Sunday, March 16, 2008

"You Can't Spit Without Hitting a Bugaboo?" Try Me....

An article on the front page of Saturday's Boston Globe by Sarah Schweitzer about the recent South End baby boom elicited several e-mails from friends as well as a feeling of nausea that still persists. According to the article, the "happening" South End is now experiencing an increase in new mommies and their offspring - well, let's just say rich white yuppie mommies carrying $320 Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bags (no relation to a "Petunia Pickle Bottom" who might have frequented the South End circa 1994).

Even worse: Garden of Eden has cordoned off a section for stroller parking and the Globe included a photo of four yuppie moms and their adorable babies sitting at the very same G.O.E. table at which I frequently dined with my closest friends and experienced some very romantic dates several years ago. (Note the absence of any minorities in any of the 12 Globe photos. Perhaps the "mommy and me" cafe groups don't actively seek out or even know any minorities, or, shockingly, perhaps the minority mommies in the South End actually have to work for a living and can't sit in a cafe all day nursing their babies and macchiato's). One mommy quoted in the article says that there are "so many people here now with children that just because you have a baby does not mean you have to move out of the South End." That's right - you can now freely put your creature comfort yuppie needs before the needs of your child.

And when its time for these kids to start school, I'd bet that none of them will enroll in a South End public school.

Another yummy mummy explained that now, "you can leave Cheerios under the table and the waitstaff never seems to mind." The hell they don't! An informal poll of a few friends who are servers in some South End restaurant/yupporiums has revealed that NONE of them agreed with that statement. Not long ago, I had the displeasure if sitting next to a table of about 3 toddlers at a normal adult dinner time at Picco. By the time the meal was finished, the table looked as if a some combination of fingerpainting class and drive-by shooting had taken place.

Baby food, tomato sauce, apple and other juices, Cheerio's, and god knows what were smeared all over the table and on the floor below. Not only had three adults taken over a table for six while at least a dozen people waited on a busy weeknight, but when they left, three servers had to spend a considerable amount of time wiping down the table and floor to get it presentable for the next party. None of them looked pleased; in fact all three of them looked disgusted. Of course the yuppies left the table without making any effort to clean any part of the mess they made, two of them even laughed about the situation as they walked away. The entire rhythm of the restaurant was disrupted as the entire waitstaff was forced to ignore the diners and clean the mess. The entitled parents were oblivious to the extra work they created for the serving class and also to the desires of the other patrons to dine in a peaceful manner. (Kudos to Flour Bakery and Cafe for not allowing strollers as they take up most of the customer space in the smallish customer area).

Making matters worse was my biggest yuppie mommy pet peeve: putting a diapered baby on a restaurant table. I should add here that I unequivocally love babies and children. Anyone who knows me well knows that I will make a beeline for any baby and that holding a baby is one of my favorite things to do in life. I do not, however, love entitled parents. And there is something about placing a diapered baby directly onto a table or a Starbuck's counter that makes me want to strangle the clueless parent.

Also not long ago, on a Saturday night, I was dining at a very special pea-shoots-and-heirloom-truffle-oil Washington Street restaurant with friends. We heard some whining coming from the drowsy-eyed children at the next table, whom I would assume to be about 4 or 5 years old. The kids weren't screaming, and they probably could not be heard beyond our table. When I looked at my watch, I realized that it was about 5 minutes shy of 11 pm and that the parents, oblivious to their children's needs, were not even on their main courses yet. No wonder the kids were whiny and cranky. They needed to be sleeping at that hour. But the heat-seeking parents, in their trendy clothing (yes, the mom was wearing Uggs) obviously felt that their need to spend a Saturday evening out trendsetting outweighed the welfare of their children. Maybe they couldn't find a babysitter. "Why should we have to stay in?" I could hear them say. "We deserve to go out on a Saturday night!" I was tempted to call DSS but I refrained. Your kids deserve to sleep like normal children.

