Saturday, February 28, 2009
When Affluenza meets Neurosis
It's called narcissism.
I call them "Mad Minivan Moms."
They are the new menace to suburbia. Well, they always have been, but the free-floating anxiety of these chaotic economic times has made it worse.
And now that the President is talking about higher taxes for those with incomes over $250,000 . . . Well, let's just say it's not a pretty picture.
It's not bad enough that the parking lot of my church, which we share with the Borough of Chatham and the Library (A good deal, actually. We let them park, they plow and keep it maintained.), has become hazardous, but the parking lot at the local YM/WCA is down right treacherous.
These mini vans zoom into a parking place or zoom to the entrance of the Y and the next thing you know, the side doors magically slide open and out come a tumble of little kids like clowns in a circus act while the Mom behind the wheel is alternately yelling, "Hurry, hurry, or you'll be late!" and "Careful, careful, you'll hurt yourself."
Never mind that they are a danger to themselves and others. They've got to be 'enriched."
Yesterday, I was traveling one of the side streets of the Chatham Township where the speed limit is typically 25 mph. Except if you are a suburban mom with three kids in the back of a minivan who are on 'enrichment program' overload.
I'm quite certain she was trying to get one to piano lessons, another one to soccer practice and another to God only knows what an 18 month old might need to have enriched, and she was running late. I'm sure she was also thinking to herself, "And, I gave up a very fulfilling job with lots of status, not to mention a graduate degree, for THIS?"
So, she started tailgating. Right on my bumper. I was doing the speed limit in my sassy little VW Convertible Bug. I suppose she thought that, with a sports car, she could count on me to be a little reckless. You know. Go just a little faster.
Uh-uh. Not me. The last thing I need is for the local paper carry the headline "Episcopal WOMAN Priest Caught Speeding. Endangers Neighborhood. (See, didn't we tell you?)"
So, she starts zooming up to my tail and then backing off - zooming in and backing off. So, I took my foot OFF the gas pedal. Slowed 'er down a couple miles per hour. You know, just to return the favor.
The woman behind the wheel was decidedly NOT pleased. Oh, no. Not in the least. In fact, she got even closer to my tail, I assume she was trying to help me read the 'sign language' she was using to communicate her distress.
She was also good enough to get close enough for me to read her lips. I never knew how funny a person can look when you are trying to make sure someone understands that you are mouthing obscenities so your children won't know you are cursing.
I kept driving 25 mph. When I looked at her face again in my rear view mirror, she was deep reddish purple and her face was distorted in a most grotesque sort of way. I thought to my self, "My Goodness. This woman is capable of murder."
And then it dawned on me. She wanted to kill ME.
So, as soon as I could, about 1/4 of a mile from the end of the street, I pulled over into someone's driveway to let her by. She zoomed past me, throwing various obscene hand gestures and lip movements my way.
I shook my head sadly, let the next car pass me and then got back onto the street, only to find my (ahem) lady friend stopped two cars up ahead. The traffic light had turned red.
You could see the steam coming from her car.
I don't know what was so all-fired important. Except, it was all about her.
It was all about whether or not she was late getting her kids to their enrichment programs. Which, of course, would have been a judgment on her abilities as a mother. Which, of course, was now her full time job. The one she had sacrificed her career and education to take. Which is now in jeopardy because of the damn economy.
Well, you get the picture.
Nothing else in the world existed except her and her children and her schedule. Not any other place in the world. Not famine. Not poverty. Not disease. Not drought.
Nope. In fact, in that moment her children didn't even exist. It was just her and The Enemy. Which, of course, would have been moi, in that moment.
I'm sure I was but one of a string of demons she had to slay that day alone.
Understand, please. Not all women in my town are like this. In fact, there are many positively lovely, kind, generous wonderful women who live here. But there are enough of these other women - affluent, neurotic, narcissistic women - who, I swear, would make the Blessed Virgin Mary angry enough to turn the air blue with curses.
I'm sure that the woman in the minivan is one of the posse of women whose children attend the Day Care at the church. It hasn't been so for a while because the weather has been very cold, but as it starts to warm up again, I'll have to start planning to arrive later at the office so as not to disturb the little circle of conversation that gather right in my parking space by the front door.
And. They. Won't. Move.
Not an inch.
I'll pull into my space. They'll look over they're shoulders at me. They'll turn back and continue their conversation as if they didn't see me. I'll wait. Impatiently. I'll start to inch forward, pointing to the sign that says, "Clergy Parking" and then point to me. They'll look over they're shoulders at me. They'll look annoyed. Someone will begin to move S.L.O.W.L.Y. out of the way, while the rest follow at a snail's pace.
We'll enact this ritual at least twice a week. You know. Just so's we don't get 'rusty' or anything.
So, whenever I hear someone talk about driving in Newark or Paterson, and how this posse of young Hispanic or African-American teenaged thugs took their sweet time crossing the street when the light changed, I can't WAIT to tell them about my Suburban Minivan Moms.
Same dynamic from the opposite end of the financial spectrum.
There really isn't a point to this post. This is not a Boomer blaming GenXers or GenYers for their narcissism. There's no real socio-political statement. No stirring social commentary on the state of the economy. No inspiring theological statement on the Baptismal Covenant. No great wisdom I can impart.
Except that a cop did tell me that the worst thing to do with a tailgater is to slow down. The best thing to do, he said, is to jot down the make and model of their car, along with their license plate. Then, he said, you call the cops and they will visit said tailgater and give them a written warning.
Good idea. Note to self: replenish that pad of paper and pencil in the car.
No, this is just a little Saturday morning rant while I wait for the electrician to finish installing the new electrical hookup for the new washer and dryer that will be delivered on Wednesday.
And, he's taking his sweet time. Been at it at least 90 minutes now.
I mean, I have places to go, people to meet, things to do.
I guess he must think the world revolves around him.
(Say, do you think 'Affluenza' is contagious, even if you don't have a lot of money? I mean, I don't have a minivan, but . . . .;~)