Tuesday, June 14, 2005


I just finished a great fun book, Book Ends, recommended to me by my sister-in-law. It was funny, sweet, dramatic toward the end, and an easy quick read. I love reading books like this in the summertime, when the days are longer and time goes a bit slower. Toward the end of the book, I was so desperate to know what was going to happen that I refused lunch with other people to hide for 40 minutes and read!

In the book, one of the characters scoffs at suburban life. He says that the new image of a suburb is an urban center, on the outskirts of the city, full of young marrieds with 2 children and an SUV. These little urban centers are full of shops and cafes, and cater to these young families and their growing wealth. He thinks that these young families don't want to believe that they live in the suburbs, so they have recreated this new notion of an urban town. It allows them to feel they live in the city, even though they don't.

The character's description struck a chord with me. I suppose I might live in such a town, even though it is very old and not really a new urban center. I chose to live here because I love the old houses, the mature shady trees, the great schools, the friendly neighborhoods. I also chose it because it is on the subway, I can have sushi or Thai or Indian delivered, there are tons of cafes and shops, there are festivals and fairs every weekend. I love feeling close to the city, but also feeling tremendously safe.

The other day, one of our summer associates told me that living in my town was like living in the Midwest. It was practically nowhere. Besides that fact that he clearly doesn't want an offer that badly, since he is insulting older associates, I surprised myself with how angry he made me. I came home and complained to my husband and inlaws and parents about how obnoxious and wrong the comment was.

After reading Book End's character's description of suburban life, I was reminded of the mommy drive-bys so many bloggers mention. After my defensiveness about my town (it is really a small city, but I won't split hairs), I started wondering why I cared? I also wondered why people put each other down so much. Whether I agree or disagree with the description above, what would be wrong with a town that catered to young married couples and families? What is wrong with a new notion of suburbia consisting of an urban center on the outskirts of a city? Why do people insist on putting down other people in an effort to pump themselves up? I could care less where other people live, and it wouldn't occur to me to tell someone who lives downtown about my friend whose apartment was broken into while she slept inside alone, or to tell someone who lives an hour and a half away from Boston that I would gouge my eye out if my commute were that long. I wouldn't say any of those things, because it would be rude and unnecessary. I can see merits in whatever choice you make.

I have found myself becoming outraged at the mommy drive-bys other people describe, but I think the problem is really drive-bys in general. Whether it is about the town you live in, the person you married, the car you drive, or your hobbies, people should think twice before putting down those around them.

Play nice people, just play nice.


Phantom Scribbler said...

We used to run into that attitude at parties all the time, usually from people who wanted to be sure we knew that Cambridge or JP were the only real places to live...

sarcastic journalist said...

I think that some people can't realize that everyone is different. We all have different tastes. I think these people, especially the mommy drive-byers, feel they have to put others down to feel better about themselves. Re: Where you live? Man, it sounds like fun. I'll come.