Friday, November 11, 2005

Bambina Populista

Another post from months ago that never got posted. Can you tell I'm doing some housecleaning?!:

You know me. I grew up po', as Oprah calls it. She says that there is "poor" and there is "po'." My family, we was po'. Gummint cheese handouts. Free school lunches. All three kids had jobs starting at 14 years old. One gift on your birthday, and it wasn't a bike. Blah blah blah. You know the sob story, which I didn't realize was a sob story till I went to college and saw 18 year olds driving cars my parents would never own and telling me about their "third house" in Newport. THAT'S when I realized I should have felt more deprived all those years ago!

As po' as we were, we were never on welfare because my dad would sooner have severed a limb and broiled it for food than taken a "handout from Ronald Reagan." My whole upbringing was steeped in working for what you had, living within your means, and a deep-seated disapproval for conspicuous consumption. True, I mostly hated people flaunting their name-brand "stuff" because I myself didn't have any stuff to flaunt. But it also spoke to, in my mind, a larger issue of that person needing name brands in order to feel important, which I found sad even as I secretly wished I could have sneakers bearing the Nike "Swoosh" rather than the Sears Roebuck "Sheesh."

Fast forward to early summer 2005. The bambina was given an adorable stuffed puppy as a gift. He is a Labrador puppy with a turquoise-blue ribbon around his neck. His name is Meyer, he is the love of her life, and woe betide me should I ever forget him when we go somewhere. More than once someone has said as we've rolled by, "Wow! What a fancy doggie!" Oookay. I would have said "cute" or "fluffy" more than "fancy" but okay, if that's the word that came to your mind... I had no idea what they were talking about until this past week when I finally clued in to what they were saying: the ribbon around Meyer's neck looks like the ribbon that Tiffany wraps around their gifts--that turquoise ribbon on their famous turquoise boxes. Aha. Now I get it.

So while some part of me figures I should be flattered that people think I'd only have the best stuffed doggies for my child, I am mostly feeling annoyed because all I can think is, "What moron would give a baby a toy from TIFFANY'S??!!"

Meyer has a weekly laundry date simply because he gets so chewed, drooled and sweat on that he reeks like a real dog left out overnight in the rain if he doesn't have that weekly visit with his cousins Arm and Hammer. What sane person would purchase a dog from Tiffany's (at Tiffany prices) for a wee drooly baby? And--the real, true origin of my pique--do I look like someone who would be that insane? I ate government cheese, people! I ate mason-jarred tomatoes from our garden all winter because Prego--and even Ragu--were considered too expensive! Do I look like someone who is burnin' the money on a Tiffany dog?!! You B**tards!

So I got all wee-wee'd up about people jumping to conclusions and pegging my kid for some spoiled rich baby (can you tell I always thought rich and spoiled went together?), until I take a step back and look at her: She is sitting in her stroller, drinking (no-name brand) water out of an Evian bottle (because they have the easiest sport cap for her to drink through), while wearing her (given as a gift) designer dress--while clutching a stuffed puppy wearing a Tiffany-blue dog collar, while banging on her pretend (actually, a broken) BlackBerry.

Ronald Reagan is sitting somewhere smiling.


misterfed said...

Abby has an extremely expensive baby blanket as her comfort object. It now looks like something that a homeless hurricaine victim has been using to catch rainwater and ward off looters. No one has called it fancy in living memory. She howls when it goes for a bath. In fact, we now threaten to wash her blankie as behavior modification.

Evan's comfort objects used to be stuffed elephants from the John Lennon "Imagine" baby line. They are threadbare and abused elephants now. He's switched his love over to a stuffed dachshund that someone gave my mother when she was ill. Its name is Barkley.

In the past, one of Evan's favorite toys was a plastic Jack Daniels bottle that my mother-in-law gave him to play with when we visited their house. Or, as I call it, a Tennessee Rattle.

Joe Tornatore said...

my mom was po. they would have used teabags twice but they couldn't afford them to begin with.