Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I’m just getting the glass replaced, I remind myself as I make my way through the crowd of aroused techno-files who view computers like porn, they can’t get enough. I wish I could blame my two year old for the shattered iphone in my hand, but I can’t. I’m the clumsy culprit and I know it will cost me. That’s why I’m only here to replace the glass.

“How can I help you?he asks. His sincerity is disarming in a room full of kids so bright, they could hack NASA.

I cracked my glass, I confess not really wanting to display the evidence.

“You know,” he says…

I nod, knowing exactly what he’s going to say.

“It costs the same to buy a new one as it does to replace the glass,” we say in unison. He smiles. I smile. He shuffles his sneakers back and forth. I pause, noting for the first time since meeting him 120 seconds ago, how the light casts a beautiful shadow across his acne. He pushes his tousled hair off his untweezed brow and looks directly into my soul..eyes., “Don’t worry. I’ll hook you up.” I look at his name tag. It’s on upside down. Thanks werdnA, I say. He looks down, laughs, and asks my name. htidereM, I tell him, wondering if he’ll get the joke. He laughs casually, turns to a passing colleague and says, “She’s funny.” He looks directly at me. “You’re funny.” I know, I whisper longingly as he disappears into the stockroom.

I miss him immediately.

A few minutes later, Andrew returns, gadgets in hand. He looks around the store, notes an empty computer station and nods me over. There’s only one stool. He offers it my way, scoots another over and tells me I just need to pick which new iphone I’d like. I figured I’d just get the same one I had before. “Oh, you mean the old version?” Andrew asks. Mature, I correct. He tells me I could get it, but why not get something newer, with more features? Newer, I think to myself. Newer is good.

He runs down the numbers. 200 to replace the glass. 200 to get a new old iphone. Or 300 to get the new version, “It has video,” Andrew encourages. Who am I, Speilberg? I say with a not subtle hint of sarcasm. Andrew laughs, muttering “Speilberg. Good one.” And then he asks what I do for work.

I’m a writer, I say non-chalant.

“Well, if you’re writing is as funny as you are in person, you must be really successful.”

I’ll take the $300 one, I say, half shouting.

He starts clicking information into the store’s computer asking for passwords, mother’s maiden name, birthdate, along the way. March, I offer intentionally leaving out more. “March what?” Andrew types. 7. I was born on March 7. “Dude, I’m the 3rd! We’re like almost born on the same day!” I tell him March 3rd is a good day, not confessing that March 3rd is also my husband’s birthday. I wouldn’t want Andrew to feel like his day wasn’t special.

He keeps typing, telling me that he’s setting up my new new iphone. “It’ll work when you leave the store.” I ask for clarification. It’ll work like I can use it? No manual? No call to help desk? “I told you I’d hook you up.” I relax on my stool, noting the way my Mac Pro’s fingers dance across the keyboard as he hooks me up.

“I.D., please.”

I hand my license over, wondering if he’ll note the year of my March birthday. He doesn’t. He keeps typing, asking me what kind of writing I do. Movies..and stuff. “Wow. I tried to write a script, but it’s so hard to focus on one thing for a long time.” He’s right. It is. “Plus, everybody my age thinks they can write. I’m more interested in creating TV shows.” I immediately want to help him. This kid’s a gem. He should make it in Hollywood. Not another Harvard educated douche who drops the word “Harvard” into any sentence possible. “My Dad runs tv stations in Northern California,” he confesses when I ask how he got the bug.

Northern California, that’s my neck of the woods.

“Really? That’s why you’re so cool. People from Nor Cal are supremely cool.”

Yeah. We’re cool.

We stop talking for a moment. I look down at my shiny new iphone, with video and intact glass. It's plugged into the store's computer.

“I’m just transferring your info. So you don’t have to do it at home.” Andrew tells me.


We sit in silence. After a minute or two, my new iphone ejaculates a computerized chirp. Andrew tells me it’s all set up. It works now.


