content to stalk its target until the moment and the words are most apposite. Cynicism is miserable nastiness out in a posh frock and allowed to mix with its targets.
Ah but bitching, that’s a much more entertaining option. Perhaps bitching is a sub-genre of cynicism as it’s sometimes a little difficult to distinguish between the two, although bitching tends to be the province of women and gay men whose articulacy and timing are generally exquisite. It has an added joyous malice and, it must be said, it’s also much less intellectually demanding and rather more immediate. Right now, for instance, the preening, mincing, Woolworths’ decorated MC of this provincial step-down club for failed trannies is heading for a major bitch assault from Prune-Ella, Queen of the Dessert. Well, you don’t tell a six foot draggette who’s pushing forty that her tantrum of menopausal proportions would benefit from a course of HRT without risking some sort of come back, do you? Quite. Over in the corner, Prunella de Ville is a slow cooker of seething rage in which an Oxfordian vocabulary garnished with burlesque ribaldry is heating up a suitable comeback. No-one in their right mind, or out of it for that matter, wants to miss this and crowds are gathering; flitting quietly in from the wings, materialising at tables in pre-show shadow, undulating with sinuous secrecy around the velveteen seats.
Of course Prune-Ella is all about performance and so a considerable amount of flouncing and huffing seems likely to outweigh the acidity of tongue essential to perfect bitching. Prune-Ella also fails in the detached vengeance department too. The most successful cynicism assault can leave the target feeling as though they have received a compliment, only realising later what has happened through painful post mortem or the careful explanation delivered by a friend in possession of a comfort blanket. Bitching though, relies on instantaneous reactivity; mouths must gape, the combatants’ righteous indignation must be hammed up, wound up and then iced over with pure liquid triumph, there must be audience participation with shifts of allegiance at each volley of excoriating ripostes.
Prune-Ella’s eyebrows have done their best to arch but, impeded by botox, they have settled into a mascara embellished corrugation above eyes blackened with arachnoid lashes and fury. She rises. The uninvited audience holds its breath. Our dick weed MC pauses on the edge of his brandy in hazy realisation.
Mighty heels that girl is wearing.
Prune-Ella delivers a cracking swipe across her target’s rug-rest, dislodging it and sending it spinning off under the fake brocade banquette. There are cries of ‘Call the RSPCA!’ and raucous hootings as people scrabble about on the floor in mock horror while dick weed gathers himself, wrings his drink out of his lapels, and brings his knee sharply upwards to connect with Prune-Ella’s not yet absent manhood. Glorious mayhem ensues.
Time then for a quick call to the local constabulary and the Argus. Nothing like a frock-fest fist-fight to bring out the leering lasciviati. Prune-Ella’s already setting up for round two and figuring out camera angles, and MC Dick Weed is applying emergency price rises to the drinks. Now that’s a good use of cynicism if ever I saw it!
©suzanne conboy-hill 2010