I pointed to the husbands on the side, watching their wives and wincing
July 13, 2012 8:45 AM   Subscribe

A new piece for the Awl, by writer Amy Sohn "The 40-Year-Old Reversion" satirizing the group of parents she parties with in Brooklyn, has sparked some pretty harsh criticism around the web, from scenester blogs, mainstream sources, and parenting sites alike. But others see it as a very useful lesson about contraception.
posted by Potomac Avenue (165 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
I remember Amy Sohn back when she was a 20-something columnist for the New York Press. Occasionally I'd check her column out, it always seemed so trying-way-too-hard attention-grabby.

Read a little of this. She didn't change.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:54 AM on July 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


This seems like a pretty worthless article and I'm saddened that we're giving more attention to it.
posted by Diablevert at 8:55 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


And, what do you know, Sohn also has a new novel coming out about this very phenomenon!
posted by absalom at 8:55 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


No, it's not courageous. It's an advertisement. A really bad advertisement in that I would prefer to have nothing to read for the rest of my life than Readers Digest and Marie Corelli novels (if you've ever read one you will know how low I am going) than to read this book based on that piece. I did read most of it before my sense of self-preservation kicked in, but I ain't going back for the rest.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:58 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Even more tons than a kid born to a less outrageously wealthy family, because this one will need a cell phone by age 3 and SUV trips back and forth to pony-sports practice. (Or whatever … I don’t know what rich people do.)

While I concur that access and education about contraception in the US is rather dismal, I see someone has never been to New York City.
posted by melissam at 8:59 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Awful people congregate. Film at 11.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:59 AM on July 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


I'll say this for Amy Sohn, I'm not sure I would read her novels, but this article does make me think she knows how to party hard. If I had a kid I would raise him to act and look exactly like Andrew WK so I'm sympathetic to her cause.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:59 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Should I quit my job? Have another child? Divorce?—by behaving like a bunch of crazy twentysomething hipsters. Call us the Regressives.

Oh fuck. Not more hipsters.
posted by Xurando at 9:01 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Meh.
posted by diogenes at 9:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


If I never read another quirky essay by a privileged white person living in New York who delights in her specialness while thinking the world consists of lots of other people who find her fascinating...well, I'll have stopped reading the Awl, I guess.
posted by emjaybee at 9:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [55 favorites]


This is a sad story and reading about such sad people makes me sad.
posted by octobersurprise at 9:06 AM on July 13, 2012 [16 favorites]


Lots of parents do drugs. If they are poor their children get taken away for neglect.
posted by OmieWise at 9:07 AM on July 13, 2012 [70 favorites]


they're acting like yuppies, not hipsters. They need to get their shit straight. Also true hardcore bk parents bring their babies to their drunken wine and divorced dad hit-on fests
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:08 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


They say every generation thinks it discovered vice X, but now we have an overweeningly trite cadre of the bourgeois Park Slope set who think they've rediscovered these things for the first time!
posted by clockzero at 9:08 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]




I don't know Potomac Ave., Andrew W.K.'s whole thing seems to be about partying for the sheer joy of it. There's... very little joy in evidence here.
posted by Ragged Richard at 9:09 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


The problem is that writing about people who are happy, have fairly normal lives, don't use drugs, drink too much, cheat, or get divorced, is kind of boring.
posted by freakazoid at 9:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I guess if you have a shit marriage you may as well be proud of it?
posted by TheRedArmy at 9:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The self-obsessed will occasionally display self-obsession. Whatevs.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:12 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


One the one hand this is so boring I had to stop reading by the third paragraph. On the other hand if scenester blogs and parenting sites hate it (hives of scum and villainy if ever there were any) then maybe I should give it another chance.
posted by atrazine at 9:12 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Dammit, white well off Park Slop parents are supposed to drive their kids nuts with their over-intellectual tweedy bullshit and overly abstract rationalization for being superior ubermenschen while at the same time judging their precious, overprotected spawn for not being Just Like Them and excelling at Peruvian lute class.

Get your stereotypes together Brooklyn!
posted by The Whelk at 9:13 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Slope, I didn't mean to get all MAD Magazine there.
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Why not? The people in the OP seem like a bunch of schmendricks if you ask me.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2012


Go back to Hollyweird Whelker... or are you living in LonDUMB now ha ha ha
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


What is this garbage??? Why do the most annoying people choose to become writers?
posted by scose at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Some people don't grow up, they just get older.
posted by bonehead at 9:15 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


"Because everything our children thrive on—stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents—feels like death to those entrusted with their care."

No, I like those things. Those are, like, the good parts of being in my 30s.

