I just heard myself and realized I am precisely the kind of jackass that I would make fun of if I overheard her speaking to her children.
Here is an example of why:
“Cookie, please don’t let Birdie eat that food from the floor.”
Really? Cookie?….Birdie? Did some waspy, old-school bitch from Greenwich possess my body at the country club buffet? Seriously, I have no idea where those nicknames came from. Even worse is that I have no idea why they stick, but they do.
Back when Gwen was still cooking away in my belly, Dave and I kicked some names around. Payton was high on the list. I really liked Payton. That is, until the day that Dave and I were in the Chestnut Hill Mall and overheard a waspy, new-school bitch from Newton hailing her spawn. “PAAAAAAAYTON, Paaaaayton. Come see Mommy, Payton.” At first it was difficult to understand her because of her locked bottom jaw. She was also speaking through her nose. It took a moment, but I realized that she was using one of our ‘maybe’ names.
I’m a people watcher but that day, I stood, mouth agape and stared at the woman who embodied exactly what I didn’t want to become. There and then I vowed that I would never morph into a 30-something woman who frequents the Chestnut Hill Mall with her designer babies and a nanny in tow. You’ve seen her at any number of upscale shopping malls. She’s the one who lounges on the couch outside of Bloomingdales/Neimans/Nordstrom in a Juicy Suit and Tory Burch ballet flats. She silently critiques the other women who pass by. She very obviously performs a dismissive once-over and a sneer while chatting on her iPhone and completely ignoring her infant. Do I need to mention that she always has the latest Bugaboo baby stroller and her baby is likely swathed entirely in Burberry or head to toe Oilily?
Payton was hastily scratched off of the list as I stood watching that woman as if she were some rare species of animal.
So here we are, four years later with two little girls who have perfectly nice and carefully chosen names. Nothing off the wall and nothing unpronounceable, but there’s that issue of the nicknames. They must have started somewhere around the time that I riding a doped-up, post c-section euphoria because I don’t remember the genesis of either moniker. I just know they were my creation. Back in the days when were spent our days at home, the nicknames were okay. House confinement meant that the names were private. That is, until the social obligations of my children required that we all leave the house together.
Last year I stood in the library of our tiny New Hampshire town at story hour and called out, “Cookie, get down from that table right now!” The (abnormally silent) mother next to me with the kids who didn’t speak or move, simultaneously jumped and rolled her eyes. She then turned and looked at me as if I was the most ridiculous ass in the history of ridiculous asses. My first inclination was to flash her one of my signature filthy dirty looks. Then my eyes moved to her poor, semi-comatose children pointlessly writhing around on the carpet and I decided that it just wasn’t called for. She had enough to contend with.
However, I did immediately recognize from her eye roll and wary expression that to her I was “that” woman. To the lady with the comatose kids I was the Juicy clad, new-school waspy bitch who had just rolled into town from the city. I shrugged my shoulders and told myself that her opinion meant nothing. After picking some lint from my Juicy sweat suit, I pulled our Maclaren stroller from the rest and began to walk home. On the way, we passed the General Store. I asked Birdie and Cookie if they wanted a lollipop and marveled about how comfy my ballet flats were.