Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Taxi Mom

Peggy and Baldy, on a recent trip to Europe, rounded out their trip with a visit to Baden Baden, our last residence in Germany before we went (as I then naively imagined) to the Land of the Cowboys. They observed, among many other things, grade-school children going home—and not a Mom in sight. Okay. Check. That hasn’t changed. Indeed in the Land of the Cowboys it was pretty much the same when we arrived—except that we saw a huge amount of neon but no cowboys at all. In 1951 the past-3:00 p.m. traffic jams (middle schools let out at 3:17, elementary at 3:38) were still in the future; suburbia still in the womb. Now that school has started here, its time to re-adapt. Congestion of certain busy arteries is now in force as the latest in fancy SUVs stand in endlessly long rows—so that children actually must walk, sometimes a whole (shudder) block, to find Mom staring at her smartphone behind the wheel. The curious thing is that quite a few children still do walk, both to and also from school. Significant distances. I know. I’ve observed them. Have not yet changed the times of my walks—which give me views of about six schools of various gradation. And some may also be found waiting for the bus, believe it or not, the Municipal, not the Yellow kind. “Soccer Mom” has gone out of style; I don’t hear the phrase used nowadays. It needs a replacement. “Taxi Mom,” however, is sort of a perennial.

Peggy and Baldy? Peggy Jenkins married Boldizsár (Balthazar) Darnay, my brother. And in the Land of the Cowboys this man, with plenty of healthy hair all over his head, got renamed gradually. Balthazar was too difficult for the products of our vaunted educational system. It didn’t help exactly that we in the family, products of the vaunted European educational system, had trouble enough with Boldizsár ourselves so that we called him Boldi long before we arrived. Baldy and I both have odd first names. Arsen? The name was far too long for one of our friends going back a ways. She always called me Arse.

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