Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The way the simple folk live

The first night I babysat Alex, she was eating dinner when I arrived. Her dad explained her routine to me and then I joined her, sitting in a high stool at the tiled kitchen island. I'd had a quick dinner before I arrived so I watched this slight shy girl pick at the food in front of her. It appeared to be some pasta and sausage dish that most seven-year-olds wouldn't enjoy. Once her dad and his girlfriend were gone, she began to ask me if she could be done with her dinner and have her Hershey's bar for dessert. I knew she hadn't finished what her dad had determined was "enough" but I felt like this was a little girl being forced into living like a grown up, and I was happy to indulge her a little.

I babysat Alex a number of other times over the next year or so. Once that summer we managed to set off the security system and I didn't get the code punched in before the alarm company called to see if we were okay. I juggled two phones, reassuring the alarm operator that I was a babysitter and we were fine, while I talked to Alex's dad on the other line to try and find the correct art book in the living room to find the code. I did find it and managed to not require a visit from the police, but even now when I think of that house, it represents a higher class of living than I'm accustomed to.

There is a large part of me that would like to have a life like that--cooking tasteful dinners, drinking wine, reading fiction that isn't romance novels, actually reading the Newsweek magazine that I get each week. Every day and almost every decision I make is at this crossroads--should I go to Walmart to get a replacement for the lamp in my bedroom that isn't working? Should I buy the Care Bear fruit snacks and Goldfish crackers for office snacks while I'm there? And then there are the bigger choices--if I date him, and we ended up together, what kind of life would we have? Would we have a library of art coffee table books and cook sausage and pasta dinners for our kids? Or would we live in a modest house serving chicken nuggets and reading trashy novels?

I'm at a crossroads--I can continue to live the easy life or make the effort to change and make my life more sophisticated. Should I date the man who would buy art books or the one who would read TV Guide with me? Do I want to give up my fruit snacks and crackers in favor of sausage pasta and wine?



At 6:25 AM, Blogger Suzanne said...

Why not have both?

Some days D and I go to a restaurant in town that serves gourmet macaroni and cheese (Gruyere, parmesan, and marinated tomatoes on top) and then go to a play based on Greek myths at the university.

Other days we eat macaroni and cheese from the box and watch "The Simpsons" on TV. It all depends on our mood.

At 2:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, you're reaching that point, a point where you have to decide a seminal lifechanging question: Am I an East coast or a West coast gangsta'? Angela, darling, you need to strike a balance. It does make a difference. Your focus is dependent on viewing those scenarios as mutually exclusive cuts yourself a very narrow swath. I mean, there are people out there who have memorized every word of 50 Cent's new album (not me, but some folk) and can still find joy and meaning in Dostoevsky, appreciate surreal art AND can get all Rodgers and Hammerstein on yo' punk ass. (I mean, personally, I still get teary from the Sound of Music, but I still represent. I am a hardened thug that came from the streets, the unflinching streets of the Gold Coast (Motto: We got old folks with bling...)Humans are dynamic, fo' reals....

At 6:24 PM, Blogger bill said...

I agree with Suzanne. It's possible to have both elegance and McNuggets, discreet charm and 3 Stooges revivals. Its just a matter ( just ) of who you find to do them with. For some people -- and I'm incredibly lucky to be married to one of them -- its more important who you're with, than what you're doing.


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