On Jan. 24, 1848, a carpenter from New Jersey happened upon flakes of gold in the American River at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Coloma, Calif. Of his discovery, James Marshall said, "It made my heart thump, for I was certain it was gold."
Ever since, hearts have set to thumping at the prospect of gold. Thumpity, thump. But gold diggin's just not what it used to be.
The miners of yesteryear had two things in common: They were dudes chasing dollars. Gold-digging dudes, the whole hairy, dirty lot of them. God bless them for their greed, and God bless America.
But from the history books to the gossip rags, so went the gold diggers. Ever since the end of the Gold Rush back in 1858, the reputation of these great risk-takers has been on the decline.
It mystifies. It really does.
Today's gold digger is every bit as greedy and opportunistic, but without all the grit and grime. Typically smooth-shaven and laughably young compared with the person footing their bills, the contemporary gold digger is cleaner, sexier and arguably more intelligent than those early diggers. Instead of risking life and limb fumbling around in the Earth's dark innards, 21st-century gold diggers work smarter — or not at all.
Generally speaking, modern gold diggers lack two things compared to their predecessors: a penis (or so the stereotype goes) and verifiable employment. They instead prefer to dabble in the world of hyphenates: model-actress, singer-dancer, painter-sculptor, writer-plasma donor.
But regardless of her title and no matter how cute her business cards, today's gold digger gets nothing but bad press for her gold-digging ways. What was once an almost heroic designation now inspires finger-wagging condemnation. Must one dance with death in the quest for money for greed to take a respectable air? Is it the sex? Listen up, Puritans, gold diggers gotta eat, too.
Why are we so hard on our gold diggers — and so easy on those who bait them? That's right: who bait them. Octogenarians in expensive suits and Rolex watches aren't trolling the club scene hoping to meet DJ Pauly D.
Why is it horrifying when a woman capitalizes on her assets when those assets are a tight ass and perky tits, but admirable when a man capitalizes on his in the form of dollars — even if he gained them by theft, fraud or simply inheritance? Why do we care so much whether these well-heeled odd couples really, truly "enjoy each other's company" or "have anything in common"? He gets a grossly inflated false sense of desirability and virility; she gets a Ferrari. Tit for tat.
So why does he hear, at most, a teasing "sugar daddy," while she gets bludgeoned? Gold digger! Whore! Strumpet!
Why so much hate for the diggers?
If you prick a gold digger, does she not bleed? If you tickle one, does she not laugh? And if you wrong a gold digger, shall she not revenge? Hmm, Donald Sterling?
Does her heart, like young Marshall's, not thump at the prospect of gold? Thumpity, thump. From there, it's such a teeny-tiny trip to humpity, hump.
The truth is, there's nothing sexy about the truth. Gold diggers provide a service — and not just to the old timers whose arms they dangle from. They also pour sunshine on the fact that we all have a little hooker in us. Maybe that's why we lash out at them. We've all traded something we have for something we want. It's just that most of us don't get our own private pied-a-terre for taking off our clothes. Most of us are cursed with an inherent discomfort with that exchange or simply don't possess the goods. Damn hussies.
The only thing more perplexing than why our nation's gold diggers get such a bad rap is how on Earth apple pie became representative of all things American. I've never had much of an appetite for the stuff, so I hereby nominate the diggers. Those hot little nuggets are as all-American as the loot they hunt.
Follow Jessica on Twitter @sicaleigh. To find out more about Jessica Leigh, and to read features by other Creators writers and comics, visit the Creators website at www.creators.com.
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