But I digress. My favorite part of the article was where a yuppie South End mom complained about a parking ticket she received one day when she left her one-year-old strapped into the car while she double-parked and ran her groceries into the house one winter's day. Upon receiving a $45 parking ticket, she exclaimed "that's not family-friendly."

You know what's not "family-friendly?" Leaving a one-year-old in a car alone in the South End. In fact, I think it is cause for DSS involvement. For how long was that mom dropping off her groceries if a meter maid, who presumably was not there when the mom pulled up, had the time to find the car double parked and write a ticket?

In the interest of full disclosure, I have over-protective tendencies stemming from my own childhood. Typically, as a child, I wore a snowsuit through July and was not allowed to swim within 24 hours of having eaten anything. Personally, I would be too afraid to leave a child unattended in a double-parked car in the South End for fear of, say, crime or a traffic accident or myriad other unfortunate possibilities. I think a reasonable parent would have brought the baby in first, put the baby in a crib, and then brought in the groceries. But that's just me. Of course I also do not feel entitled enough to double-park in violation of traffic codes and possibly endanger the lives of others should there be an emergency and then complain about the ticket I received because the entire world does not revolve around me.

Also, some of the mommies or yuppies or whatever in the article complained that in the "winter, when the parks and outdoor cafes are not an option, . . there are few large spaces where parents can gather and small urban homes can make large playgroup gatherings difficult." Imagine - all that granite, maple and stainless steel isn't child-friendly? Your pseudo-artist's loft doesn't provide enough child-friendly space? Maybe, just maybe your needs don't coincide with the best needs of your children.

I have a friend who has three young children and lives in a nearby suburb of Boston. Horrified, she e-mailed me the Globe article and explained that she could have lived in a $2 million South End condo. But when she had children, her priorities changed. She and her husband actually decided to put the well being of their children before their own needs. "I didn't want my kids playing in dog shit," she told me. "I wanted them to live in a place that was appropriate for children. It wasn't the South End. I don't feel like I'm missing anything by not being there and my kids can actually play safely both indoors and out." Presumably, her need to dine at the latest trendy hotspot or purchase heirloom tomatoes was outweighed by the interests of her children. What a concept. Too bad the yuppies profiled in the Boston Globe haven't figured it out. I wonder how many of them contributed oodles of money to the new dog park, where dogs have plenty of space to roam freely? Introducing the South End: Where people apparently care more about their dogs than their kids.

I'm Still Here....

Rumors of my demise (at least from the South End) that surfaced in last week's letters to the editor column of the South End News are untrue. One of the Uppity Street yups who is vehemently against the proposed Pine Street Inn Transitional Housing on Upton Street and was quoted in the Globe's big story a few weeks ago as saying, inter alia, that "unlike you and me, its difficult to tell who these people are" thinks that this Blog is divisive (to which I vehemently agree).
He also apparently felt the need to spread a rumor that I no longer reside in the South End - according to him, I am two (2) men who live in Dorchester. Adding insult to what he must have thought was injury, "we" moved there due to escalating real estate costs in the South End.

Let me get this matter straight, no chaser: I am one man who resides in the South End. This despite the rising cost of real estate. And if people think that I am two men, well than I had better get myself to the gym a bit more often.

I have, however, been spending alot of time away from the South End as it kind of repulses me nowadays. I have learned to ignore the emperor's new clothes-type restaurants here and I've realized that the suburbs of Boston offer alot more interesting and less pretentious options - for dining and most everything else (although besides dining, the South End really offers little else of interest, but for the BCA and two remaining non-pretentious stores: the Motley ones and Aunt Sadie's). Also, practically no one I know lives here anymore.

And if insinuating that I had "moved to Dorchester" was somehow meant as an insult, at this point, I prefer Dot to the S.E. It still has interesting people, diversity, and quite a few non-pretentious restaurants. You can't even buy heirloom tomatoes there (yet)....