I'm really bourgeois.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [28 favorites]


I wish extreme poverty on these people.
posted by Jeff Mangum's Penny-farthing at 9:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [15 favorites]


I read this yesterday.
“How do you know Ted?” asked a scruffy guy in his forties, as Ted stood opposite me.

“He’s my drug dealer,” I said.

I waited for eyebrows to rise.
Pretty much sums up the whole shebang.

I have no strong feeling about it either way, except for mild annoyance that a contingent of the over-35 set has decided that "hipsters" are the cool new thing the kids are being rather than the "we do the same things but you're a poser" putdown it actually is. Like in that Onion article.
posted by postcommunism at 9:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


We should all be extremely concerned about these rainbow parties that every single 40-year-old mother is attending.
posted by gurple at 9:18 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


As a 40-year-old mom and housewife all I can say is that her life sounds exhausting. The good thing about being 40 and married is that you don't have to do all that stuff anymore. My version of a wild party is dozing off in my recliner with a book and a glass of wine, and I think I'll be able to keep doing it until I'm 80 at least.
posted by Daily Alice at 9:18 AM on July 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


Why do the most annoying people choose to become writers?

Oh, the problem isn't annoying people choosing to become writers. More people have also made that choice.

the problem is that the most annoying people are the only ones who attract readers.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:22 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I rolled my eyes. Some people never grow up, and stay fascinated with the folds and tags between their legs. News at M-F 11.
posted by clvrmnky at 9:23 AM on July 13, 2012


Some middle aged parents didn't think things through and develop drug problems. The end.

I don't know how any over-40 parent can deal with serial hangovers. The solid trend since my mid-30s has been giving things up and it's not because I'm some sort of paragon, it's just so I can fucking cope.
posted by nanojath at 9:25 AM on July 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


Amy Sohn sounds like she's trying too hard to reach her style of cool.
posted by discopolo at 9:25 AM on July 13, 2012


And her style of cool is depressing.
posted by discopolo at 9:26 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I have never been more happy to not live in New York.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:26 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty sick of articles where women humblebrag that they're so transgressive because although babies grew in their wombs they still think about sex and have social lives and haven't taken up tatting or started wearing SAS shoes or whatever it is they're so afraid of. I mean, do what you need to do to keep on feeling like a desirable person, I guess, but the word "milf" was coined a long time ago, you don't need to prove shit to me.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:28 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


There needs to be a way for marriage-minded straight men to avoid women of this type. Like how a single woman can tell when she's been approached by a PickUp Artist because she can now recognize negging and all that bullshit. There needs to be a way to know that you're in for a life of eventually not being enough of a story to tell her friends unless you're being cheated on like that's a kind of rebellious fad instead of a hugely devastating betrayal by someone who is completely self-obsessed.
posted by shmegegge at 9:28 AM on July 13, 2012 [44 favorites]


Hundreds or maybe dozens of wives of Mefites will get flowers tonight for what the husbands say is no reason. There will be a reason. The reason is we read that article are fucking thankful that we didn't marry somebody like Amy Sohn.
posted by COD at 9:29 AM on July 13, 2012 [41 favorites]


I have never been more happy to not live in New York.

There are like 9 million people here and only like...1 million of us have annoying columns, so
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:30 AM on July 13, 2012 [45 favorites]


Do a bunch of stuff to party when you're in your 20s

Pretend to mature in some way by having a steady career and a kid and a marriage

Feel unfulfilled at 40 and, lacking creativity, try doing the same stupid shit you did at 20. Without the excuse of naivety and youth, the true soul-sucking nature of it is obvious. However, it's a release from your soul-sucking life.
posted by mikeh at 9:33 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


drunken wine and divorced dad hit-on fests

hey now you leave the meetups out of this
posted by Sokka shot first at 9:33 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


This article is effective birth control for me.
posted by brand-gnu at 9:33 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Since when do we need a new word for "Mid Life Crisis"?
posted by The Whelk at 9:34 AM on July 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


♫ What a draaaaaag it is getting old... ♫
posted by Blue Meanie at 9:34 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Do a bunch of stuff to party when you're in your 20s

Technically, I still have time to do this.

but I won't! Hah!
posted by postcommunism at 9:34 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Makes you want to join the Tea Party, bash liberals, and become Baptist.
posted by Postroad at 9:36 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is anyone acting like parents/40-somethings JUST started acting like this. With enough scouring, you could probably find a very similar article for every decade going back to the 50s.
posted by thekilgore at 9:36 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]



I'm pretty sick of articles where women humblebrag that they're so transgressive because although babies grew in their wombs they still think about sex and have social lives and haven't taken up tatting or started wearing SAS shoes or whatever it is they're so afraid of. I mean, do what you need to do to keep on feeling like a desirable person, I guess, but the word "milf" was coined a long time ago, you don't need to prove shit to me.


