[While ordering lunch to go at a pricey little place near my workplace, I hastily scribbled nuances onto a napkin and reworked it later that day. Written sometime in the colder months of late ’07.]
There is a coffee shop that sells specialty sandwiches made with ingredients like applewood smoked turkey with cranberry chutney on pumpkin seed bread. You can buy this with a side of couscous salad and a two-dollar bottle of water flavored to taste like peach with zero calories. The parking lot is filled with row upon row of next year’s model of the latest Land Rover – perfect for maneuvering the flat, exquisitely paved country roads. Around 2:00 the men who work in the area have gone back to their offices and the place fills with the “ladies who lunch”. Women in their 40’s and 50’s with bodies taut from hours spent playing tennis or horseback riding. Their faces drawn into shiny masks from too many Botox injections framed by perfect little helmets of hair. They look down their hawked noses as they place their orders: “we’re splitting the roast beef special and we’ll be sharing this juice” as they pluck their Coach wallets from their tiny Coach clutches. They are earthy in an upscale way. Goosedown vests over $500 jeans. Shoes that cost well over my monthly salary.
They have an air of entitlement that follows them like an overdose of the most recent fragrance from Givenchy. Old money, new money – it all reeks and if there are class lines drawn between the two, I certainly am in no position to distinguish them. Private school tuitions have earned them the title of “housewife” or “stay-at-home-mom”. This title comes along with at least one housekeeper, a groundskeeper, and a nanny for each child. I stand in awe of their ability to look you up and down while appearing not to actually notice you at all. I am a floor lamp, a coat rack, a hook upon which they can hang their disdain.
The Town Where I Live:
Is just a few miles down the road. It is, in fact, the next town over. The McMansions give way to Home Depot, fast food chains, a trailer park here and there. Our apartment sits on a busy street framed by other two or three or more family houses. We are flanked by convenience stores. Our neighbors wave and toast you with a Bud Light as they sit on the steps on a Friday night. We all order pizza from the tiny strip mall several doors down. The cars are jacked and loud. The kids are happy, barefoot, and run in one house and then back to another.
We sit on the porch, drink beer, smoke cigarettes and talk about life. Families all live close by. The air is constantly filled with music streaming loudly from passing cars and open windows. This couple is gay. That girl rents with her cousin. Those two have a great dog who likes to jump you when you take the trash out to the curb. That guy gets visitation from his three kids every other weekend.
The Laundromat is always full on Saturday mornings. The Mexican restaurant that we’ve been meaning to try sits next to the Brazilian Market. Our town is a melting pot. And if you go to the local coffee shop — which is almost always a Dunkin Donuts — you get nothing but a smile with your order. Hold the judgment.