Neither of us moves. Andrew turns to me, “Can I show you something?”


“It’s a new feature. If you sign up for it, anytime you put something into your iphone, it’ll upload to your computer. And vice versa. Here, I’ll show you mine.”

He opens a new window, clicks in his password, and opens his mobile world to me noting that I too could have my own webpage, mobile upload software, and email address. I could even lock my phone remotely should I misplace it. He shows me photos he and his friend took of a cat sleeping and let’s me see the photo he just received from his Dad, on his way to the Olympics, a perk that comes with owning two TV stations. I don’t need any of the features. He then reminds me that I could also get an email address with the new mobile software. I ask him how much. I do the math in my head. I’ve had the same earthlink email address for ten years. Despite free services like hotmail and gmail, I’ve paid for mine to avoid transferring to a new address. But if I could connect my phone to my computer without a cord and have an email address for less than the cost of my previous email address, I’d be a fool to pass on this new offer.

I’ll take it. Andrew starts clicking and instantly, my worlds are connected.

It’s time to say goodbye. I don’t want to, but I’ve been in the store for 2 ½ hours. My blood sugar is dropping.

I gather my belongings, my new iphone in hand. Andrew stands, both of us not sure whether to hug or shake hands. We don’t do either, not wanting to spoil the moment. I leave with a simple, Thank you werdnA.

He half-smiles his chapped lips,“Come back soon, htidereM.” But we both know I won’t. Andrew also sold me an iphone cover so I don’t break the glass again. He’s met all my needs.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I’m sitting in an uncomfortable wood chair, in the “Quiet Section” of the Beverly Hills library.  The quiet section is reminiscent of the “non smoking section” of my 1985 flight from San Francisco to Israel, one row behind the smoking section. The Quiet Section of the Beverly Hills library is neither quiet nor a section.

My son, nearly 2, is obsessed with tank tops.  For a while it was washcloths, then toothbrushes, to fire trucks, toy trains, and now here we are at tank tops. Grey ones to be exact. In sunny LA a tank top wearing toddler is considered hip, not a candidate for “Mr. Fire Island.” But since he only has one grey one, there’s a chance someone’s going to call Social Services, whom I’m fairly certain already has me on speed dial, to complain about the hip, but filthy toddler.

 Yesterday, we had a thirty-minute showdown; me determined not to be screamed into dirty tank top submission.  We Camp David’d and settled on a green swim shirt. He insisted on wearing it for his bath. I insisted a soaking wet shirt was not appropriate sleep attire. He screamed for thirty minutes, then rubbed his eyes and said, “Sleepy.” I concurred. We both went to bed.

Needless to say, working from home, a home filled with a child, is not an option.  My nanny arrives at 8. I’m so happy, I nearly make out with her. I’m out the door by 8:10 and head to the library in hopes of finding a plug, wireless access, and a quiet, childfree area in which to work.  I find the Quiet Section. I set up my computer and related junk. I get to work.

 Two hours pass before the 80’s rap star Tone-Loc starts yelling in the middle of the library Sure, there’s the chance that the screaming baritone is merely a Tone-Loc doppelganger, but for the sake of visualization, we’ll assume it’s him.

What do you mean I need a card to make photocopies? Why can’t I just use money?

  Sir, the photocopiers only take pre-paid copy cards. You may purchase one downstairs with your credit card.

 But what if I don’t want to? Why can’t I make a copy?  This is whack! What happened to the old fashioned way?  I need to make a copy.

 It appears that Tone doesn’t have a credit card and therefore can’t make a copy.  He goes table to table asking anyone who will make eye contact with him (one guy), if he can borrow someone’s credit card. He’ll be glad to pay them back, but he needs to borrow a credit card.  No one volunteers. He starts screaming again.

 Oh now that is whack! Ain’t no one gonna help me out? Noooooobody has a credit card?

