If I wrote a post criticizing the parents at my kid’s new school for driving beat-up cars manufactured during the Bush administration, you would think I was an asshole. I would think I was an asshole. Because hating on people for driving shabby cars is shallow and classist and materialistic, right? I certainly don’t want someone judging me for my Honda mini-van, which has more scratched surface than not-scratched surfaces (I have a depth-perception problem. Also, I don’t pay attention to fences.)
So why do I think it’s acceptable (even laudable) to form judgments about the parents who drive fancy German cars? (FN 1) I have done the pick-up / drop-off routine at Sadie’s school four times so far. I have met wonderfully anxious moms (like a certain Pier-1-phobe I know) who have been warm and open with me. I had a lovely conversation with a stay-at-home Grandpa about his most recent cancer radiation treatment. No one has spurned me because of my car. Actually, it seems that no one has paid any attention to how I get to and from school.
But, when I turn to the street after dropping Sadie off in her classroom, I am blinded by the row of fancy black SUVs. I search for a car that looks like mine. I decide that the driver of the car that doesn’t intimidate me will be my new best friend. Nice criteria, huh? I think Ted Bundy drove a Pinto. (FN2)
I know this is what I do when I am anxious. I assume that everyone else is more relaxed, more affluent, cooks better meals (or cooks at all), has better sex, and knows how to redeem a gift certificate. You know, some life fundamentals that have eluded me thus far.
On Wednesday, I was talking to a mom who mentioned that her husband was an attorney. I froze. An attorney? I assumed that they must live in blah-blah neighborhood, and she probably has Michelle Obama arms underneath that work-out shirt. I felt myself clam up from fear of not measuring up.
Even I can see that my reaction was totally insane, on every level, mostly because a) my husband is an attorney too, and b) I am an attorney (though not practicing). How laughable if someone made similar assumptions about me that I was making about her.
Am I so determined to not to fit in that I have to ignore big facts (that little matter of being the member of a two-attorney household) of my own life? The better question is why do I have to focus on things like that?
FN 1: Is a Lexus German? Because I am totally talking about Lexus SUVs. And Mercedes. And Range Rovers.
FN 2: I have no idea what kind of car Ted Bundy drove. I am scared to Google it because I may get sucked into morbid articles about mass murderers. Let’s just assume it was a Pinto and move on.