It has a lot to do with the hatred of and contempt for moms (and to a lesser degree contempt for dads-qua-dads) in our culture - in this instance, internalized hatred. "Mom" is basically a punchline or a complaint - as a culture we're either making fun of mom for wearing "mom jeans" and for being old, etc etc or we're whining about awful and demanding mom is if she asks for a little of our time or attention. I think this makes it really difficult for women to grow up and become mothers - until we're actually ourselves mothers, we absorb all these negative stereotypes of mothers, and then it's a real head-trip (or so I gather) to actually become a mother.

I say this as someone who struggled through a lot of internalized mom-phobia and difficulty identifying with my own mother up through my early thirties.

Of course Amy Sohn is writing this article about mothers who yearn not to be treated like mothers - she's making her peace with society's misogyny and hatred, trying to live with it instead of fight it.
posted by Frowner at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [52 favorites]


The good thing about being 40 and married is that you don't have to do all that stuff anymore. My version of a wild party is dozing off in my recliner with a book and a glass of wine, and I think I'll be able to keep doing it until I'm 80 at least.

When things get really crazy, we pull out the boardgames.

/35, no kids, still too old to go out past 11 most nights
posted by jb at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


From the contraception article:
You would think people with multiple children would be responsible about contraception because they understand the financial and emotional toll of childrearing. Instead they are as clueless and blasé as teens, teens who really don’t know any better … In the 90s we did “everything but intercourse” because of AIDSphobia. Now we do it because of laziness.
Actually, the marginal cost of a second child is probably far less then the marginal cost of a single child. I think that's why you'd see people who already have kids not worry as much. Adding an additional child wouldn't affect their lifestyle at all. All the sacrifices you've already made will still apply. Babysitting for 2 kids costs the same as babysitting for 1 kid. My guess is they probably want more kids, or don't care all that much.
posted by delmoi at 9:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It has a lot to do with the hatred of and contempt for moms (and to a lesser degree contempt for dads-qua-dads) in our culture - in this instance, internalized hatred. "Mom" is basically a punchline or a complaint - as a culture we're either making fun of mom for wearing "mom jeans" and for being old, etc etc or we're whining about awful and demanding mom is if she asks for a little of our time or attention. I think this makes it really difficult for women to grow up and become mothers - until we're actually ourselves mothers, we absorb all these negative stereotypes of mothers, and then it's a real head-trip (or so I gather) to actually become a mother.

This is an excellent point that made me re-think this entire thing. People are so harsh in judging mothers, the standards we hold them to, including our own. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Frowner.
posted by clockzero at 9:39 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


FTFA: The stoners came back with smug grins and then talked about how good the pot was, like if they didn’t talk about it, it wasn’t quite as rebellious.

Indeed.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:40 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It has a lot to do with the hatred of and contempt for moms (and to a lesser degree contempt for dads-qua-dads) in our culture - in this instance, internalized hatred. "Mom" is basically a punchline or a complaint - as a culture we're either making fun of mom for wearing "mom jeans" and for being old, etc etc or we're whining about awful and demanding mom is if she asks for a little of our time or attention.
I don't really think that's true, the whole thing with "your momma" jokes is that people get offended when you slag off on their moms.

Pretend to mature in some way by having a steady career and a kid and a marriage

Feel unfulfilled at 40 and, lacking creativity, try doing the same stupid shit you did at 20. Without the excuse of naivety and youth, the true soul-sucking nature of it is obvious. However, it's a release from your soul-sucking life.
You sound like a lot of fun at parties.
Like how a single woman can tell when she's been approached by a PickUp Artist because she can now recognize negging and all that bullshit.
Who do you think the pickup artists are picking up?
posted by delmoi at 9:41 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]



The good thing about being 40 and married is that you don't have to do all that stuff anymore. My version of a wild party is dozing off in my recliner with a book and a glass of wine, and I think I'll be able to keep doing it until I'm 80 at least


Late 30s here, and the vast majority of our hanging out with friends involves sitting on my front porch, watching cars go by, maybe drinking a glass of wine, and talking about all the dumb stuff we did when we were much younger. It has been the same group of us for 25 years or more.

If we're really in a wild mood, we go to a comedy show, have a drink, maybe two, and then go home before midnight. Maybe, twice a year we actually throw down.
posted by SuzySmith at 9:42 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Who do you think the pickup artists are picking up?

