There's a friend of mine... let's call him Laksa Lim. Let's not get all melodramatic with wailing violins but he's this sweet, intelligent scion of enterprising hawker parents who's currently contemplating seeing a wealthy mogul's son. Simple enough, you'd think.
Lim : I don't know if it's gonna be a problem.
Paul : You have got to be kidding, right? It's the 21st Century, not the 18th.
Lim : He's a rich man's son and I'm ...
Paul : A great guy?
Lim : Hawker's son lah.
Paul : Seriously? You're not pulling my leg? Does that really matter?
Lim : It might!
Paul : If it does, dump him.
Honestly I swear I didn't take this sadly cliched plot from a Hindi-Tamil tearjerker.
In ancient times, a strict distinction between the social classes kept the disreputable riff-raff and rabble away from the hallowed doors of their social betters. For example my wicked aristo alter-ego of my past ( possibly murdered out of hand for his/her iniquities ) certainly wouldn't have deigned to spare a glance at some lowly menial of the working class, much less speak to them. Of course if they be comely, sordid, base dalliances would be quite acceptable behind closed doors but by morning, the unfortunate peon should have been summarily dismissed and swept out the backdoors.
Is it any wonder that more than a few lost their pretty little powdered heads at the hands of the bloodthirsty Madame Guillotine? Not only the haughty Europeans but even the practical Chinese had their own hierarchies once upon a time before the impetuous Red Guards marched in to dismantle the rapidly crumbling social structure, erect distasteful monuments on demolished temples and summarily adopt the most hideously bland mono-toned uniforms.
But in the current liberal, free-wheeling, laissez-faire world of today, does social status and class really matter? How would you actually place someone and how do we define class? Who actually gets into the upper rungs of society nowadays? The ubiquitous Paris Hilton, her pampered lap dog and the like?
Should we dump Mr Right ( come on, Mr Perfect would just drive me insane with his perfection! ) just because he doesn't 'belong' in our social milieu? Like, if he eats with the wrong fork, we toss him out of the dining room without further ado? If he wears cheap denim and a tanktop on black tie night, we strip him... okay, that's not what I was going to say... we turn our backs and utterly refuse to acknowledge him? If his parents are honest working class folks, we hastily transfer to another state, change our names and vociferously deny parentage?
Or from the other side of the looking glass, even if he was the son of some sinfully wealthy Arabian oil sheikh, so what?
Certainly not descended from a distinguished line of kings myself and honestly it doesn't really matter - apart from the sadly materialistic fact that I'd love to have castles, crown jewels and comely courtiers. Come from what I assume is strong, hardy peasant stock on my dad's side ( really, all of them are strapping dudes who look as if they could carry a buffalo with one paw and rake the fields with the other ) and possibly scheming, wicked misadventurers on my mom's side ( the whole deal... pirates, opium dealers and such ), and hell, I'm proud of it. :P
Always found it odd that we maintain such pointless pomp and circumstance for folks fortunate enough to have ancestors bloodthirsty and ruthless enough to hang on to a throne or to those lucky enough to fall into the lap of luxury. Class and protocol be damned, I'd stare down the Queen of Sheba herself ( though I'd ask her where to get the cheapest Eastern carpets! ) so does it matter what family my boyfriend comes from?
Seriously. Does class matter that much?