Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Monday, October 07, 2002

Christine and Ron Move to Michigan

9:42 a.m. - 2002-10-07

Well, pinch me, I must be dreaming because we now have cable and high-speed Internet. So now I don't have to trudge down to the Ann Arbor library every time I want to check email, which has changed my life.

I'm trying hard not to be mesmorized by my new cable TV. Fortunately we mostly get the loser channels: Oxygen, Court TV, etc. My new vice is the Style channel, where perfect young women run around and assemble outfits for less than $100. Then they presumably take the clothing home and stuff the pieces down the garbage disposal.

One style maven raided the little girl's section at Target, emerging with a weird pink-and-purple shirt. She turned it inside out, jaggedly cut the edges, cut a big hole in the chest and bravely declared that yes, she really would go to an L.A. club in it. Yeah, sure.

We're settling in here fairly well. The new ad director, M., at Ron's startup has arrived with his wife (he worked at WorldCom in SF, small world). M. is a big guy and he likes everything big: they brought over a big SUV from SF, they just bought a big, big house 50 miles from Ann Arbor, and last week they got themselves a big 20-pound, bull mastiff puppy. They certainly have a firmer grip on the Midwest American dream than we do; you wouldn't believe the flak we're getting for buying a VW beetle.

That's one big side effect of moving to your home state of course, close family and friends think nothing of questioning every choice you make. My latest bitchy comeback is "It's not up for discussion." My other -- more craven -- defense is not to tell anyone what we're doing until we've already done it. I swear, if we decide to have a kid, I'm not telling anyone until after it's born. Maybe not even then. We'll hide it in the closet when folks come over.

Second big side effect: Kids' birthday parties. We've arrived in prime birthday party season. This used to
happen in my family. My aunts and uncles threw a birthday party for every damn kid every year. Nice in theory, but I had about a dozen cousins and most were born between September and December.

This meant that every other Saturday night there was a party, and all the Usual Suspects (aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents) turned up with presents and eat cake. Then the men would watch TV and the women would sit around the table and listen to my Aunt O. talk about her sons' evil teachers. I was an early rebel regarding these affairs (we were across the state in Detroit, thank god). When I was in college and then in my 20s, I'd make a token appearance, generally bringing a date and leaving by 8:30. Oh, the guilt. When my youngest cousin turned 16 (the official end of the birthday party for each child), it was one of the happiest days of my life.

I thought those days were over, but now all my friends and family are throwing big birthday parties for all their kids. The modern mother brings some new twists to these celebrations. Before you tossed up some streamers, laid on the cake and ice cream and called it a day. No more. Now kids' birthday parties have THEMES -- usually some commercial kids' character. My sister's kid's theme is Sponge Bob Square Pants (don't ask) and my friend L.'s kid will celebrate her birthday this month with Scooby Doo.

And get this, now kids REGISTER for their birthday gifts. Really! L.'s daughter is registered at Toys R Us. What is she trying to do, complete her china pattern? If you think I'm schlepping over to Toys R Us and getting a printout of everything a sugar-crazed 4-year-old pointed at with her electronic registering gun, you're nuts. She's getting a couple of books.


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