I would imagine it's women who don't recognize what's being used on them. Hence my use of the phrase "can tell" rather than "always do tell."
posted by shmegegge at 9:43 AM on July 13, 2012


I wonder how much of Amy Sohn's shtick is the keen awareness of the fact that people will read her writing specifically to feel superior to her lifestyle. If you're going to write about Livin' La Vida Bret Easton Ellis, you probably know why they sold so many copies.
posted by griphus at 9:47 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


+10 points for the Bright Lights, Big City quote.
posted by sevenyearlurk at 9:47 AM on July 13, 2012


Babysitting for 2 kids costs the same as babysitting for 1 kid.

Huh? Where do you live?
posted by gottabefunky at 9:49 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why is anyone acting like parents/40-somethings JUST started acting like this.

The only difference between Don Draper and Amy Sohn is dress sense.
posted by bonehead at 9:51 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Of course Amy Sohn is writing this article about mothers who yearn not to be treated like mothers - she's making her peace with society's misogyny and hatred, trying to live with it instead of fight it.

I agree completely with this, but I also think the article plays into the same misogyny that creates this issue in the first place. Insisting on being categorized as a whore rather than a Madonna still validates a worthless dichotomy. The way the article seems to equate a woman's sexual availability with her interestingness to others bothers me, too. Again, I don't think the author created those patterns, but the piece isn't helping anybody rethink them, either.
posted by milk white peacock at 9:53 AM on July 13, 2012 [12 favorites]


until we're actually ourselves mothers, we absorb all these negative stereotypes of mothers, and then it's a real head-trip (or so I gather) to actually become a mother.

Most notable for me was having a lot of people (usually men) treat me as asexual which has both upsides and downsides.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:55 AM on July 13, 2012


I don't really think that's true, the whole thing with "your momma" jokes is that people get offended when you slag off on their moms.

But people don't make "your mamma" jokes to mammas, they make them as part of a masculinity-challenge - with the insult to the mother primarily a proxy for an insult to the son, and with the suggestion that the family is a kind of property than men have to defend. This isn't the same thing is loving or respecting mothers in general.

I add that it is perfectly possible to love your own mother while still slagging off "moms". Your own mother is awesome and unique and wears 'mom jeans' because they are comfortable while she is out teaching her women's-self-defense course; "moms" wear 'mom jeans' because they are too clueless to know that they are supposed to be dressing differently. Your own mother wears platform heels because they remind her of her awesome youth night-clubbing with the members of Dr. Buzzard's Original Savannah Band in the seventies; "moms" wear platform heels because they are too dumb to know that they shouldn't wear anything sexy. Et patati et patata.

Also, it's perfectly possible to have this nationalist-screwed-up reverence for "motherhood" a la the anti-abortion movement while still acting with hatred and contempt toward actual mothers.

I think it's sad that Amy Sohn can neither do without drinking/drugs/night-clubbing nor engage in those things without hating herself and her peers. No one seems to get anything out of it then.
posted by Frowner at 9:55 AM on July 13, 2012 [17 favorites]


I can see these Moms in a decade or so, hand-wringing and agonizing what to do about their junior high kids getting into sex and drugs. "Where did we go wrong?"
posted by luckynerd at 9:57 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree completely with this, but I also think the article plays into the same misogyny that creates this issue in the first place. Insisting on being categorized as a whore rather than a Madonna still validates a worthless dichotomy. The way the article seems to equate a woman's sexual availability with her interestingness to others bothers me, too. Again, I don't think the author created those patterns, but the piece isn't helping anybody rethink them, either.

Exactly. She's living with it and not fighting it - fighting it could be any number of things, from not drinking and so on to living her life as it is but without shame, self-hatred and mockery of her peers. The article is reactionary/patriarchal/comprador precisely because it speaks with so much self-hatred and contempt and invites the reader to share in it. But that's the compromise - under patriarchy, the only way to drink/have sex/whatever when you're an adult woman is to drink/have sex/whatever while shaming and insulting yourself for it. As long as you articulate the values of the patriarchy, you can get away with doing a little bit of what you want - but then it's poisoned anyway.
posted by Frowner at 9:58 AM on July 13, 2012 [14 favorites]


they're acting like yuppies, not hipsters."

Hipsters are yuppies.
posted by klangklangston at 9:59 AM on July 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


I find it funny that the same women I used to pick up at The Brooklyn Inn and later Boat and Gowanus Yacht Club and Brooklyn Social are stil there! I should drop by and say hello!
posted by Ad hominem at 10:01 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, klang. The difference is obvious. Yuppies have nice apartments; hipsters have shitty apartments (albeit in trendy neighborhoods).
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:01 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Are yuppies mortal? Is Socrates a hipster?