 Again, no one volunteers.  I consider it.  Maybe we can do a swap. My low limit Visa in exchange for an A Capella rendition of “Funky Cole Medina.” But Tone’s in no mood for requests, I keep it to myself.

Well that is truly whack! I’m out!

The term “Out” as in, “I’m out of here” is affective only in the company of people who care if you leave.  In a room full of law students, high school kids, and screenwriters escaping their children, no one gives a shit if you’re “In” or “Out.” And shouldn’t the term, “Out” only be used by celebrities?  Jay Z or at least a trying too hard Ryan Seacrest can pull off a catch phrase like, “Out!” Someone might care. But a doppelganger of an 80’s icon best remembered for passing out at a Laker Game under questionable circumstances should in now way abbreviate his exit. 

Again, Tone is not in the mood for suggestions. I keep it to myself.

 Ten minutes later, a cell phone rings.  It’s set to Level 4 (out of 4). The ring tone plays “American Booty,” the Pete Tong Remix of the “American Beauty” theme song.  The high-waisted Russian man who wears his belt like a bra belongs to the cell phone. I stare the phone down.  I wait for it to stop playing a song that is best enjoyed with a bloodstream full of ecstasy in a Miami nightclub, sure that Yakov Smirnoff is going to apologize and turn the phone off. Instead he answers, full voice, full conversation.

HHHHElllo….Da…NYET…DADA!…..Hokay.  Cwall me beck!!!!!!

 I expect some sort of apology of eye contact when Yakov hangs up. Instead, he dials another call. Full voice. Full conversation.

 A law student and I exchange a knowing glance.

What the fuck? his eyes beckon.

Outrageous! I shrug.

The law student’s phone buzzes. It’s set to “Vibrate.” It buzzes across the table like a cockroach on cocaine.  He smiles at me, picks it up, and starts clicking away on the keyboard, undoubtedly answering an urgent text from a fellow law student in a torte dilemma.  He clicks away on his tiny keyboard for the next hour, in a never-ending spin cycle of text messages.  I’m left to wonder, if his phone is set to “silent”, why do I have to hear it?

Yakov’s phone rings again.  This time, the librarian comes over.  “I’m sorry,” she says. “But this is a quiet area. NO CELL PHONES ALLOWED.”  He finishes his call, hangs up, and dials another.  The librarian takes a lunch break.

There’s a high school girl sitting back to back with me. The place is jammed with high school kids prepping for finals. The modern American high school student seems to spend most of their time text’ing the person sitting next to them or checking Facebook updates to see which of their 220 friends had a successful bowel movement.

Her phone rings. Her ring tone plays a computerized version of Gwen Stefani’s, “Hollenback Girl.”  She answers. She talks. And talks. And talks. I grind my teeth. I try to stay focused. I turn on my ipod except the music is distracting me from hearing the few bright things my brain has left to say. I bite the bullet. I turn around.

Pardon me, I say with extra sugar. Would you mind  talking on the phone somewhere else? Somewhere that isn’t say… a library? 

The high school girl keeps talking, explaining to her caller that there is a “Cunt” sitting behind her, “Making” her get off the phone. 

I wouldn’t mind her calling me a cunt, I’d just wish she’d do it quietly.

She hangs up and packs up her things. We’re still back-to-back, but I can hear her slamming her Trapper Keeper into her book bag, slamming her chair toward the table, slamming her phone into the palm of her hand.  I’ll admit it; it’s tense. I’m keenly aware that sitting with my back  to a rich kid who thinks she’s in an episode of  “Oz” means I stand a good chance of getting shanked in the back.  Instead….


I consider the appropriate response.  Sure, I could tell her that my sons’ age is higher than her IQ, then I could explain to her what IQ means.  I could ask her why all she and her high school aged friends dress like hookers before I ask her which MAC shade she’s wearing on her eyes. Or I could just pack up my shit and find a new place to sit which is what I do because the only person being quiet in the quiet section is the homeless guy sleeping  off his cheap dime bag high he bought with a pre-paid copy card.

