Monday, November 12, 2007

Please won't you be my neighbor?

At the park on Saturday, I was accosted by a stay-at-home mother or Mommie, as I think of them. Usually my avoidance of the playground benches and focus on my kids ensure these weirdos leave me alone. Unlucky for me, it was a game day, so the playground was almost empty, and Ellie (Notice how her name ends in 'ie'? They all do.) was determined. Ellie chatted brightly about how her family had moved to town the day before, and she had come to the park to find mommie friends.

Her third question, right after establishing my name and how long I've lived here, was "And what does your husband do?" I was so thrown, I answered before I could process the implications of that question. I was as surprised as if she'd just asked me my shoe size, but I thought there would be some follow-up information that would justify the inquiry. Like if I answered size 7 1/2, she'd give me a pair of shoes. But that wasn't the purpose of the question. She was "getting to know me" and, apparently, my husband's occupation defines not only him, but me as well. Once my brain caught up with my mouth, I felt like I'd taken a swig of sour milk and swallowed before realizing it had gone bad.

Now I'm not very good at small talk, but if I want to get to know people, I'm interested in their hobbies, their taste in books and music. A person's career as a realtor tells me nothing about whether we'd get along, but a scrapbooking obsession speaks volumes. I don't walk up to a man and ask how he earns his money, and I sure as hell wouldn't approach a woman and ask how her husband keeps her. Seriously, who thinks like that? A job, no matter how much you love it, is WHAT YOU DO, not WHO YOU ARE.

As I walked away, I realized that I must have blown my new-mommie-friend interview because Ellie didn't ask for my number or try to give me hers. Or maybe I was supposed to initiate that. This sounds an awful lot like dating, and I never did that either.

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