Read The Suburban You Online

Authors: Mark Falanga

The Suburban You (21 page)

This evening, you go home and have sex with your wife.

A week after the Kids First fund-raiser, where you discovered that the thin, in-shape, tight-pants- and short-tight-shirt-wearing Kids First president wears thong underwear, and after doing so were able to so brilliantly engage her in a lengthy discussion on the topic, you attend a birthday party for some friends of yours, a couple, who are both turning forty that month. This is a fun, informal fortieth-birthday party where alcohol is being served, people are
standing up at a microphone to share their feelings about the forty-year-olds, and everyone knows one another. It is a good time.

You are talking with John, a friend of yours, about skiing, one of your favorite topics and his, especially when it involves Jackson Hole or Telluride, and out of the corner of your eye during this ski/snowboard/Telluride/Jackson Hole discussion you see Lynne, your Kids First president. She is wearing a skin-tight fitting outfit, no VPL, and her flat tummy is exposed. From afar, you become curious about her conversation, whatever it might be about, and you prematurely conclude your ski conversation with John to “go get a refill,” even though your glass is not empty. “Excuse me,” you say to John, “I'll be right back”—knowing that you are going to continue the thong-underwear discussion that you started only one week ago with Lynne, the Kids First president, who is off-duty tonight. You do not expect to see John for the rest of the evening.

You see that Lynne is holding an almost empty margarita glass, a good sign, you think, that your conversation with her will be more interesting than any ski talk.

On the way over to the professionally staffed bar, you just happen to walk by Lynne. “Oh, Lynne,” you say as spontaneously as you can, given the planning that went into this encounter. “How are you doing?” She is talking with two other people and she sort of breaks away from her conversation with them to talk with you, or that's what you think, anyway. You give Lynne a knowing smile, like you are sharing her thong-wearing secret with her, and she looks at you with a “Stop smiling at me like that, you creep” expression.

Your main interest in talking with Lynne at this moment is to rekindle the intriguing conversation that was so abruptly ended at the school fund-raiser last weekend.

Explaining the smirk that is on your face and trying to open the door to the last and most interesting conversation you have ever had with Lynne, you ask, “So, Lynne, tell me, are you wearing a thong tonight?”

She looks at you and she does not smile. In fact, her facial expression changes from carefree to concerned or puzzled; no, make that pissed off, like you said something entirely inappropriate, or like you did not pull over to the side of the road to let her pass. “What are you talking about?” she asks, in a manner that suggests you have offended her. You laugh, knowing that Lynne is just goofing you, but her expression does not change and she is really pissed off. You can tell that she is not messing around.

“Lynne, do you remember our conversation at the Kids First fund-raiser on Saturday?” “You were there?” she says, in a surprised manner, adding, “I didn't see you there. Wasn't it so great this year?” “It was terrific,” you reply. “In fact, it was the best Kids First fund-raiser that I have ever attended. I learned so much about the management of Kids First.” “We raised $260,000—isn't that incredible!” Lynne exclaims. “It has been such a rewarding year to be involved with Kids First. We made a lot of great changes this year.”

In your peripheral vision, you see John and excuse yourself from Lynne. You quickly make your way back to John. “So, John, isn't Corbet's Couloir one of the hairiest runs that you have ever skied?”

Your friend, neighbor, and baseball co-coach, who is a Hollywood screenwriter, writes and has published a letter to the editor in your local newspaper, a newspaper that is circulated to subscribers that reside in your suburb and the wealthier suburb to the immediate north of your suburb. His letter to the editor, like the Christmas cards this guy writes, is very funny. It is filled with funny stories that support his basic premise that a two-week winter school vacation is way too long. Over that period the kids start driving everyone crazy. He writes that it has gotten so bad that he gives each of his kids $50 and sends them off on their bikes to a shopping mall that is twenty miles from where he lives, just to get them out of the house. He is, of course, joking, and you laugh when you read his letter. In your mind, it warrants a thoughtful response, especially after you heard that some people had called him, upset, thinking that he was serious and that he was really starting to drink more.

One morning at two o'clock you wake up out of a sound sleep with an idea for a response to his letter. Your idea is to write what a great vacation you had with your family because you did so many worthwhile things with your kids. You hyperbolize, like you have throughout this book, about things you did over the vacation and write about them in a way that you think is very funny. That next evening, you type this letter into your computer, print it out, and read it to your wife, who is usually fairly reserved when you read to her all the funny e-mails and thank-you notes that you write. She laughs uncontrollably. She has sex with you that night.

The next morning, Saturday, you tune it up, print it out, and while on your run you drop it off at your friend's. You choose
to submit it to the editorial department of your suburban paper because you are not sure that everyone who lives in your suburb will understand your humor and you don't want to expose yourself in that manner to your entire suburb, like you have here.