Out I mutter under my breath.

I pack up and move on in search of quieter pastures.  I look around the library. There’s few empty seats. There’s one next to the guy who likes to masturbate in the periodicals. I pass.  And one next to woman who hasn’t bathed in my son’s lifetime.  I keep looking. I find one available seat.  It’s in the children’s section.  It’s quiet, the only noise of a Mother reading to her child, the child asking her to read that page again.  There are no cell phones and no Blackberry’s buzzing.  There are only people doing what you’re suppose to be doing in a library, reading.  I may have come to the library to escape children and now find myself surrounded by them, but there’s a seat, a plug, and wireless. I take it.




Tuesday, December 9, 2008


My nanny is supposed to be at work in an hour. Anytime the phone rings within an hour of an employee’s designated arrival time, I brace myself for the inevitable “Dog ate my homework” excuse for why they can’t work. I pick up the phone already canceling my plans in my head.

Instead of my French nanny’s voice, I hear a computerized voice akin to a serial killer. It’s the only voice I’ve ever heard with less charm than hers

“You…have…a…cell…to…land…line…text…coming, please…hold.”

I do.

The computerize voice then recites the text:

“Getting on a flight to Paris. Death in the family. Not my fault.”

As they say in French, c’est tout. That’s it. Three lines, 13 words, no class. You see I would feel badly if Frenchie had lost a family member, if she actually lost a family member. But young Frenchie made a Cardinal mistake, just days before, leaving a note to herself to book an Air France ticket on her parents’ miles. Either Frenchie is incredibly psychic or Frenchie’s got some explaining to do. Possibly she can text me the real story, since this one is bullshit.

Every time I get a text, I feel like I’m fifteen. Maybe that’s because texts should really only be sent by fifteen year olds. When I was a teen, I spent hours of my after school time on the phone with the same people I had just seen all day. We’d watch “Days of Our Lives” and eat Doritos, each at our own house, connected by the widespread grasp of Ma Bell. Now, fifteen year-olds spend hours on their Sidekicks or Iphones, texting back and forth, talking about nothing. Each text is stream of consciousness, diarrhea of the brain, meant to be read, responded to and deleted immediately. But that’s what you do when you’re fifteen: waste time and talk about it.

Not when you’re a grown up, with a job, being depended on. Possibly leaving the country on a moment’s notice might warrant a bit more communication than 13 impersonal words. Of course that’s probably why she sent a text, no communication.

I’ve tried to think back on where I may have gone wrong. Sure, part of this was my fault. I hired a French nanny, after all. I’m lucky she didn’t send a text that read: “I surrender.”

With every hiring and the inevitable un-hiring, I’m left picking up the pieces, wondering what I did wrong. Then I’ll talk to a friend or two, each with similar stories, each reminding me there are just a lot of crazy people in the world. Hiring a nanny is a tricky thing. Moms are supposed to thank the nanny profusely for achieving the simple task of doing her job. We’re supposed to treat a nanny like family, but she’s not expected to do so in return. We’re expected to pay on time, give healthy Christmas bonuses, but have no recourse when a nanny decides Paris beckons.

Somewhere out there is a reliable employee. Ideally she will have good English, a reliable car, and good references. But most important, hopefully she’ll have no cell phone. That way when she quits, she’ll at least have to tell me in person.

I’m sure I’ll hear from Frenchie. Undoubtedly, she’ll return in a month of two from her existential crisis in Paris, realize that it’s hard to live without an income, and will have assumed I kept her job for her. She’ll send a text:

“Back from funeral. Can work tomorrow.”

I’ll spend some time thinking of how to respond, knowing there is only one response. But unfortunately, I can’t remember how to say it in French. If only I’d paid better attention in 7th grade, I’d be able to remember how to text; “Go fuck yourself.” But since I don’t, I’ll settle for the alternative.