There are so many questions.
posted by griphus at 10:01 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


I read this looking for the source for all the outrage but beyond the subtle classism of complaining about richer people and the weird way they call each other sluts and whores, the actual activities described sound like a lot of people I know in their early 40s, as they rediscover their adulthood once their kids get to 2nd grade or so and start being more self-sufficient.

It's also why I think a lot of marriages end in divorce, because the two parents have more time together for the first time in 8 years and realize they don't have that much in common any longer. The escapades described in this article sound like everything I've heard from my divorced and still married but still smoking pot parents I know. The bit about coke was about the only concept foreign to me.

I'm kind of surprised this article would garner so much attention, it didn't seem that edgy or crazy to me, and extra points to Frowner on breaking down why some people might be freaking out about it.
posted by mathowie at 10:02 AM on July 13, 2012 [16 favorites]


My sister and her family live in Park Slope and have been there since the 90s. I've met her (parent) friends. None of them are anything like this, or even know anyone like this. So either Amy's social group exists in a vacuum, or this article is bullshit.
posted by chowflap at 10:03 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Huh, I clicked on this thinking it might be an essay about how once you're a parent and your children are old enough to logically question your behavior, parenting skills and/or moral choices, lots of people end up regressing back to the super-conservative, religious, and/or "traditional gender roles"-based identities espoused by their own parents a generation earlier.

Sometimes, it's better to skim the comments here before you RTFA. :\

I mean, I already KNOW I hate Elizabeth Wurtzel's writing, and this is... well, more of the same. I get where she's trying to go with this, but it's really cringe-worthy and degrades her children, marriage, and herself in her attempts to sound like an empowered midlife woman.

On preview, Postroad, Frowner, Milk White Peacock: exactly.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 10:03 AM on July 13, 2012


Well, the nice thing about New York is that you can easily go to parties of a certain kind and totally avoid parties of another kind and they can both easily exist. So Amy's social group can be as wide as she claims, and your sister and her family can go to their own parties and both these things can happen on the same block for years and no one is the wiser.
posted by griphus at 10:04 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I gotta admit, I know a lot of people like this.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:05 AM on July 13, 2012


Because everything our children thrive on—stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents—feels like death to those entrusted with their care.

I spent my entire early 20's on a quest for those things, and when I finally got them, it didn't feel like death in any way. What I had before I got those things is what felt like death.
posted by cairdeas at 10:05 AM on July 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


(Well, at least until you have to yell at your goddamn neighbors to turn down the fucking Biz Markie album it is FOUR IN THE MORNING ON A TUESDAY YOU GODFORSAKEN ANIMALS I HAVE TO BE AT WORK IN THREE HOURS AND HONEY HONEY I NEED MY HEART MEDICA
posted by griphus at 10:06 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It has a lot to do with the hatred of and contempt for moms (and to a lesser degree contempt for dads-qua-dads) in our culture - in this instance, internalized hatred. "Mom" is basically a punchline or a complaint - as a culture we're either making fun of mom for wearing "mom jeans" and for being old, etc etc or we're whining about awful and demanding mom is if she asks for a little of our time or attention. I think this makes it really difficult for women to grow up and become mothers - until we're actually ourselves mothers, we absorb all these negative stereotypes of mothers, and then it's a real head-trip (or so I gather) to actually become a mother.

My first thought when I read TFA was how it played on a lot of mommy judgementalism, which is absolutely the thing in (some of) my circles. I don't know any blow-snorting, wine-weekending parents, although I know a few couples that split due to infidelity, which was preceded by looking at each other and realizing they didn't know each other at all. I can see why the parenting blogs hated it and I think that was part of the rise, for the purposes of bookselling, that she intended to get.

But then again I have no experience with that kind of circle and the wild and crazy parents I know play D&D on Fridays. Plus I have no kids, which means I don't have to rebel against parenting stereotypes. I go out on school nights and drink a little and it's not a big thing because I'm not a mommy and don't have to live up to the perfect platonic ideal of motherhood these folks seem to be rejecting.
posted by immlass at 10:07 AM on July 13, 2012


It's also why I think a lot of marriages end in divorce, because the two parents have more time together for the first time in 8 years and realize they don't have that much in common any longer.

Everyone and their mother (heh) warned me over and over again about how shitty non-monogamy was for the stability of a marriage. Conversely, the second I got married everyone was pushing me to have kids. LOL
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I must run in very different circles than mathowie. I am in my lower 40s and married with kids, as are almost everybody I know. Nobody, not a single person, acts like this. I find her characterization of post divorce parents a lot closer to the reality I see in suburbia.

