Are You a Good Bitch or a Bad Bitch?

Now, in my native Palm Beach, among a certain noveau gauche demographic it’s considered socially desirable to be a nasty bitch.  But insulting others because of their supposed inferior social status, clothing, possessions, looks, etc. is not something people of quality do.

Since, well, forever, plenty of people have tried to intimidate women into submission by calling them bitches anytime they  fail to do what someone else wants them to do.   But I’m different.  I openly admit to being a bitch.   (I suppose I could say a good Palm Bitch, to borrow a phrase from I forget who.)  Instead of being shushed, embrace your inner bitch and use her/him to do good in the world.  Be a good bitch.

For example:  There used to be redneck bully who drove around on another oceanfront  island, in a big loud truck, and picked on people.  He didn’t live there though.  Emblazoned on his truck was the logo “Steel Cowboy, Man or Truck for Hire”.  He was a bad bitch.

He got into it once with a friend of mine who told him he was trespassing and threatened to have the “cowboy” arrested.  The putative metallic man got in my buddy’s face and started threatening him.  When I spoke up then I was threatened too.  Steel Cowboy snarled at me, “I’ll prosecute you with a bullet”.   I believed him too!  Then he got out of his truck with a running electric saw plugged into a generator on his truck, while I was trying to drag my, by now foaming-at-the-mouth- with-alpha male-rage, buddy away.

I was sure my buddy and I were gonna be cut up, the pieces thrown into the pond and no one would ever know what happened to us.  Jeez, it was scary.  (This was on a secluded beachfront parcel of land which included a deep blackwater pond, all screened from sight of the road by thick mangroves.)

But another buddy of mine–who is a good bitch–brought Steel Cowboy low in a single comment.  Of course I’d told my friend what happened.  When he went to the local gas station and saw Steel Cowboy’s truck parked nearby he said archly to the mechanic “Steel Cowboy?  Man for hire?  Is he a male prostitute?  I had no idea they advertised on their vehicles.”  Of course the remark was mirthfully repeated endlessly.  Everyone in the neighborhood used the same gas station and it got back to Steel Cowboy.  Soon he disappeared from our neighborhood for good, laughed right outa town by the locals.

This same friend had an alcoholic mother who’d abandoned her family when he was very young.  After his dad died, the mom, who’d been divorced for decades, sued, trying to get a share of the substantial estate.  At a hearing, when my buddy was on the stand, the mother’s attorney said that it seemed as though the kids were ganging up on mom to try and keep her from her well deserved share of the estate.  My friend, in the best bitchy manner ever,  blinked slowly and said, dripping with contempt, “I don’t even remember meeting her until I was in my late teens and that was only after she shot her second husband.  What can I say?”.    End of conversation.  That’s a good bitch!  And a funny one.

When I was building affordable housing for the poorest of the poor–migrant farmworkers–in one of the poorest rural areas in the USA, I got dragged into a project for which I was not supposed to be responsible.  Someone ratted the general contractor out because he was using below grade wood for the exterior wall studs–wood that was suitable only for shelving and the like–to hold up buildings in a hurricane zone!  A structural engineer said the buildings would collapse in a heartbeat.  So I hired a lumber grader to grade every single stud, joist, and piece of wood either installed or on the job site.

As a result the county condemned a community building, which had to be torn down before it was even completed.  (Oooh was that GC mad!)

There was some federal money involved too, so I tracked down the person who processed the monthly draws for it, a young Hispanic woman in California.  When told of the problems she said she’d be extra vigilant to make sure the GC’s  draw paperwork was always in order.  ( I may have mentioned that many of my clients were very, very poor Hispanics, all of whom had jobs and worked hard.)

Of course builders hate paperwork and are generally pretty sloppy about filling it all out properly.   So all of the GC’s draws got kicked back at least once–and they couldn’t be re-submitted until the next month.  One time this helpful young woman sent a draw packet back, unapproved, because a federal form wasn’t exactly right.  On the form each day of the week was next to a box to be checked (or not).  Each box had the letter of the alphabet denoting the day of the week–S, M, T, W, T, F, S.  The GC changed the “T” for Thursday to “Th”.  The draw was sent back because he’d “altered a federal form”.  (We bitches howled with laughter over that one!)  By the time the draw reviewer was done the builder had spent nearly a million bucks for which he did not get paid for quite awhile.

It was discovered that the plans and specs were so inferior that, even if the buildings were constructed according to contractual specs, they would still be dangerously unable to withstand even a small tropical storm.  (This was when there hadn’t been a hurricane in Florida in 40 years, so everyone thought I was being way, way too bitchy for insisting on hurricane resistant construction.)  The mantra was, “what the hell it’s better than what those people are used to”.  (“Those people“–all of whom I knew–being the hard-working low income families, including children, who would occupy the structures.)  My response was “Well it’s not what I’m used to!  You’ll build every single structure  to the same standards as any guest cottage on a Palm Beach estate.”

There was even a stop work order in place, despite the builder showing up at the county building department with a phalanx of expensive lawyers to try and bully them into lifting it.   Supposedly there was a meeting of county officials where they were discussing what might happen if the GC carried out his threats and sued the county.  One official supposedly said–in response to the suggestion that they didn’t want to have to defend against the GC–“I don’t care what anybody says, you do not want to make that bitch mad!”

When there was a big meeting about it all and the GC was trying to dismiss my opinions because I was just a woman and wasn’t a builder per se,  I sneered condescendingly at him and snapped  “Listen up.  There is no one on the planet who can out-shop a Palm Beach woman.  And that’s all development is.  Shopping! ”  That was a favorite good bitch moment.

So then a faux campaign was mounted, to get the GC to tear down all the other structures he was working on, knowing he’d do the opposite of what I wanted.  As anticipated, the more I wailed and moaned about how the buildings had to come down, the more structural reinforcement the GC added.  He pulled out nearly every stick of wood that had already been installed, threw away what was onsite,  replaced it all and added  numerous reinforcing features.  This was a windfall for the poorest-of-the-poor neighbors, who grabbed the thrown away wood, which they couldn’t have afforded, and used it for all sorts of repairs, embellishments and carpentry projects on their own homes.

The four hurricanes of 2004 and Wilma in 2005 all made a direct hit on those buildings.  After each storm I drove out to the ‘Glades area to see how they’d fared.  Not one sustained any hurricane damage, except for where a big tree did fall on one and left a bit of roof damage.  The rest of the neighborhood looked like a war zone in the Middle East.  Buildings were down, or blown completely away, or otherwise uninhabitable.   My buildings were about the only ones in that neighborhood left undamaged.  The families in those sturdy little buildings were safe and dry, they still had their stuff, and they weren’t subjected to looting.

Although I don’t have ruby slippers,  I like to think I’m a good bitch.   (I do have red sneakers though.)

Don’t waste your time being just a bitchy bitch or a useless bitch.  Forget whether someone has a Bulgari or a Timex watch, a K-Mart or a Coach purse, a  Ferragamo or a Kohl’s wallet.  It demeans you, not those targeted by your bitchiness and diminishes you in the eyes of people of quality.   Instead, embrace your inner bitch and use it–preferably amusingly–for good.





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