“Merci, mais non merci.”

Thanks but no thanks.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


If you were to look at my Facebook page, you would see that I have a lot of friends, over one hundred to be exact. According to the Internet, I’m connected, maybe even popular. When I first joined Facebook, on a lark sparked by curiosity, my only “friends” were people I already spoke to all the time. But with time, I found old friends to whom I hadn’t spoken in years, long lost high school or college buds all of whom I liked, but apparently not enough to stay in touch with over the years. Our lives had taken different paths, we’d gone our own ways, but are now re-united under the intimate umbrella of the world wide net.

It’s been nice to get back in touch, find out what happened to each, how life turned out. Most people’s stories seem to be the same; exploration in the form of humiliation in their 20’s, a desire to “get it together” in their early 30’s, followed by the inevitable spouse, house, and child in the early to mid to late 30’s, which brings us to now.

A few singles are hanging on, men and women alike assuring anyone who asks that they’re really, really happy with their life but if you happen to know anyone to set them up with, they’d be even really, really happier. A few marrieds are hanging on, assuring anyone who asks that they’re really, really happy with their life, but if you happen to know a good divorce attorney they’d be even really, really happier. The ones with newborns haven’t slept, the ones with toddlers haven’t sat down and the one’s whose kids are hitting double digits long for an infant or toddler, apparently tired of all the sleeping and sitting one does when their kids aren’t quite so needy. And most people seem to like their job until you ask them if they like their job, the question receiving a unanimous, no-recount on this vote needed, “No.” But still, they’re really, really happy.

The chances that I will actually see in person most of my over one hundred friends is slim to none. I barely see my friends who live five minutes from me much less the ones I haven’t seen in years. We’ll be cyber friends forever, but we’ll probably never speak to or see one another again. But I know everything about them, or at least what they put on their Facebook profile. I know what one friend had for breakfast, that another friend’s kid doesn’t sleep through the night, and where another friend traveled on Thanksgiving. I know everything about my “friends”, I just know nothing about my friends. People seem to be too busy, too overworked, too something to actually make, and (God forbid) keep a plan. Possibly, the people I know would have more time to see or speak to actual humans in person were they not spending so much time on the Internet updating their Facebook page every time they have a successful bowel movement.

The older I get, the less real friends I have. I can count on one hand the amount of friends or family members I speak to with any regularity, the number who actually know the details of my current life even less. I have friends and family members who've never come to see my child and I live down the block from two friends whom I never see. But I do know which Facebook friend is on a raw food diet, which one really like her kids’ Halloween costumes, and whose afraid to turn 40. I know the Cliffnotes of my friends lives.

I’ve enjoyed being on Facebook. It’s provided me the opportunity to find old friends whom I’d lost touch with for no other reason than we lost touch. I’ve seen photos of their children, most of whom I’ll never meet due to distance. And I’ve reconnected with a part of my life I’d long since abandoned. But I’ve come to realize that knowing someone isn’t knowing the stats of their life. Friendship isn’t catching up, it’s moving forward. So the next time I go on a raw food diet, like my kid’s Halloween costume, or have a successful b.m., I’m going to call an actual real live human person whom I consider a friend. And if I want to know their response, I’ll click on Facebook, chances are that’s where to find them.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Excuse me, would you mind moving your cart over? That’s all I said to the woman, parked next to me, whose shopping cart is sitting in the parking spot that will soon be mine. I’m at Trader Joe’s, parking spots are a commodity and this is the last in the lot. The woman, either doesn’t hear me or doesn’t want to me hear me. She’s busy trying to figure out how to unlock her car. Apparently, in between the bulk cashews and organic lettuce, she forgot how to unlock her own car. Nonetheless, I’ve got 30 cars honking behind me, angry that I’ve held up the line, each hoping I’ll move on so they can take the spot. I ask again, Excuse me, would you mind moving your cart? She turns to me, winks, and says, “Eventually” and goes back to trying to unlock her own car.