Yes, we definitely re-discovered our social lives as the kids became self-reliant. We traded in dinner at McDonalds for a quiet dinner for 2 somewhere, maybe a movie, and still home well before midnight because babysitting for 2 kids ain't cheap.
posted by COD at 10:08 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Awl should hire Frowner to write next-day contextualizations of their popular articles.
posted by postcommunism at 10:10 AM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


I spent my entire early 20's on a quest for those things, and when I finally got them, it didn't feel like death in any way. What I had before I got those things is what felt like death.

I don't disagree with you entirely, but I will note that providing "stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents" is much different from having those things for yourself, and in fact sometimes providing a child with those things prevents you from having them for yourself.
posted by the young rope-rider at 10:11 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Dave Chappelle: "All that white people talk about when they get high is other times they got high."
posted by acheekymonkey at 10:12 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Wait, so having kids did not magically make Sohn and her friends better people? Amazing!!!
posted by snickerdoodle at 10:13 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


BREAKING: Hypoglycemic Twice-divorced Mormon Foster Parent In Bay Ridge Doo-Wop/Bebop Fusion Revival Band Angry His Lifestyle Hasn't Been Novelized Yet

"I'm pretty damn sure I'm the last subculture in bourgeois Brooklyn that hasn't been featured in a popular social realist slice-of-life novel or New York Times style feature," says K., the lead singer of as-yet-unhailed Coaster Cats, seated in a sparkly purple vinyl booth at the last upscale-comfort-food diner not yet reviewed in the New Yorker's Table for Two column, over a plate deconstructed meatloaf and a small sack of handmade sugar-free saltwater taffy, the makers of which are rumoured to appear in a cameo in Jonathan Safran Foer's forthcoming novel.

"Last week, the locavore pet store up the block was on the front page of the Styles section," says the disgruntled cornet-playing crooner. (See "In darkest Bay Ridge, a brightly lit haven emerges for Long Island-raised potbellied pigs," NY Times, June 29, 2012). "My foster kid's acappella klezmer band just filmed a party scene for Season 2 of Girls." He pops a naturally sweetened salted caramel swirl. "What about me, man? Where's my Lena Dunham?"
posted by gompa at 10:16 AM on July 13, 2012 [41 favorites]


Because everything our children thrive on—stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents—feels like death to those entrusted with their care.

I remember the morning I woke up in basic training at the age of 25. There was a moment of "fuck, now what the fuck?" then there was a moment of "well, I guess this is home" and then eight weeks of yelling and mind games from idiot drill sergeants and on to the next four years, really only realizing I needed to get out when I was 800 feet over a Ft. Bragg dropzone having just lost my helmet and headed for some trees thinking "fuck, now what the fuck?"

There were a lot of things that helped get me there, but the biggest contributing factor was really that I was just unmoored: I had wandered into a recruiter office a few months earlier out of curiosity more than anything, took the ASVAB because I wondered how I'd do, and let them pitch me. I'd seen Gwynne Dyer's "War" series, and the "Anyone's Son Will Do" segment had always stuck with me: I wondered what would happen to me inside that institution. And I was just unmoored, so they made a pretty good pitch.

I don't know if you get to a point like that if you already have a life of stability and routine. It seemed like all my friends were headed that way. I'd recently been on the business end of a divorce because stability and routine sounded stupid to me. My rebound ended with me living in a basement with no windows beneath three bro-dude lost boys because there was no way in hell I was going to admit that stability and routine might have been pretty nice after all.

So, the army and some really weird decisions after that for someone who nearly got thrown out for not singing baby-killing cadences. Basic training was easy, advanced training was idiotic and overlong despite supposedly being for people who did well on the ASVAB. So when the airborne recruiter came around, why not? It was just life, I hated mine, so maybe I could just lose it in an interesting and possibly romantic fashion. I went home on leave after jump school, and the best friend who'd never be the girlfriend introduced me to her new swain, and I appalled both of them with my sheer enthusiasm for maybe getting to get dropped on some unsuspecting third-worlders. "Fuck it. We're the hammer of the lord." Then Korea, which was really the best opportunity going for a soldier to get blown up or germed or gassed that one year. Then Fort Bragg. My first week there, a major in my unit shattered his leg on the drop zone and bled out before anyone could do anything for him, and a bunch of young guys said they didn't want to jump anymore, so they got their wings cut off their chest while the rest of us stood at parade rest and watched. There was no way I was going to go off jump status because, you know, whatever ... I hadn't signed up because I cared about myself to begin with.

