Saturday, August 28, 2010

despicable me

So, I'm on the train coming home from CCfB brunching and this family of four settles in 3 seats down from me. The older kid, a girl, between 2 and 3 is my guess, reminded me of Clare--all garrulous and girly, she was. And at first, for say, a good three minutes or so, I really enjoyed getting a sense of the family dynamic. A sorta crunchy mom, with a bag full of farmer's market produce and 7 mo. old babe, a quiet dad, a curious toddler. The first thought I had was, wow, that mom interacts with her daughter like I do with Clare--on a good day. Encouraging curiosity, conversing with her, lots of teachable moments, lots of silly wordplay, even, yes, silly impromptu song-singing.

Then I thought, okay, that mom is like me--if I were really extroverted, loud, and on speed.

Then I thought, okay, this lady is annoying.

But the thing is, she really was like me. I mean, eerily like. As in, even our favorite colors are apparently the same. And her pet peeves about punctuation misuse. And her penchant for using outsized vocabulary with her toddler ("I'm a pedant," she says. Pedant?!)

So I spent the rest of the train ride home pondering how I could recognize both this woman's similarity to me and her annoyingness. Do I annoy myself? Do I secretly think that I'm an annoying person? Is there a kernel of self-hate buried deep within my psyche?

This didn't seem quite right. Sure, I'm as screwed up as any GRITS but I do love myself pretty sincerely.

So finally it hit me: what annoyed me about this woman is the same thing that annoys me about any group of obnoxious teens on the subway--that pseudo-unself-conscious performance of the idealized self for the benefit of the audience within earshot. I'm not part of her family. I'm not supposed to be the target audience for the performance of super-smart-crunchy-mommyness. But me and everyone else around me were co-opted into it, just like you are when giggly gaggles of teenagers are oh-so-nonchalantly proving to everyone who can hear how cool they are. Blurg.

Anyway, that's my best guess. And I suppose the take-away for me is to make sure I don't over-perform my own pedantic-ecofriendly-breastfeeding-feminist-super-PhD-mommy self in public places for people who would really like to be able to sleep on their train.

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