Every time I’m at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, I’m faced with a similar issue. There’s always some sort of automobile altercation involving two people who in addition to loving sustainable foods, also love Range Rovers. They’ll fight to the end over the last parking spot or the last cumquat. They’ll overpay for organic air, but pass the free sample table 10-20 times saying things like, “Oooh, what’s this?” as if they haven’t already had 30 squares of free cheddar, outed only by the fact that they and the sample girl are now on a first name basis.

I’ve always thought the customers at these expensive healthy markets are so rude because they’re hungry. Tempers can rise when the last real meal you had was cooked kale and barbequed tempeh. Judgment isn’t always clear when you’re on your third day of a 47 day cleansing fast and you’ve run out of Cayenne Pepper, the sole ingredient in your fast other than jicama. People aren’t always nice when they’re hungry.

But these angry people seem to be all over the place. It’s sort of like the three years where everywhere I went I’d see either Jennifer Grey or Jeremy Piven. It got to the point where I started to consider they were the same person since they were never in the same place but one of them was always there. But now instead of Baby and Ari following me around town, angry and hungry are after me. Everywhere I go there’s someone yelling at someone.

From Election Day to yoga class, there they are. The girl who speaks in hushed tones, breathing deeply through carefully modulated breaths is the first to say “No way” when the teacher asks her to move her yoga mat to make room for another. Obama loving, No on Prop 8 voting open minded citizens duking it out in from of my polling place, neither willing to give up the closest parking spot to the building. A woman, kids in hand, screaming at the checker at Babies R Us, “I’ll wait for you outside and cut you!” also has a bumper sticker on her car that reads, “God loves us all.”

Personally, when people like Miss Eventually gives me a wink and an ignore, I want to roll down my window and say, “Well maybe eventually you should go fuck yourself.” But ever since I flipped off that huge angry man who chased me and my husband for 20 minutes through back allies and private roads only to catch up to us and scream, “Now what do you have to say?” I’ve tried to tone it down. Especially when my kid is in my car. I try to remember that it’s not my job to remind everyone else that they’re morons, chances are they already know.

It’s hard to go through life thinking there will be enough because it always feels like there won't be...enough parking spots, free samples, space to exercise. It's hard to remember to take a deep breath and remind yourself there will be more...of everything. There will be enough. And screaming at strangers or taking something away from someone else doesn’t create anything more; it just makes us feel good for a second, until something else makes us feel badly.

So when I see Miss Eventually still struggling with her car when I finish my shopping, I roll myself and my kid over, and show her how to open her car door. My husband calls me Tech support cause I can figure things out, a Mommy MacGyver if you will. Figuring out how to open a car in 2008 isn’t so tough.

The woman thanks me profusely and says she just couldn’t figure it out. I simply respond, “Oh you’d a figured it out.” And while I’m still tempted to ding her car or block her in, I just load my boy and my crap in my KidUV and go home. And while it’s not as gratifying to walk away from the opportunity to be right, getting into it is a bad idea. That kind of stuff catches up with you. Maybe not now, and maybe not a long time from now, but it catches up with you, eventually.

Friday, November 14, 2008


The first thought the came to mind when my son was born was, “Anything for you.” When I saw his little face, full head of hair, ten fingers and toes, all I could think was, “Anything for you.” And now, I’m standing in the Nordstrom Kid’s Shoe department hoping I didn’t say that loud enough for anyone to hear.

It happens overnight. One day, you’ve got a noodle who just eats and sleeps all day, the next you’ve got a terror who needs shoes. My kid has been toying with walking, or falling, for a while. But now he’s moved up to the big leagues, the Frankenstein walk, and he couldn’t be happier. My kid is a Walkaholic. It’s all he wants to do, unless he has the opportunity to climb, which he considers just walking turned upward.

