Tuesday, April 13, 2010

We're Not Friends. We're (Play)Dating.

I met my friend Scarlett and her two kids for a playdate last week. As usual, I was ten minutes late, and she was on time. I was all flustered and apologizing while unbuckling short people and unfolding the stroller. And she was all sweet and Southern and charming and only mildly annoyed at being trapped in her van with her kids for ten minutes.  She's awesome - beautiful and smart and acerbic and polite at the same time...

I love that about Southern Belles. They can let you know in the sweetest way possible that you are close to pissing them off and you'd better start minding your manners. I am from New Jersey. So I need to get schooled in that stuff. It's like all these Belles went to some secret girl school that taught them how to handle any social situation with grace and tact while I flail around embarrassing myself. I need to find out more about that school. And see if I can enroll my daughters.

In any case, while I was apologizing for being late again, she sighed and said jokingly: "It's fine, honey. I'm used to being taken for granted!"

To which I replied: "What are we - dating?"

And she said: "Yes. We're play-dating. You didn't think we were friends did you? That just figures. I'm in this relationship all by myself."

And then we both giggled and giggled.

But oh snap... She's right. We're not really friends. The evidence is indisputable. The only time we see each other is on play-dates. The only time we talk or email is when we're arranging play-dates. We really like each other and our kids get along like gang-busters, which is why we get together every couple of weeks. And frankly, if we didn't have such a good time cracking jokes and gossiping while the kids played, the kids wouldn't be playing together at all. So, oh my gosh. I totally have a girlfriend and we're play-dating.

What will I tell the Cap'n?

I called him at work right away (which he just loves), as it was clearly urgent, and told him what I had discovered (that I had a girlfriend). After reminding me that he was busy doing important things like earning the only income that supports our entire family, he laughed at me and then cheerfully suggested that Scarlett and I go to Vermont and make it legal.

I do not always find the Cap'n amusing.

So I thought about it and here are my very special and important insights. Think about it, mommies. You may have a girlfriend too. And guess what? If you're play-dating - you're not friends - and therefore, the rules are all different.

Need some examples?

If I'm late:
Friends: Lydia is such a d-bag, she's always late. That's why I tell her 4:30 when I really mean 5:00.
Play-dating: Lydia is being inconsiderate. My children are having to wait and that is unacceptable. Why didn't she call or text me to let me know?

If I forget my wallet at Dairy Queen:
Friends: Lydia is so going to buy me like ten Venti Ralph Macchios, pick up my kids from school tomorrow and make me spring rolls for this. This manager of the Blizzard Bank charges crazy interest.
Play-dating: I'm uncomfortable with this. What if she doesn't pay me back and it happens again? What if she was doing this to test me? To see if I would take care of her?  She knows play-daters go dutch.

If I show up at a play-date and the baby is drooling, red-faced and coughing:
Friends: Good GAWD, is that kid cutting another molar? What is she - a shark?
Play-dating: It is common courtesy to call and tell me that one of the children is sick, so that I can make an informed decision about exposing my family to whatever the sickness is.  Everyone knows that.  I think even germs know that.

If I show up at the play-date and I'm weepy and ridiculous:

Friends: Oh for Pete's Sake. Did you hear Sarah McLachlan on the way over? How many times have we been over this - don't let the iPod choose. The iPod thinks it's funny to make you cry. You're an idiot. Here's a diaper wipe - blow your nose.
Play-dating: Lydia may be mentally unbalanced. What the hell was she talking about 'the iPod made her cry'? Did it fall on her head?   Did she fall on her head?

If I randomly call her up and suggest meeting at the playground in ten minutes because I'm bored:
Friends: "Giddyup. I'm bored too." or "No way, Jose. My kids are being good and I'm reading UsWeekly. Catchya next time."
Play-dating: Don't just assume I'm available because you suddenly feel like hanging out.  Also, why are you calling me one day after our last play-date?  You're needy.

If I read (but don't even respond to) the thirty text messages I get during the playdate:
Friends: Oh Lord. The Blog will friggin' survive for the two hours we play at the lake, jackhole.
Play-dating: It must be very important for you to keep checking it like that. Compulsively. Obsessively. Oh how nice. You've put the phone down. For now.  Will all our play-dates be like this?

So after thinking more about this, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that I don't actually have a girlfriend. The good news is that Scarlett and I are obviously friends, given that she knows I'm very, very special and keeps hanging out with me anyway. Yay for me!

So then I thought, what do I tell the Cap'n? He thinks I have a girlfriend and now I don't.

So I called him right away and told him not to worry because I actually didn't have a girlfriend and we were really just friends, which was great and really a big relief for me because you have to be on your best behavior when you're dating and that is really difficult because it takes a lot of effort and that kind of effort can become so tedious.

*crickets*

Did you hear me? I don't have a girlfriend! We're just friends!

Then he told something else he thought was tedious, and I suffered a minor loss of dignity and told him to suck it five times. Then he said something stupid like me making the point for him, and he was "in a meeting," and I was "on speakerphone."  I just hung up because he obviously doesn't understand anything.  Like creating important new vocabulary words.

So isn't it great that we have friends? And some sometimes even girlfriends that we (play)date? Because they are mommies and not daddies (or husbands or boyfriends or fiances), and they get that some things are clearly important. Like the discovery of (play)dating. That Scarlett, my friend, and I invented.

So peace out, mommies. I have some playdates to schedule.

xo, Lydia


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