When you return from your run, your friend and his wife are on the phone with your wife. You don't realize this at first, but then your wife hands you the phone. They are laughing and tell you that they thought your letter was funny. To you, this is a big compliment. Your friend has written a bunch of big-time Hollywood movies; he is a neighborhood celebrity; he knows funny writing, and he is on the phone complimenting you on your letter. His wife concurs. They moved to your suburb from Hollywood. They are your friends. And you have made them laugh with something you wrote.

You e-mail a lot, mostly because you have a portable device called a Blackberry, which allows you to send and receive e-mails anywhere. Frequently you send what you think are funny e-mails. Sometimes people even tell you that your e-mails are funny (but not as often as you write them). You even compile a book of your funniest e-mails at the end of the year and give it to your friend-boss. He tells you they are funny, and his wife has told you repeatedly that you should write a book of travel stories, because you travel a lot and some e-mails that she has read, that you have written, make her laugh.

You think on that and the next day, which is a Sunday, you start to make a list of humorous events based on your life in the suburbs. For each instance, you think of a story and you start laughing. You start writing these stories down, and as you do so, you exaggerate them, and laugh some more. They come easily and seem to pour out of you. To you they are as funny as the events you described in that letter to your friend. One reason you think that these situations are so funny is that your stories are told from a guy's perspective, a perspective that is often neglected in your suburb.

The next day, Monday, you travel to New York. You return on Tuesday and on Wednesday you are off to Montreal. You have been writing since Sunday, when you have the time, like from 4 to 6:30
., and 9
. to midnight, and you think that this book idea of yours is materializing. It is jelling. It is happening. It's yours.

You arrive home from Montreal and pull up to your house at 5:30
. in the car that usually picks you up at the airport. You walk in the house and like many times when you enter a room that your wife is in, she seems startled. This puzzles you, but she is happy to see you and you are happy to see her.

As you are taking your coat off, your wife informs you that she has an idea. This is an introduction that you have heard before and an introduction that usually ends up costing you money. It is the same introduction that initiated the $1,600 kids' bathroom ceiling painting project. You exercise the active listening skills that you learned when you were a Camp Tamarack counselor and say, “You have an idea, honey?” She says, “Yes, I have an idea. I was thinking that we can write the book together.”

You dwell on this surprising thought of hers for a minute or two before you respond. First, you cannot think of one book with which you are familiar that was written by two authors. Second, you have an image of this book as being your own project, one of the few things in your life that you can call your own. Third, your idea is to make sure that the guy's (
) perspective surfaces in the book; that is one of the reasons why this book will be funny. You have visions of what it would be like writing a book with the same woman who has redecorated your front hallway entryway table in such a way that you can no longer find your Blackberry, keys, cell phone, and wallet and that every time you need to look for something you must search through five clasped ornamental boxes that sit on the entryway table, one of which has been turned backward because your wife didn't think that the front of it was attractive. The same woman who wants to attach herself to your project has relocated your running shoes to a place that you, in a million years, would have never thought of, because one day she did not think that they looked good in the place where you had kept them for the preceding 1,780 days.

You know your wife well and know that she had given this idea of coauthoring your book a lot of thought. She has also considered how she would approach you so that you would be most receptive to the concept of her coauthorship. She wants in. She wants your book to be her book too. She does not want to be left out.

She notices your hesitation to verbalize your thoughts and feelings, which is a common hesitation each time you are asked to express your feelings. She adds, “I just thought that it would be a fun and romantic thing that we could do together.” To which you quickly reply, “If you are looking for something fun and romantic that we could do together for the next several months, why don't we just have a lot of sex?”

She tells you that she is overly tired and is tapped out from the demands that the kids place on her all day long, or at least when they are not in school seven hours each day. Emphatically, you tell your wife that you know that she has an important job with the kids and that you understand why she doesn't want to have sex. You know that if you had to deal with the demands of your kids from 7:30 to 8:30 every morning and from 3:30 to 6 every evening, with the rest of the day all to yourself, that you too would be too “tapped out” to have sex. She has a demanding job, you know.

You look at your wife and say, “Honey, I would love to work with you on this project, but this is something that I really have to do on my own.” She says, “Well, it was just an idea.” You do not have sex that night.

THE SUBURBAN YOU. Copyright © 2004 by Mark Falanga. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information, address Broadway Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Falanga, Mark, 1958–
The suburban you / by Mark Falanga.—1st ed.
p. cm.
1. Falanga, Mark, 1958–                  2. Suburbanites—United States—Biography.
3. Suburban life—Humor.                  I. Title.

HT352.U6F35 2004

eISBN: 978-0-7679-1966-1


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