So, 800 feet over the drop zone and about five months short and no helmet and thinking about how they warn you to cover your face with your arms if you go into the trees because you don't want to get speared through the eye. After a bunch of sort of shitty not-quite-girlfriend fuckups I was seeing someone and I liked her a lot more than anything I'd been up to for the three years prior, so as I drew level with the tree line I covered my face and gritted my teeth and feet and knees together and walked off the dropzone shaking. The reenlistment CEO came around with my packet a week later and I politely declined, so the battalion XO came around with an offer of his full support if I'd give OCS a try and I politely declined.

Me and the girlfriend got married a few years later, sort of paving the way for my son, who's now eight. There are a ton of tradeoffs. I don't get high, I don't really get drunk anymore. Time with friends has to be scheduled carefully. We have walked out of movies early because he's gotten bored, which just seemed unbelievable to me the first time it happened, because the only movie I have ever failed to finish in the theater was "The Firm." His first sleepover is tonight, and that'll be the first night he'll have been apart from both my wife and I since he was born. I doubt I've been away from him for more than 15 nights in the last eight years, because I've had to travel for work. I can't do exactly what I want anymore. I've got stability, routine and a lack of flux. That feels exactly like life to me. The other stuff was what felt like death.
posted by mph at 10:17 AM on July 13, 2012 [63 favorites]


My sister and her family live in Park Slope and have been there since the 90s. I've met her (parent) friends. None of them are anything like this, or even know anyone like this.

Neither I nor any of my friends and family have ever climbed Mt Everest so all others who have claimed to do so are lying!
posted by elizardbits at 10:18 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


5 years away from 40 myself, the red wine runs out just about 8pm, if I'm lucky. I'm in bed by 9pm so I can rise at 5am and get running before the real and serious heat.

I pass through Brooklyn Heights, into Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens. I can smell the laundry and mothballs coming from the windows that are open.

I'm running past all these sleeping sad people, I guess.

After the canal, just before entering Park Slope, I pass the coffin factory.
posted by dyobmit at 10:22 AM on July 13, 2012 [10 favorites]


The good thing about being 40 and married is that you don't have to do all that stuff anymore. My version of a wild party is dozing off in my recliner with a book and a glass of wine, and I think I'll be able to keep doing it until I'm 80 at least.

When things get really crazy, we pull out the boardgames.

/35, no kids, still too old to go out past 11 most nights


I'm 25 and my girlfriend (aged 24) and I just congratulated ourselves last week for staying up until 12:30 to watch a third episode of The Wire before we went to bed.

On a Friday night.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:22 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


It doesn't stop at 40 either. Beleive it or not you can meet 50 year olds out at a bar at 4 am trying to feed you xanax and hitting people up for drugs. It is like every generation thinks they invented something new.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:25 AM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


See, I don't know if it's what Sohn is writing about that sits wrong with me; it's how she's writing about it. There's just this underlying tone that no matter what she's talking about, she's twisting it just as far as she thinks she needs to, pushing the envelope just far enough, that she thinks we'll react. If she were talking about D&D players, she'd be telling stories about how her BFF got a little too into character one time, you know, and they had to hide her in the bathroom when her mom came home and trying to give her some kind of half-assed intervention to remind her that she wasn't an Elf Lord or something. If she were writing about the locavore lifestyle, she'd be talking about how she and her friends looked down their nose at each other over whether 250 miles away from New York was acceptable or 100 miles away might be even better. If she were writing about convents she'd be discussing the more extreme forms of self-penitence she and the other sisters got up to.

It's kind of like -- you know that scene in Lost in Translation with Anna Faris as the dippy actress Scarlett Johansen hates but Giovanni Ribisi is intrigued by? And you know that scene where they're at the hotel bar with her and she's laughing and carrying on and suddenly she gets this really fakey-looking serious face, and says that her father was bulimic because he was a prisoner in Cuba during the Bay of Pigs and got used to having been forced to throw up? And it just smacks of being something that she thinks will garner sympathy but she doesn't even know that she's pushed it too far and it sounds ridiculous? That's kind of what I feel Sohn is always like. She may think she's trying to square societal views with motherhood with her own self-image or something, but it really just feels to me like she just wants people to look at her and is exaggerating things to do it, and she has always done so.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:26 AM on July 13, 2012 [22 favorites]


I live in Los Angeles and I know groups of parents who like to go out, drink, smoke a joint or two, sometimes go to clubs etc. I wouldn't say it's the norm but it's definitely one of the choices you can make as an adult in a big city.

There's really nothing interesting about that, although then again the reaction of so many people here giving their own, opposite lifestyle choices examples makes me wonder if this actually is interesting to some people, even in an "wow isn't this obnoxious?" kind of way?

