Monday, April 24, 2006
Good Old New England Weirdness
An important part of the New England personality is the ability to self-delude when it comes to the weather. Every year, Novemberishly, we all gape owl-like at each other and say, "We're supposed to get six inches of snow tonight! Can you believe it?!?" As though we've never actually seen this phenomenon in action before. Then there's a run on shovels and road salt and dirty movies, just in case we're snowed in.

Similarly, once spring rolls around, we're so brain- and nerve-dead after 14 consecutive months of snow and blizzards and slush and colors like blue and green on the weather map that as soon as the predicted (predicted - we don't even need the actual) temperature goes about 50 degrees, we convince ourselves that it's warm outside and we rush for the playgrounds, picnic benches and beaches.

And let me wholeheartedly 'fess up here, I partake of the same seasonal idiocy with the same awed, surprised, owl-like looks every year. It's tradition. We're big on tradition.

So, on Saturday, it was in the low 50s, and that meant that of course I had to get the kids outside. Two years ago, that meant sending Emily out back to play while I sat near the window and semi-watched her, but now that Jacob is mobile but not yet blessed with any sense of Darwinian self-protection, I have to go, too, at least until he figures out that face-first is not always the preferred method of slide descent.

We went to the playground at Emily's school, which is another one of those weird psychological quirks that I think most of us has: the school playground is boring and lame and uniteresting when we're there for recess, but if Mom takes us on the weekend, then that is just cooler than Lion King socks. (Not that we have any of those around here. But if we did, trust me, THAT would be the new baseline of Ultimate Cool.)

I expected us to pretty much have the place to ourselves, because all the cool moms grab their Ultra Double Mega Caffeine Laden Fat Free Beverage and convene at the playground on the town common. Which I do, upon occasion, but the fact that I don't drink coffee and don't follow Jacob around within arm's length makes other people look at me funny. At least, I'm telling myself that's why and would appreciate no further heckling from the peanut gallery. Anyway, so, there were two other people there - Mia and her grandfather. Mia is almost 8, and Emily just turned 6, but they got along beautifully, bossing each other around and pretending Jacob was the Baby Monster which they had to avoid at all costs - isn't it sweet how they include him in their games?

Mia's grandfather, well... I imagine he meant well. Within half an hour, I knew how many children he has (4), how many children his wife has (5), how many they have together (0), how old he is (80), and all sorts of other demographic, professional, emotional, sociological, personal and gastrononic details about Grandpa and everyone he has ever known in his whole life. It was one of those occasions where I really, really wished I'd had the foresight to fake deafness from the moment we arrived. And it amused me, because New Englanders have another reputation, for being somewhat laconic and buttoned-up... but apparently this one isn't 100%.

Though he did talk about the weather.