I’ve been living in Carmel for about two months now. It’s a nice town, perhaps a little rich, but there is something about it that gets under my skin. Something I despise — despite the nice people, safe streets, excellent restaurants, close-by shopping, and art emphasis. At first I thought it was seeing 16 year-old kids step out of $60,000 vehicles. I wonder what it does to a teenager to just hand them their first $60,000. For most people that’s two years of hard work, and I’m not talking about “chores.” You do those for your entire life without pay or thanks just because you would drown in filth if you didn’t. Some people call doing chores “responsible” — sure, maybe for a child, but for an adult they’re just part of being alive.
But I digress.
Then I thought the thing getting under my skin about Carmel, Indiana was the obsession with dogs. Everyone has a dog here and not just any dog. Everyone here has a little yappy dog that they treat like a child. This town supports two dog bakeries! The local Kroger’s has a “gourmet dog treats” aisle. Dogs don’t care. They barely taste, and they’ll lick up their own vomit without a second thought. I recently ran into a dog jewelry store. Now, dogs are very discerning about their diamonds I’m sure. After all, they’re extremely aesthetic creatures. I kid, of course, they roll in horse manure. That’s how a dog accessorizes. I think people around here need to take the time to let their dogs be dogs rather than buying them $30 treats and $10,000 collars. All this exists in walking distance of the Indianapolis slums. Talk about contrast.
But that’s not it either.
Then I thought it was the whitewashed facade of perfection. I suppose that’s more of a trust issue. Where some see statues and perfectly groomed lawns, I see things hiding. I wonder what’s behind the statue or buried in the yard. Perhaps a city can gleam and shimmer without having deadly secrets, but I’ll believe it when I see it. When there was a prostitution bust involving illegally trafficked women right across the street from a restaurant with professional valet service, I figured my fears had been found justified. I discovered Carmel’s problem. It makes the meth problems of my hometown seem kind of quaint compared to sexual slavery.
That — as bad as it is — isn’t what gets me about Carmel. That isn’t a unique problem in Carmel. In fact, Zionsville (the other rich Indianapolis suburb), was also involved in the bust. I’m sure there will be plenty of busts to come. I can’t call it the problem with Carmel because sex trafficking is a problem everywhere, not just in Carmel. Sure it’s most prevalent in uppermiddleclass suburbs in the midwest, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t going on all over the country. Perhaps it’s this evil (among others) that I hate about the United States. It isn’t what I hate about Carmel.
It’ll seem like such a minor issue after everything I just talked about, but what I hate most about Carmel is the sense of entitlement. It manifests everywhere, in how people treat one another, in how they drive. It’s a city of solipsists. Everyone here is convinced they’re the only real person — at least they’re convinced that they’re the only person that matters. A month ago a man got out of his car to yell at me for blocking his path. I told him to take it up with the four cars in front of me. I pulled forward and out enough for him to pull an illegal turn out of traffic, but what gets me is that traffic started moving about 30 seconds later and was back to speed in about 45 seconds. A man yelled at me to save 30 seconds. Yesterday a man in a Lexus honked at me for daring — DARING — to slow down as I approached a traffic circle. No, sir. I’m not pulling out in front of someone just so you can shave a few seconds off of your commute. Screw you for asking.
I wonder if he would have been as impatient with me if I were driving a Bugatti. I feel like respect is granted around here based on the expensiveness of the car. Seems like a pretty arbitrary way to assign value. The contents of the car seem more important to me, but what do I know? I’m not a Carmelite.