Walking well is undoubtedly just around the corner. Walking far, coming up on its tail. And running is in my near future. I say mine because it is I who will running after he, my terror, when he discovers that running is like walking on crack. So my kid needs shoes.

Buying a kid his first shoes is a Sunrise/Sunset moment. It’s emotional. As my kid gets closer and closer to crossing each milestone, I get closer and closer to losing a good friend I fondly call, “disposable income.” This makes me emotional. Having a child is like living in Manhattan. From the second you leave the house, you’re twenty bucks poorer.

The problem isn’t just the price, it’s that I love them. One pair after another are really, really cute. It’s not just the tiny Chuck Taylor’s or the mini Ugg Boots, it’s the Prada loafers that have their own special rack with a smart sign and label. The shoes beckon me and remind me that I said, “Anything for you.”

In my mind, I know it’s silly to buy a child anything expensive. Kids like to do things like grow, lose, hurl, maim, and destroy. They don’t know the difference between Gucci and Gap and will undoubtedly not fit into either within 4.4 seconds of their purchase. But still, they’re really cute. I’m tempted. I’m just keeping my promise, “Anything for you.” Isn’t that what parents are supposed to do?

I turn the loafers over and am already thinking of the explanation I’ll give my husband for spending 80 or 100 dollars on kid shoes. But they’re not 80 or 100 dollars, they’re $250. I turn them back over, look up and see a sign: Sale. Four letters have never sounded so good. You see, I had a child, not a lobotomy. The only person whose getting overpriced shoes in my house is me. I’m far less likely to grow, lose, or maim.

I feel good leaving the store with a $30 pair of shoes, a chocolate brown loafer with a smart Velcro strap and a green balloon. My kid seems far more interested in the balloon than the shoes and I am happy I didn’t give in and overspend. On the way out, I pass a woman, her cell phone, and her daughter, all three covered in Burberry. The kid is throwing a temper tantrum because she wants her Mom to get off the phone. She takes off her Burberry rain boots and throws them into the aisle. The Mom doesn’t notice as she keeps on pushing the stroller and talking on the phone. At $300 a pop for for the boots, the Mom will find that to be a very expensive phone call.

I live in LA where no one seems to have a job and everyone seems to have money. The kids are as well dressed as their parents, designer duds not out of the question. Me trying to keep up isn’t doing anything for my kid. Doing anything for him means getting over my own desire to have my kid be the best dressed and do what’s right which is to get him what he needs, not what I want him to have. Undoubtedly, I have a lifetime ahead of me of my kid telling me, “But Johnny got a Game Boy, Xbox, PSP, new Car, trip to Europe…” which will be followed by the mandatory parental answer, “Well then you should go live with Johnny.”

At some point in the conversation my kid claim I am the meanest Mom in the world and at some point I’ll believe him. But when my kid can go to college because I didn’t spend my savings trying to keep up with Johnny, he’ll someday realize his parents did do anything for him. Making sure your kids will have a secure future is doing anything. Making sure your kids look great in the process, just an added benefit.

We watch the fountain and check out Santa, but then it’s time to go home. I put my kid in the car and look down. We’re down one man, one shoe gone. We owned the shoes for 30 minutes. That’s a buck a minute. My son’s feet charge more than some call girls. And while buying the shoes again is pricey, the time together is priceless, even if I did just buy a $30 balloon.

Friday, October 31, 2008


I’m surprisingly handy. It comes from growing up in a do-it-yourself, this knowledge will build character, kind of family. Character building is the term parents use to justify slave labor. When I was 7 my Dad and I were the President, Vice-President and only members of our synagogue’s landscaping committee. At first-grade, I could boast built character, not to mention a keen understanding of how long it takes for a small child to plant 200 junipers. And unlike my husband who grew up in a Manhattan townhouse with more staff working in his house than people who lived in it, I grew up the youngest of three girls; I was the staff. So that’s why I’m doing surgery on my son’s $1000 Stroller System, which is on the fritz and determined to build my character, more.

