January 30, 2006

The Playground

I had a nice, bonding week with Olivia, Liv, Livvy, Livvy Liv, Chick, Chicker, Sweet, Sweeter. I finally found a good park to take her to. We might be half-broke but our neighborhood borders Beverly Hills. Most of our neighborhood parks are filled with nannies and rich wives. The parks are big too. I learned that if the park has too much space, people are inclined to be distant from each other. The park I went to is pretty small, it feels part of a community.

It’s still an L.A. park so one day I had a three hour conversation with this person, while our kids played together. He was on "Hill Street Blues" and other TV shows. More interestingly, he was an NFL running back for the Minnesota Vikings in the 70s and played in two Superbowls. I may rail against celebrity, but really I’m a starfucker. It just interests me--someone who’s been on that large a stage. The man was handed a ball by Fran Tarkenton in front of 70,000 people to be tackled by 300 pound men. Every play is like a bar fight, but they just get up and go back to the huddle. He said that the adrenaline is running so high that you feel nothing until the game is over. Interesting guy--spitting tobacco, railing against Nicole Richie for being a talentless drug addict, how NFL players today are all showboaters. I feel sort of wrong about immediately blogging this. We had a decent conversation and writing about it seems like a breach of confidence.

On Friday, the park became overwhelmed by uptight parents. People are waiting too long to have kids. Older parents are so professional about their kids, like the kids are a project. No one at the park seems to be our age. I’m a young 33 and my wife is in her twenties. The moms talk in this false higher register: "Hudson, Bradley, Jackson, do you want to play with Madison?!" I’m not the first to note that people are naming their kids with last names, like they’re trying to create a new repressed aristocracy. They sound like pets’ names. I don’t know what these kids are going to turn out like but they’re already sort of neurotic at 2 and 3. The parents are always on top of them telling them how great they are that every time they go down the slide, they’re looking around for their parents for validation. I heard more than one parent say to their kids, "Now, honey, let’s not be silly" when the kid went down the slide two at a time. The kids were smiling and laughing but the parents were nervous that it was dangerous. It is a sort of tragedy if "silly" comes to mean "scary." And not even unsafe, but scary to the parents’ overbearing sense of well being.

Criticizing other parents is one of the great pastimes of being a parent. Which is probably why they’re so uptight. They act like they’re always being assessed--i.e. they’re more worried about how they look than being with their kids. They are never being themselves. I’m generalizing, but I’m right.

On Saturday at the park, this person was there, who my wife tells me is in the tabloids a lot because she’s a lesbian who’s adopted a child. There she was with her partner and baby. Also this person. TV people, not anyone crazy superstar famous. I can recognize a celebrity by the back of the head. My grandfather once said that celebrities had no affect on him whatsoever--they’re just like anybody else. I think this is impossible and I think he was lying.


Anonymous said...

Your grandfather was somewhat celebrity-obsessed. He boasted about spending time with producer Sam Spiegel's secretary aboard a cruise ship. That his mother was friends with actress Lili Palmer's mother. That he graduated in the same class as Omnibus producer Robert Saudek. Etc. Basking in reflected glory was one of his minor vices.

He would have beamed with pride over Je Suis du Bon Cote.


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