Archive for October, 2007

Halloween is supposed to be pretend scary, not real scary

October 31, 2007

Images Halloween is supposed to be about cute little ghosties and witches and saying boo, it’s when the kids swarm the streets and the adults pretend to be scared.

What it’s not supposed to be is really scary. My child is not supposed to come home from school with the news that a kid in his class got hit by a car and is in the hospital (concussion and lots of broken bones, but she’ll be OK). I’m not supposed to get a letter from the high school reporting on a high school kid getting kidnapped on the way home from school (and finally breaking free an hour and miles away) and assurances that the police will be out in full force this Halloween night. What is going on around here?


Tween tarts for Halloween

October 29, 2007

<p><a href=”http://”><img width=”150″ height=”189″ border=”0″ src=”; title=”00150540detaila” alt=”00150540detaila” style=”margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px; float: left;” />
</a>My kids usually get pretty creative for Halloween. My 16-year-old boy is going as Tony Soprano. My 9-year-old boy is going as the ipod guy–all in black from head to toe, with an exaggerated ipod cord (piece of white rope with two cotton balls on the ends) hanging from his ears.</p>

<p>Then there’s my 12-year-old girl. She’s at the age when life is all about fitting in, and Halloween is about having a costume that’s different enough to be special, but meets the criteria that the unseen tween gods have set for this year.</p>

<p>And for 2007, that would be the tween tart.</p>

<p>I had a little warning; a friend told me she and her daughter ransacked the Halloween store racks for something that wasn’t too provocative, and came up with a sexy mummy, skirt’s short but not as short as some. WTF? Sexy mummy? But I reserved judgment until I got to the Halloween store myself…</p>

<p>…and discovered that all the costumes in the girl’s 10-14 size range were in a special section called <a href=””>Wicked Innocence</a>.&nbsp; And while the details differed, they all involved tight bodices, cinched in waists, and </p><form></form><p>short stickout skirts; think French Maid or porno schoolgirl. My
daughter could be a witch tween tart, an Alice in Wonderland tween
tart, a Dorothy tween tart, or a firegirl tween tart. She could be a
superhero tween tart, a nurse tween tart, or a punk tween tart.


<p>This was fine by her; she’d already got the memo, she knew her
Halloween costume was going to involve the shortest skirt she could
wear without breaking dress code.</p>

<p>She was leaning towards the witch tween tart costume, but it was way
too short and she definitely would have gotten dress coded; plus the
cheap polyester fabric gave her the chills. </p>

<p>“Mom,” she said, “let’s make my costume.”</p>

<p>I was all for that. So we went to Joanne’s Fabrics and poured over
the pattern books. Simplicity, Butterick, Vogue—they were all right on
top of the 2007 trend, they had all the teen tart costumes. </p>

<p>She settled on a pirate tween tart. <a href=””><img border=”0″ src=”; title=”3687t” alt=”3687t” style=”margin: 0px 5px 5px 0px; float: left; width: 129px; height: 196px;” /></a>
I hesitated. This pattern was super complex—a multilayered dress with
yards and yards of trim, a bodice and peplum with lining and
interfacing and grommets; I can sort of sew, but I’m no expert. “Come
on mom, it’ll be a mother daughter bonding experience.”</p>

<p>OK, she knows what buttons to push. We bought three kinds of fabric,
four kinds of trim, elastic, eyelets, and an eyelet punch (this project
was getting expensive, I kept telling myself it would be a learning
experience) and spent an entire weekend putting it all together. To her
credit, she worked like a demon; she cut out all the pattern pieces,
she did every stitch of the bodice and peplum herself (while I
struggled with the slippery dress fabric), she hand-sewed trim for
hours. Finally, she tried it on.</p>

<p>I immediately grabbed it back and added four inches to the bottom of
the skirt; she may be a tween tart on Wednesday, but she’s going to be a
dress code appropriate tween tart.</p>

A case of drastically lowered expectations

October 17, 2007

I flew round trip cross country last week. Both ways on jam-packed flights. Both ways on the same airline (United); practically the same flight, only one number different in the flight I.D. But I flew with different crews. Dramatically different crews. And what a difference a crew makes.

On the roughly six-hour flight east, the flight attendants made two passes down the aisles.  On the first, I got a ginger ale to drink with the sandwich I’d purchased at the airport; I declined the opportunity to pay $5 for processed cheese, crackers, chips, and candy. On the second, I managed to hand off my drink cup; they said they’d come back for the bag from my sandwich. They didn’t.

I did see the flight attendants again—I got up to go to the bathroom twice, each time, I watched them sitting in the galley on jump seats, drinking coffee (hello, some of us passengers are ready for coffee right about now, ya think you could share?), chatting about their grandchildren. They were perfectly friendly to each other.

At one point a very very tall man excused himself as he passed me, said he wasn’t cutting in line for the bathroom, just finding a corner to stretch his legs. He worked his way around the jumpseats and coffee

cups and stood between the bathrooms. He stuck out a leg and tried to lean into his cramp.

“Sir!” said an outraged flight attendant. “You can’t do that here!”

“Uh, sorry.” He moved to the other side of the bathroom and spread his legs a whole two feet apart.

“Sir! This is not a gym!”

He went back to his seat.

Later, the woman next to me made her own bathroom run. Since she’d been
hanging on to her empty drink cup for several hours, she took it
with her, figuring since she was heading to the back of the plane
anyway, she’d give it to the flight attendant to throw in the trash.

She came back with her own story.
“The flight attendant told me they weren’t collecting garbage and
refused to take it. I left it in the bathroom on the counter, there
were already seven or eight cups stacked up there.”

That wasn’t the last of the let-the-customer-fend-for-himself attitude. When the flight attendants emerged
to “prepare for landing” one made an announcement. “If you brought a
newspaper on with you, take it off, we won’t be collecting it.” If
they’d asked nicely, I might have. But at this point I was desperate
for a small rebellion. (I had wanted to mouth off when they were being hard on the tall guy, something along the lines of "If you get a blood clot and sue them I’d be happy to be a witness," but I had resisted, figuring I didn’t want to get escorted off the plane in handcuffs). I tucked my folded newspaper under my seat.

So I was looking forward to my next flight even less than usual. But
things were different. First, these were not flight attendants with
lots of seniority (maybe that was the problem on the first flight, they
remembered when being a flight attendant was glamorous work, which is
why they refused to do garbage collection). It was a crew of guys,
young guys, a melting pot of races. And I never saw them sit down. They
did at least two full drink services, then came around other times
offering coffee. They cruised the aisles frequently carrying trash
bags; the moment you finished a drink, or closed up your empty
deli bag, they reached for the garbage. They were all about collecting garbage. They even announced at the end of the
flight that they would be passing through the aisles to collect
unwanted newspapers, just in case we didn’t notice. And, instead of a crowd that landed cranky and got
crankier as we cruised the tarmac for 40 minutes hunting for an open
gate, they ended up with a group of passengers that laughed when the pilot, on
the P.A. system, asked how we’d liked that tour of the airport.

And yeah, having had the low-service flight just days earlier, I really
appreciated what I used to take for granted as normal service. So the
grandmas are doing these young guys a favor by setting the bar for "good" service very very low, though somehow, I don’t
think that’s their intent.