Rendered Fat Content


Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen: A Veteran of the Old Guard (1915)

"If I could just manage to hold onto those Golden Tickets …"

I imagine Success to be securely defended territory guarded 24/7 and then some by experienced and deadly serious Gatekeepers. These defenders of the status quo seem to know when something different approaches, and they have their game plan down pat to prevent each and any encroachment. Anyone wishing to enter those Elysian Fields must carry an invitation engraved with their personal information, issued by some duly designated authority. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, ever gains entrance by accident or solely by their own volition. Each must have gained and been given explicit permission, for access remains exclusively and forever By Invitation Only, no stragglers, gawkers, or mere do-gooders allowed. Success has always been and intends to remain an exclusive club.

At least, that's how I imagine Success. It's only distantly related to demonstrated ability or presumed capability; it chooses whom it chooses, exclusively for reasons which must forever remain mysterious.
The more talented might be denied access and left utterly without recourse. The Gatekeeper's impossible to second-guess. Nobody has any recourse. If you're handed one of those rare and sought-after GoldenTickets, do not, for cripes sake, lose it, for it might well represent the sole extent of your belonging. I have a long history of losing my golden tickets. I've received what might have been far more than my fair share of them, undoubtedly many more than the customary yet still rare ones, but I have managed to make nothing out of most of them, essentially, I suspect, due to my penchant for losing them.

Just last summer, I met a representative from what, upon research, proved to be an ethical vanity publisher, one not even dreaming of burgling my copyrights or delivering shite. I was not in the moment I met her entirely in the position to follow up with her, so I filed her contact information in a special place where I could reference it later. Returning after the dust settled, I could find no trace of my ever meeting that Gatekeeper. Email, of course, remains essentially a black hole, so I held little hope of finding any evidence of our exchanges there and didn't. Voicemail history, too, proved to be its usual mystery. Who knows how even to access that history? I don't. I spent a few frantic hours before finally accepting that I'd gone and lost another golden ticket. I've become quite experienced at it!

The barriers to entering anything, especially Success, seem to have been steadily expanding. The internet, which was touted as a leveling force, has, of course, greatly expanded former barriers. Where once one merely needed to surmount physical barricades, technological ones now stand, ones which retain an oppressive upper hand. They're inside jokes, malevolent Easter Eggs, and applications with deliberately secretive functions. Clowns with stupid smartphones become rich and temporarily famous for posting videos of their cousin making a fool of herself, while distinguished artists slowly starve in their unheated garrets. It was never any different. The Gatekeeper keeps the lid on it, preventing different from threatening the steady status quo. I know where Success stands, and it seems to know I'm here, threatening her sacred order. If I could just manage to hold onto those GoldenTickets, I might one day find myself motioned across that border.

©2023 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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