Sex And The Suburbs, Part 1

Oh man. So the wife won. Check and mate. We’re leaving New York and moving to the suburbs. [Dramatic pause for the sound of my hairline receding.] It now dawns on me that she’d been planning this since our second date. But she kept her agenda well hidden until we were all married off and babied up.

Not just any suburbs either. The Boston suburbs are not only where I grew up – we are moving back to the very town from which I spent much of adolescence plotting my escape.

Since leaving I’ve lived in Poughkeepsie long enough to spell it from memory; St. Petersburg, Russia as it emerged, woozy, from communism; Austin, Texas when tattoos and goatees were ubiquitous but not yet required uniforms; a year in London; and 15 in lower Manhattan.

Throughout, I’ve been keenly aware of having spent my formative years in the Cradle of the American Revolution. Home of the Minuteman (it’s not a sexual reference). Every region in the country emphasizes it’s own history in school, presumably to make field trips easier. For us it was Plymouth Rock and Paul Revere’s ride. In Texas they just teach the Alamo. And on the West Coast, U.S. history doesn’t officially begin until the Gold Rush.

Moving back, I feel like Oedipus trying to defy the Oracle. She’s like, “You are destined to kill your father and screw you mother,” and I’m dismissing her with an affected wave and a chuckle, saying “Oh I’d never do that.”

We are doing this, of course, for our son of 20 months. We’re figuring that instead of concrete, city lights and the honking of cabs, he’ll be better served by woods, stars and the sound of crickets.

Toddlers, it turns out, are not ideally suited to apartment life. My son doesn’t understand why banging a rolling pin on the floor is not an acceptable musical expression. He’s perplexed that sitting on the sidewalk is forbidden, on account of the neighborhood dogs vying for territorial supremacy.

None of this should imply that New York isn’t kid-friendly. It’s just not parent-friendly. Applying to preschool involves the effort, expense and statistical likelihood of finding a kidney donor. Our elementary school is so oversubscribed that its playground bears the aesthetic composition of a crowded prison yard. The whole business fills my wife with a dread that can only be banished by the sight of a Talbots.

Admittedly, I am starting to panic. The skills one acquires in New York do not translate well into the suburbs. The city has made me impatient, vulgar, and arrogant. (Though I was probably already vulgar.)

I’ve learned how to brush off come-ons from transvestite prostitutes. In the ‘burbs I’ll have to politely rebuff solicitous Girl Scouts.

I’ve grown used to bagels so big they could replace a flat tire in a pinch. Those suburban Bruegger’s bagels, by contrast, are the size of Cheerios.

In New York I’m attuned to garbled service announcements on the subway platform. In the suburbs I must learn to detect the subtle vibration of the Olive Garden’s pager announcing my table’s ready.

So our apartment is on the market and we’re scoping out houses. I’ll post periodic updates on our transition, with requests for advice when applicable. For now, if you see me wearing Dockers, I herby give permission to shoot on sight. Ditto for fleece. But hold your fire on boat shoes and duck boots. There is a season, turn, turn, turn…

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10 Responses to Sex And The Suburbs, Part 1

  1. Megan Alton March 27, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    Being in the Northwest I will attest we we have our fair amount of fleece, and it pretty much rocks. Definitely cooler than boat shoes. Good luck on the move!

  2. Ginger1 March 27, 2012 at 10:46 am #

    Don’t forget the very real threat of skunks, hornet nests, door-to-door mormons and jehovah’s witnesses and homicidal madness creeping from total isolation.

  3. Melanie March 27, 2012 at 11:53 am #

    Your Rhode Island reader welcomes you to the neighborhood :)

  4. Michele March 27, 2012 at 8:58 pm #

    Yes, Ginger! Totally! We are in the burbs (of Philly) and the other day, someone walked up and said “I couldnt help but notice you have a Mary in your yard.” They were JW and were out giving pamphlets, prayers, etc. It’s good that Peter answered the door; I would have said: “Oh, you mean our Goddess statue???” and smiled nicely.

    And, as Melanie said, welcome to the burbs!!!

  5. Amanda March 27, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    So what do we do if we see you wearing Crocs? Call the men in white coats? Have you tested for rabies?

    • Daddy Confidential March 27, 2012 at 11:18 pm #

      That’s not even funny. I’m gonna ask that you refrain from mentioning Crocs on this blog.

  6. Venus March 28, 2012 at 11:47 am #

    We moved from San Francisco to Buffalo (where my darling husband grew up) for pretty much the same reasons. Of course, while there are transvestite prostitutes in SF, they largely avoided me, so I don’t share that acquired talent for rebuff. What I haven’t had to use since moving to Bflo are my skills at: either giving to/fending off the homeless; avoiding the various unsanitary substances on the sidewalk in the Mission District; not laughing out loud at the hipsters; wearing heavy clothes in the summer and light clothes in the winter.

  7. Patricia May 15, 2013 at 8:57 pm #

    Hysterical blog!
    Sadly I can relate a little too well – right down to the Boston suburb.
    Glad to find your blog.


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