For those not member's of the baby world’s Sorority, Kappa Kappa Overspending, a Stroller System is merely an overpriced stroller. For $1000, a stroller becomes a “system” giving owners the opportunity to both feel like a total and complete asshole for paying so much for a stroller and the feeling of superiority over those parents who didn’t. Currently, my son’s System is in the sick bay with two flat tires complete with air pump that neither pumps nor supplies air, an adjustable handle bar that won’t adjust, and a handle bar grip that looks like its been chewed to bits by a very angry wolf.

But with the $1000 purchase and the feeling of superiority, also come something only System owners get: real live customer service. I’ve received replacement parts for those not working from Claire, an actual human on the other end of We’ve even had a back and forth email exchange, me wondering why I can’t follow the supposedly very easy directions that accompanied my System’s replacement parts and why my hands are too big to properly work the L-shaped Aika style wrench clearly made for small children working in coal mines.

Re: Replacement Parts

Dear Claire:
Thanks so much for the parts. My only question regarding the “easy to remove cup holder,” is: how do you define easy?

Re Re: Replacement Parts

Dear Meredith:
You may need a hammer, mallet, flat-head screwdriver, Phillips-head screwdriver, a wrecking ball, and a tetanus shot but otherwise the screws should come out after a couple of hours.

You should know that unless a hammer has a Gucci symbol on it, my husband isn’t interested. So I’m on my own figuring this one out. I’ve been at it for a couple hours, me now fairly certain that I might define the word easy a bit differently than my new best friend on the other end of customer service.

Hour three turns into hour four. I’m now cursing directly at my tiny little Aika wrench, Fucking piece of shit, I yell as I give in to the notion that I’m not as handy as previously thought. But before I can yell directly at the System itself, my kid, who by the way can’t walk, crawls by without even a glance my way, climbs himself up the wall so he’s standing like Spider-Man, opens the door and crawls out into the front yard. A Toddler who can’t walk figured out how to escape and I can’t unscrew a screw? I think to myself. This System will not beat me! I say now more determined than ever to finish my mission.

I end my kid’s self-proclaimed liberation and put him to bed, deciding to spend the rest of the evening fixing my System. I’ll open a bottle of wine, watch something stupid on TV, and fix this damned thing, I think. But when I search for the corkscrew, I can’t find it. Instead, I find every cabinet in my kitchen open, a Tupperware massacre occurring on my floor. I go to turn on the TV but the remote has been altered, the TV no longer turns on. In fact, I look around the house and nearly every bit of baby-proofing has been removed, the contents of each cabinet strewn about. I’ve been baby-ransacked! I realize. It seems that I’m not the only Handy Andy in the house, I’ve given birth to a modern day McGyver.

In fact, spend time with any one-year-old and it is clear they are far smarter than their parents. When my son doesn’t like his dinner, he hides it in his pockets, smiling like a Cheshire cat. He may have a toy cell phone and a fake set of keys, but he wants the real thing, knows the difference, and can call Tanzania with the flip of a few cordless phone buttons. He can un-babyproof a house faster than I can say, Watch out, that’s sharp! And he can tell when I’m hiding vegetables in his food even if he can’t see them.

The only thing he hasn’t figured out is how to do is quit. He’s tenacious, has his eyes on the prize and is determined to acquire the phone, remote, or computer no matter where I hide them. He’s figured out how to open doors and how to hide food, and he’s even figuring out how to walk. So if my kid isn’t a quitter, than I won’t be a quitter. And since I figured how to fix our rooftop satellite dish when I was 8 months pregnant (no Gucci on the dish, husband wasn’t interested), fixed our water heater without any prior plumbing knowledge, and repaired all our TVs after the geniuses at Direct TV “fixed” them, I can figure out how to mend a Stroller System desperately in need of repair.

If not, I’ll just ask my kid who seems to know everything. Just today, he figured out how to flush a toilet. Maybe next, he’ll teach his Dad.