Sometimes I feel very disconnected from . . . something. The culture around me, I guess. I mean, I am grateful that I have good friends who are not crazy (you know who you are) but I know we must be the weird ones. I picked up October’s issue of Chicago Parent magazine, just to see if there were any interesting events or places to take Zoe. Also I liked the cover lines about “The Art of Hands-Off Parenting” and “Wowzer! Five ways to find your inner vixen” so I thought I’d check it out.
Here is the first suggestion from “Wowzer!”:
“Check out the dirty mags at the checkout.”
Now, I know you’re thinking, “Dirty mags at the checkout? I haven’t seen any dirty magazines at my supermarket’s checkout.” Although come to think of it, it’s possible that the Jewel I went to when I lived downtown stocked some Playboys and Penthouses, so, okay, buy mainstream porn. An interesting suggestion. But wait. She’s not talking Playboy or Penthouse. She goes on:
“Have you read a Cosmo lately? Wowzer. I picked up a copy for a recent plane trip and after reading it cover to cover, I felt like I had just become an honorary member of the Mile High Club.”
Cosmo? Cosmo is dirty enough for all that? Honey, you need to get out more. I mean, lately? They’ve been publishing the same six sex articles since I was 12. And I know because I used to buy them when I was 12. Because at 12, I hadn’t even kissed a boy, so the stuff in Cosmo did seem especially raunchy and, well, wowzer. Now that I have actually had sex, not so much.
Her other suggestions include buying racy underwear from Victoria’s Secret, as if Victoria’s Secret is some sort of crazy-sexy place that only your husband’s mistress goes, like it’s not completely mainstream with an outpost at every mall and a mail-order catalog for heaven’s sake, and also mainly sells brightly colored cotton underwear and sweatpants. (I will say for the record that though I have sworn off Victoria’s Secret underwear for being shoddily made and the bras for not remotely fitting my breasts, I have a pair of sweatpants that I like from them.) Then she suggests wearing them all day to feel super-sexy. I have to say that I do not feel super-sexy in the bra and panties I’ve been sweating in all day.
Okay, so me and Meredith Sinclair, the author of these suggestions, do not see eye-to-eye on sexy time. (I should note that I think it might only be in comparison to those who consider Cosmo to be an eye-opening read that my sex life might in anyway be considered unusually daring or adventurous.) But, of course, there’s more. Like the positive review of Go Roma (For those of you who don’t have one near you, like the denizens of New Jersey, who can get GOOD pizza and pasta, fast and cheap, it’s a cafeteria-style “Italian” place). The main point of the review seems to be that it’s cheap and her kids liked it. She especially seems to have enjoyed the traditional Italian french fries. I also enjoy how this column is called “Your City,” when there are Go Romas all over Illinois.
Here’s a question for the advice columnist: “My son receives dozens of profane texts each day from a friend. I want to take the texting away, but my husband disagrees. How can I stop these rude texts?” I’m sorry, your son is old enough for a texting plan, but you’re . . . reading his tests? Inappropriate! That’s not what the advice columnist says, although she does sensibly point out that you shouldn’t punish your kid for what another kid is doing. But seriously, why isn’t the first thing that you’re not allowed to read the texts on your kids’ phones?
There were a few things I liked. They had a little interview with Malika Ameen, one of the Top Chef: Just Desserts “cheftestants.” Of course, they are totally willing to buy into the reality show fiction by implying that she must have lasted long in the competition, as she was away from her sons for a very, very long time. Excuse me, all the cheftestants are away from their homes for a long time. You don’t “go home” on these elimination shows; you go to a separate and secured hotel where your contact with the outside world continues to be limited until the end of the month-long taping session, so no one sees you in the grocery store on a given Wednesday and goes, “Ah-ha! Malika must get eliminated after the fifth competition!” But never mind. I also did enjoy the story on hands-off parenting, although I already am a hands-off parent, and there was an article by a woman who used to live downtown, now lives in the sticks with her kids, but took them into the city for a weekend and had fun. That was nice.
They have Celebrations section, with party-planning advice for various age groups. Most of it is the “You should have the party at this location, which is not at all a sponsor of their magazine (oh, is that their ad?)!” variety. Fine. But there was some weird advice. Like the article on “‘Sleep’ over Celebrations.” )See, it’s funny, because kids never sleep at a sleepover! Oh, you kill me.) Anyway, they’re talking 11 and up sleepovers, and then they start talking about companies that will come to your home and “do” sleepover parties? Like Glitzy Girlz will come over to your house and make jewelry with your kids? I went to many a sleepover party at that age. The parents ordered pizza and then left the basement. We would eat pizza, play stupid games like MASH (equipment required – notebook paper; pen or pencil. Set of several different-colored pens ideal.), and watch movies. Mostly My Stepmother Is An Alien. Why that one? Who knows? It was very in back then. I really thought that was all you needed for a successful sleepover.
But then the kicker. In the Celebrations section, there was an article called “‘Not So Pink’ Girl Parties.” From that headline, I assumed that this was advice on how to have a girls’ birthday party that didn’t revolve around sparkles and glitter, because what parent wants that? Turns out it was just the opposite.
“Planning a birthday party for girls is easy, right? All you need are some purple princess balloons or pink Barbie plates – unless, (sic on the comma) that party girl has stated, “I don’t want a ‘girly’ party.” Planning a non-girly party doesn’t mean you have to completely forgo the glitter and glam (IT DOESN’T??!!), but it does mean you need to thinking outside of the traditional girl party box.”
So instead of my assumption – that it’s a problem, albeit not an earth-shattering one, that little girls have been socially conditioned to want pink and Barbie at all their birthday parties, and as a mom, you can control that by offering non-pink-Barbie parties that are still fun for little girls, instead the problem according to this article is that some girls don’t want pink Barbies, so how can you, the mom, insert your pink Barbie agenda on your recalcitrant little tomboy? Suggestions include adding dancing to a sports-themed party(?), use Hello Kitty decorations at your video game party, and have girls make perfumes or lip glosses at your science-themed party. Seriously. That’s awful. Who are these people?
Apparently they are the average Chicago Parents. (Or, more accurately, Chicago Moms, let’s be serious.) And I’m feeling a little disconnected.