Hey Jerk! Use Your Freaking Turn Signal!

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

The other day on my way home from work, when I was a block away from my house, I pulled over and called my son Jake, who’s back from college for the summer. I asked him to come out to the front porch and check if my left-hand turn signal light was out. He emerged onto the porch as I pulled up, and turned two big thumbs up as I tested first my left-hand signal and then the right one. “Both working,” he assured me when I got out. “What’s up?”

“Some jerk pulled right out in front of me at the four-way stop at Wilson and Franklin,” I told him. “I absolutely had the right-of-way, and I had my left-hand turn signal on. And he still nearly plowed into me. I figured the light must be out.” Because, really, why else would somebody almost drive into my car like that?

Jake shrugged. “I don’t know what to tell you. He was an idiot, I guess.” Read more »

What Does My Kid’s Apartment Say About Me?

Illustration by Alexander Purdy

Illustration by Alexander Purdy

I’m standing in an aisle at HomeGoods, holding a spoon rest. It’s a pretty thing, bright orange, shaped like a sunflower, and it only costs $3.99. I don’t happen to need a spoon rest, and anyway, my kitchen’s red, not orange. But my daughter Marcy’s kitchen has one orange wall. This would look perfect in it.

I’m pretty sure she doesn’t have a spoon rest. She doesn’t have a lot of stuff. She and her husband, Basil, are just a year out of school now, working their starter jobs, living in West Philly amidst hand-me-downs and thrift-shop buys and found-on-the-street reclamations, the way most people do at that age. They’re perfectly happy, but I know Marcy would like to have more — to have nice things. They will, someday. Meantime, I’m buying this spoon rest for her.

For most of my life, I wasn’t much of a shopper. Who had time to mosey through HomeGoods, what with the Girl Scout troop and PTA projects and going to field hockey and football games? I look back on those years and marvel — where did I ever get the energy to keep up with it all? These days, with the kids gone, I’ve got plenty of time to fill up. I have a regular circuit on weekend afternoons — HomeGoods, T.J. Maxx, the great little thrift shop in town.

My widowed dad took to shopping once we kids were out of the house, too. I thought it was a little weird, then, that he’d drive to Macy’s or Strawbridge’s by himself and wander through. He always had a mission, something he was comparison-shopping for, checking out prices: a window fan, maybe, or a new vacuum. He bought himself a lot of shirts.

I understand the impulse now. It’s something to do to keep yourself busy, a way to pass the hours between Phillies games and mowing the lawn. There’s another mom I know, a teacher from Marcy’s high school. We seem to have the same circuit; I run into her all the time on my shopping trips. She, too, is always buying stuff for her grown daughter. There’s something furtive in the glances we exchange, in our rushed hellos. We recognize in one another what we won’t admit about ourselves: We’re over-engaged but don’t know how to gear down.

To read the rest of this story, buy the August 2014 issue of Philadelphia magazine, on newsstands now, or subscribe today.

I’m Pre-Gaming My 40th High School Reunion

shutterstock_hello-my-name-is-940x540

I spent some of this weekend trying to book a table for nine for lunch next Saturday, which turned out to be a lot more complicated than I thought. It seems a lot of places in my old hometown are only open for dinner on Saturdays. And that was a problem because my best high-school friends and I want to pre-game our high school reunion.

Well, not pre-game in the current college-student sense, as in “Get stumble-drunk before we even get to the party.” We’re not the drinkers we used to be, frankly. (And a couple of us never were drinkers at all.) But we want a chance to be able to talk and catch up without unfamiliar faces coming up to us in the dark and offering us hugs. (Note to reunion planners: You can’t read name tags in the dark.) It’s not like I never see my old high-school friends. A group of five of us have been getting together just about every year, sometimes with spouses, sometimes with moms, sometimes with kids, sometimes just by ourselves. We still get along, still make each other laugh and cry, just like we did when we were wearing hockey kilts, or “white shirts, dark skirts” for choir and band. Read more »

The 10 Stupid Internet News Stories I Keep Reading

Shutterstock.com

Shutterstock.com

The news of the world as brought to me via the Internet tends to be a roundup of humans doing seriously stupid things. And you know what? As I read through the stories that such forums as Gawker, Jezebel, Philly.com and the Huffington Post see fit to dish up to me, I’m beginning to feel an inescapable sense of been there, read that.

Didn’t I just see this same story a few days ago, in some other publication? Isn’t this the third time this month I read that same damn thing? I mean, how many times are you people going to drop shit off subway platforms and then jump down onto the tracks to get them? When another one of you does that, it isn’t news. It’s just déjà vu all over again.

And for this, I’m paying $460 a month to keep every member of my nuclear family tied to the Internet at every waking moment? Think of all the fun stuff I could do with $460 a month if I weren’t giving it to Comcast and Verizon.

Which gave me an idea.

The following is a brief list of Stupid Stuff You People Keep On Doing. If you stop doing these stupid things, there won’t be any news, and the Internet will close down, and I can use my $460 a month to go to Tahiti. So hey, what do you say?

1. Stop punishing women for breastfeeding in public. Oh, no, you didn’t actually do this again, did you? At a country music concert? Oh yes you did. Read more »

The Great American Picnic Has Gotten Awfully Complicated

picnic

So between this weekend and last weekend, I had 50 people over for picnics in my backyard, gathered around the grill and waiting to be fed. It may seem like asking for it to throw cookouts for two straight weekends, but the way I saw it, if I was going to really clean the house, I might as well take advantage of it.

The first group was of co-workers, a bunch of bright and lovely young people. The operative word there is “young.” Since Bob Huber toddled off the masthead, I’ve become the eldest member of the editorial staff at the mag—and hell, I’m not even all that old. I figured it would be nice to have everyone over before I, say, drop dead. Read more »

« Older Posts