Did you hear the one about the housewife and the pool boy? Or maybe the one about the gorgeous mom who fell in love with her daughter’s son? Or the work-at-home neighbors who left their husbands and moved in together? Oh wait, I know, how about the super-hot wife who has an affair with the teenage gardener?
I jest. Mostly. But I’ll admit to hearing stories, even while we were still house hunting, about illicit encounters between local mothers and neighbors or soccer coaches or that manager of that restaurant that closes mid-afternoon. What I didn’t hear as much about were the men. I guess that’s nothing new, or just not as exciting to talk about. You’d think with classics about ladies like Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina and Mrs. Robinson that it wouldn’t be all that shocking to hear about women making questionable judgment calls.
So, why is it news? And while I use the term lightly, when a mainstream site decides to pay attention, I just have to take a look. And when Montclair is mentioned (isn’t it always?), I don’t just skim. But I also don’t believe everything I read, and apparently I’m not alone, Dana over at Baristanet agrees.
Of course it’s not just a New York thing. When having dinner at a pub in Montclair, New Jersey, my girlfriend, a local, started pointing out patrons she knew who were at the bar cheating on their spouses. They were all parents and none of them seemed to be looking over their shoulders. Later she introduced me to a couple with kids who decided to make their marriage an open one after the wife’s affair with a neighbor was exposed.
Perhaps it’s not so hard to see how some of this happens. To save money on sitters, it’s often just one parent who goes out. After a few rounds at the bar, mom might start to actually feel a little on the single side. And her susceptibility to do something nutty might correlate to the challenging — even desperate — day she had.
So understanding of her to give desperate mommies an out. Would she be as forgiving if the genders were reversed? The author, Shanon Cook, is responding to two-week old post on The Awl, which sounds like a hazy recollection of Sex and the City painted with a 50 Shades of Grey brush. Titillating!
I don’t know. The whole MILF label being a compliment, the glee with which people rejoice in mothers falling off the edge, the raised eyebrows when the mother of an infant chooses (or plans to choose) to return to work right away doesn’t feel comfortable to me. Admittedly, I’m an optimist when it comes to expecting people to live and let live. But more and more, I think I’m just oblivious to the need to believe those around us lead scandalous lives.
And yes, I doubt that we all aspire to be admired like Stacy’s Mom, as described in the Fountains of Wayne song, even if we do live in New Jersey.