Rule of Suburbia
Nearly a decade ago, I moved to the suburbs from NYC. In that time I've learned some pretty important things to ensure my survival, nay, my sanity.
If my 'burb sent out a handbook it would look something like this. Feel free to use it as a mini-survival guide. Good luck and in the words of that guy on Hill Street Blues, 'Hey, let's be careful out there.'
1. All children must be signed up for multiple sports and extracurricular activities, to ensure that no family can plan anything on a Saturday until their kids are too old to want to spend Saturdays with their family.
2. Do NOT be alarmed if you try to enter the wrong minivan or SUV, this is common. Try to lessen the confusion by putting fun stickers on your back windshield representing each of your children performing their favorite activity.
3. You can paint your house one of 477 shades of tan. Other colors will be categorically denied, so don't even try it!
4. If your child has strep or hand foot and mouth, be aware that the entire town will know about it before you get his/her prescription filled. PS this same urgency in passing news applies to affairs as well!
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5. As a suburban mom you are expected to start some kind of craft business immediately. Your choices are: hair accessories, jewelry, embellished clothing, or things you can print on card stock - anything else must be cleared through the Chamber of Commerce.
6. If you already have a job, you are expected to purchase these crafted goods, in bulk, at the myriad of local holiday boutiques that celebrate everything from Ramadan to Flag Day. Like PTA meetings, being absent is frowned upon.
7. If you do not find a grocery store or Starbucks within one mile of your current position, you're lost and have entered an inferior neighborhood! Please stay calm and return to your suburb immediately.
8. You are required to join a gym. There, you must take spin classes with disco lighting, pretzel yourself into a reformer, and learn the art-form that is Zumba.
9. You will be expected to pressure clean anything and everything from your sidewalk to your dog. Be prepared.
10. Make sure your dog is cute, as neighbors will constantly stop to pet it. Be warned, the same neighbors will turn you in to the association the first time Rufus barks after 9PM. (Don't name your dog Rufus)
11. Make an immediate trip to lululemon/Athetica/GapBody/Target … and pick up workout/athletic/golf/tennis gear that's trendier than simply wearing sweatpants. Wear these goods at least 50 -100% of the time; in the winter, simply wear your athletic gear with Uggs.
12. You will need to attend a mind-numbing amount of birthday lunches/dinners for ladies turning anywhere from 30-50. Get there early, as who you sit next to (or don't sit next to) can make or break your day.
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13. Cut back on sex ASAP, as you will find yourself in conversations where moms discuss their infrequent, and unsatisfying sex life regularly - at lunches, parties, dinners, play-dates.
14. And stop giving BJs! People in the 'burbs are only expected to give them on birthdays and anniversaries.
15. Living in the 'burbs is a little like reading Us Weekly: Everything is sensationalized. It's fun to discuss "who wore it best," but not as much fun as playing Fashion Police. You will find yourself looking for cellulite/wrinkles on young skinny moms. And gossip is treated as gospel.
I hope this helps you fit into the suburban life you've chosen. Maybe I'll see you at the next boutique sale - I'll be selling picture frames with random findings glued on to them!
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Jenny Isenman AKA Jenny From the Blog is the humorist behind The Suburban Jungle.com. Twelve years ago she answered this ad: "Seeking highly motivated person, who requires little sleep, to cook, clean, wipe tushies, noses, and countertops… oh, and provide occasional sex. Person will be overworked and under-appreciated. Prior experience is frowned upon. Always on duty. Will pay nothing." I mean, she got married and started a family.