Saturday, March 19, 2011
Family Fun Day...and Married Couples
Okay, I guess you can tell by the crowd that my kids live in a pretty gentrified protected part of the world, pasty white folks and hot plastic jumpy things packed into the school parking lot - but what a day for it - it could not be any nicer today with 80 degree weather, not a cloud in the sky, and a school parking lot filled with kids and Taylor Swift blaring over the loudspeaker. I love being with the kids - my son is getting old enough now that he recognizes folks in the neighborhood (all the little kids look the same to me), and my daughter must have a million "BFF's" that all run and scream and hug when they see each other. I think they actually saw each other yesterday, but I imagine a day away from your friends when you are in elementary school must seem like an eternity. A couple of very important things that I noticed when going to a Family Fun Day in Northwest St. Johns County:
1. All male parents must have baggy khaki or brown shorts. Any diversion from this official color will register you as an outsider, a tourist, or a pervert trolling school grounds. Please adhere.
2. All parents, regardless of gender, must wear open toed sandals or their close cousin, the Teva derivative. This shall be mandated regardless of the number of bunions, callouses, or warts that you may have on your feet. No closed toed shoes are permitted.
3. T-Shirts for men must be either from Old Navy, or have a local Sports Team on them, such as Creeks Lacrosse, Knights Football, Creeks Soccer, or the Mills Park baseball field. No variance is considered normal. Do not wear concert t-shirts. Do not wear beer t-shirts. Do not wear airbrushed Atlantic City T-shirts that you picked up on your last visit to the Northeast.
4. If males choose to wear a collared shirt, you must keep the collar up and "popped" at all times. Not only does this signify your allegiance to the neighborhood, but it makes you look just like everyone else.
5. T-shirts must be untucked and appear tidily untidy. Stand in front of the mirror and make sure to have the right hang. Tucked t-shirts will be immediatly untucked. Collared shirts must be tucked into your baggy tan or brown shorts. They must be accompanied by a snazzy braided belt, or better yet, a rope material belt with yacht club logos on them.
6. Old Navy must be worn by all children at all times. Failure to do so will result in mocking and bullying from the other old navy children. As bullying is punished severely, please do not make your child a target by dressing them in WalMart, K Mart, Target, JC Penney, Polo, Lucky, Gap, or any other clothing line. It must be Old Navy.
7. In order to keep your children well rounded, you must ply them with Cotton Candy, Hot Dogs, Cold Sodas, and other items that cost additional money outside of the $7 entrance fee. This way, Michelle Obama will have a reason to visit and implement the new "Play 60, Eat 90" program. It is a new program dedicated to eating our way to a better economy and exercising our way to healthier kids.
8. If you own any other vehicle besides the trinity of accepted vehicular carriage, that consists of the Dodge Town and Country (Grand Caravans with various upgrades are accepted), a Nissan Sport Utility Vehicle (the make and model are insignificant), or a General Motors Tank with seating for 17, you will need to park in the "democrat" lot. It is a short bus ride to the school from that lot, but please, they do not want the school to appear to have environmentally friendly vehicles. If you must display your greeness, a bumper sticker on the back of your General Motors Family Bus for All that says "I don't idle when I take my kids to Lacrosse Practice" will suffice.
I realize that I am making fun of myself, and that I would not want my kids in any other neighborhood, this one is safe and clean and comfortable, but walking through there, I sort of felt this sense of alienation from the rest of the world - it is like the Creek is an island - and once you cross over, you need to assimilate, and do so quickly. Today, at the eight am soccer matches, the moms and dads on the sidelines were discussing the $2,500 camps for the summer, and the $6,000 trip to Europe their kids were going to be taking. My sabbatical and exploration stages consisted of mowing grass at a golf course, a $99 Greyhound ticket, and being granted leniency on a phone bill. I just don't know how I would react if my son asked me to go to Europe, and then dropped a $6,000 price tag. Hell, I have never been to Europe or equestrian camp or mountaineering camp - my parents idea of camp was dragging the 1954 pop up that smelled like mothballs into Northwest Georgia, and staying there for two months. That was camp. We found things to do and learned that the folks in campsite 14C were to be avoided after three pm, because that is when the beer started to kick in. We burned things, we swam in murky orange water, we hiked when it was 400 degrees outside. We did all of that without a CPR and Rescue trained guide, and pretty much made it back safe, but did recieve the occasional scratch, bump, break, or tear - that was just the way it was. It is just a different world than the one that I grew up in. I don't quite understand it, but at least I know how to play by the rules. I did wear a concert t-shirt, but I made sure the hang was just right, and that the khaki shorts matched perfectly.
All the while, it was great to play with kids - they are growing up quickly, and for the most part, I can already sense that they view me as a necessary evil to provide food, shelter, compassion, and a ride somewhere. With that being said, it is great to be needed.
Okay - so here is my non-scientific observation of the day. Folks who are married do not take care of themselves as well as folks who are not married. At least in the Creeks. My ex is a perfect example of this - somewhere between 80 and 100 pounds have been shed, and it seems like all of the single parents at the Creek adhere to the same rule. They just take better care of themselves. I don't know what it is, or if they are trying to play the field, but I suspect it is that they are just happier. I know that I am happier, and don't find it too difficult to go to the gym or not wear the same clothes that I have been wearing. There was plenty of evidence today, and I am pretty sure the married couples that did take care of themselves were either swingers or vegan, or both, For the most part, the men were toting around beach balls in their shirts, and the wives either looked pissed, hot, tired, or frustrated. The single slice pizza line was chock full of the married folks, and every ounce of shade was taken up by them as they devoured their winnings from the cake walk. They just looked unhappy. Don't get me wrong here, I am not making a commentary on the nuclear family and its importance in the rearing of a child (I think it is minimal - you can raise a child as two single parents, and if you can be happy doing that, and your child can be well rounded and intelligent and patiently think through things, then screw the nuclear family), I am just asking myself about this convention of religious marriage and the implications and consequences that it brings. I think marriage, the way it is now, is a tax break, a way to not go home alone, and to have child care. Sure, there are times of companionship and care and love and all of that other stuff - but you can have that without all of the other garbage that goes along with it. I mean really, do I need to wear a ring, follow you everywhere, and let myself go to signify my undying unyielding love for another? Do I need to pretend that the fact that I have gotten overweight and my ass produces more sweat than a cows udder produces milk makes me happy and that nothing, absolutely nothing is wrong? It just seems to me that alot of folks just settle. They just take it as it was dealt to them, and obliviously say that it is okay, someone loves me, and that's all I need. They will always be there, we are a team. That shit just does not make sense to me anymore (trust me, I was just as guilty as the next guy - kicking size 44 slacks and boasting a 258 pound torso) and I realize that I was just plain settling, and not willing to do anything about it. Who knows. I know some folks who are happy being married and who do not make excuses for things - I just don't know that I can make a prediction about death doing us apart or the whole trust and obey thing - I can say that for now, we are committed and enjoy each others company and that even though there may be more mature changes in a relationship, that there is still some real joy there - but like I said, today, it just looked like those folks were trying to suck every ounce of life out of a stick of cotton candy and two footlong hotdogs, counting the hours down until they could go to the house, sit on the couch, and drink a beer or twelve. Next time you are out, shopping, at a concert, dancing, running, swimming, anything - look around and do some people watching - and believe me, you will notice it too - marriage is not what they make it out to be - it is compromise to the nth degree, and hell, in some cases, n is pretty damn big.
I knew I could type another one before the end of March -