After about 18 months of living out here in suburbia, I still feel very new to the area. I love my house: the paint colours (so carefully, so obsessively chosen) that please me whenever I glance at my walls, the woods floors that always look nice even though they get mopped about twice a year, the large kitchen with a place for everything. I love my neighbors: they are always ready for a fun chat and they were our much-appreciated only guests at my son’s first birthday party (the day after a blizzard). I’ve joined some great playgroups and started to meet some very nice people.
Unfortunately, though, I have a bit of trouble letting go of the not-so-nice people: the girls I met at new-mommy gatherings- events specifically designed for first-time suburban moms to meet and connect with other first-time suburban moms in their area- who were humorless and unfriendly. They swarmed together in their respective cliques and I wondered how they all seemed to know each other and what they talked about and why they never laughed at my jokes.
I mean, girls whom I KNOW (from the little awkward small talk we did) live within walking distance to my house. Their babies are close to my son’s age by just a few months. Almost all of them are not-very-religious Jews, like me. These are girls who I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to get to know, but they made the decision easy by ignoring me, never asking me anything about myself and then averting eye contact any time I ran into them out in the world. With such high-school behavior, I’ve often wondered if there was some sort of high-school reason for them to write me off despite the obvious advantages of getting to know me (insta-playdate, neighborhood walking partner, my son is super-cute and friendly, etc).
Like, could it be something so juvenile as me not wearing the right shoes? Not carrying the right purse? You never know with people, right? You never know how shallow a person’s friendship (or even acquaintanceship) deal-breakers might be.
I gave up on trying to dress like the cool kids in the 7th grade. It was no use: I could never get my jeans tapered the right way. My mother got me exactly the wrong kind of leather bomber jacket at a wholesale place. And everyone wore flowered lycra bodysuits which highlighted my burgeoning rolls of tummy fat and made me horribly self-conscious. Of course, like every great nutcase, it bothers me when people don’t like me. So, I wonder. I overanalyze what I do or say.* I try to observe them and figure it out.
It took me all of high school to find my place as a girl who straddled the fence between the cool girls and the sort-of-dorks.
I’ve never been one to follow major trends. I tend to like what I like and that’s that.
I stayed marginally cool in college and have spent the greater part of my adult life trying to stay in touch with the few other weirdos I’ve connected with over the years. But now, now that I’m in the ultimate position as a role model and authority figure (not Pope, obviously, but mother), I feel just a little bit lost.
So in the spirit of an article that you might’ve read in high school about how to get the look of “Dazed and Confused” or “Pump Up the Volume“, here’s what you need if you want to start dressing exactly like the kind of suburban stay at home moms who ignore me.
It’s not all that difficult because there are two official categories:
The Tory Burch** Queens and the Gym Bunnies.
The Tory Burch Queens are pretty easy to emulate: you just need some Tory Burch shoes. You can make do with a purse, or the flip flops with the giant medallion, but really, you need the ballet flats. You need to wear them with leggings, an air of superiority, and total indifference to how awesome I am. Slip your immaculately pedicured feet into those Tory Burch ballet flats and get ready to wrinkle your pert nose at me, titter nervously and change the subject, no matter what I say to you.
These girls are closely related to those who wear only exercise clothes all the time. Yoga pants and sneakers. Sweatpants and Uggs. Why? Why can they not put on actual clothing? Is it comfort? Did they really not have time to change? Or is their fitness strategy to just randomly do squats whenever the opportunity presents itself, so they need to always be in sweatpants, just in case? Whether it be their determination to achieve constant comfort or a consistently elevated heart rate, their reaction to me is much like their ballet-flatted sisters: ew, you’re weird.
If you want to up the ante and REALLY go for the look, you need long, straight hair, a necklace that has either your baby’s name or their first initial on it, and obviously, a significant diamond engagement ring.
I do not have straight hair (despite a local stylist encouraging me to do the straightening treatment when I didn’t like the cut she gave my curls). I have several necklaces I like to wear, none of which have any initials, and I wear silver rings on my stubby, un-manicured fingers.
I have my loyalty and my sense of humor and my intellect and my hipster sneakers from France*** that I got off Ebay because apparently the Tory Burch Queens aren’t asking Nordstrom to stock them yet. I have a wonderful son that their kids would be lucky to play with. And I make the best chocolate chip cookies they will probably never have the chance to eat.
* In the interests of honesty and self-reflection, I might be a bit of a loud-mouth. It’s possible I share my opinions too much and it’s possible I joke around without knowing my audience. But SOMETHING has to fill those awkward silences! SOMETHING! ANYTHING!
** Full disclosure: I have disliked anything to do with Tory Burch ever since I first heard of her through her romance with Lance Armstrong. This was a long time ago, but I always believed Lance Armstrong was a cheating scumbag and I am nothing if not stubborn and loyal.
*** They are apparently “the Converse of France” and they are cheap and really comfy!