Makes me wonder-- who is the target audience for the book? Moms who like to take xanax and drink wine, or moms who don't?
posted by cell divide at 10:32 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't doubt that these people exist but I get the feeling that Amy Sohn was the kind of kid who used to have two sips of beer at a party and spend the rest of the night going around exclaiming "I'M SO DRUNK" to anybody who would listen
posted by theodolite at 10:34 AM on July 13, 2012 [28 favorites]


Having forwarded the article to various individuals in a position to know these things, I have been told that she has apparently not changed in any demonstrable way from high school.
posted by elizardbits at 10:36 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alright, obviously these people could exist. But to imply that whatever her friends are doing is part of a major neighborhood trend is a serious overstatement. There Have Always Been Assholes (tm).
posted by chowflap at 10:39 AM on July 13, 2012


No fair, theodolite, you just said what I was trying to say in way fewer words!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:40 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whenever I make a snide remark about "are there no workhouses?" and the like, mangling the original for the sake of whatever context I am using, I'm not referring to the poor.

I'm referring to Ms. Sohn, and the people like her.

So: are there no workhouses? Is not the treadmill in full vigour?
posted by aramaic at 10:43 AM on July 13, 2012


There's no such thing as "major neighborhood trend." There is, however, plenty of journalism (of varying accuracy [I'm looking at you, NY Times Style Section]) done on things that a bunch of people do. There hasn't been a time parents haven't been cheating on one another, smoking pot, doing blow, being obnoxious and so on and so forth.
posted by griphus at 10:44 AM on July 13, 2012


Pieces like this just make me miss Erma Bombeck, because I miss someone who could write about how marriage and parenting are sometimes hard and frequently absurd, but without turning it into a navel-gazing reassessment of every choice in one's entire life.

It seems like the only things on offer these days are MOTHERHOOD IS PERFECT AND ANYONE WHO SAYS DIFFERENTLY IS AN ABUSIVE HARRIDAN, MOTHERHOOD IS AWFUL AND I HAVE LOST MY SELFHOOD TO IT, or MOTHERHOOD IS MY BRAND.

Sometimes it would just be nice to see women with varied and interesting lives, who are wives and mothers, talking publicly about their generally happy lives and their frequent frustrations, without happiness having to be strained ecstaticism and without frustration having to be an existential crisis. Most of the mothers I know exist in that middle place, where they are mostly happy and satisfied with their lives, but struggle with frustrations and fears like anybody else. I wish motherhood in the media wasn't so polarized.

I really did have a student in one of my philosophy classes object that I was too bourgeois to teach philosophy because I'm happily married with two children and two rescue cats and own a house and do conventional things in my free time and don't really want to read Infinite Jest, and I laughed because it's true, and I like my bourgeois life, but it doesn't mean I don't have an inner life and it doesn't make me uninteresting or unthoughtful. But I guess mostly-happy families, being all alike, don't garner clicks. But I only have so much interest in reading about either women who hate being mothers, or women whose sole identity is motherhood. I wish those weren't the only options on offer.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:45 AM on July 13, 2012 [30 favorites]


She makes her lifestyle sound so dreary. Is that deliberate? Is she trying to make squares like me feel more satisfied with our lives?
posted by Area Man at 10:46 AM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


But to imply that whatever her friends are doing is part of a major neighborhood trend is a serious overstatement.

Yes, exactly. This isn't a trend so much as it is a bunch of people who have always acted like twits continuing to act like twits.
posted by elizardbits at 10:50 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The reason is we read that article are fucking thankful that we didn't marry somebody like Amy Sohn.

Eh, speak for yourself. I think she sounds fun.
posted by josher71 at 10:54 AM on July 13, 2012


I wouldn't say it's the norm but it's definitely one of the choices you can make as an adult in a big city.

What gets me is Sohn's attitude - she's looking down her nose at people who don't make the same choices that she does. A lot of her lifestyle apparently revolves around ridiculing other people, which works for stereotypical popular kids in high school, I suppose, but looks increasingly patheti-sad as one gets older. There's also something about that article that makes me wonder if Sohn exists when no one is watching her, when she's not performing.

I think this article is Brooklyn's - or Silver Lake's, or Bucktown's, or a dozen other hipster neighborhoods - version of the man going through a mid-life crisis, desperately trying to hold on to his glory days of football and keggers, with a sports car and hair implants. I'm very sure there's a male version of this article to be written, too. Maybe even an episode of "Portlandia" - the aging hipster, wondering why his too-small Shins t-shirt doesn't fit so well over his growing paunch.
posted by jhandey at 10:59 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


“How do you know Ted?” asked a scruffy guy in his forties, as Ted stood opposite me.

“He’s my drug dealer,” I said.

I waited for eyebrows to rise. They didn't.

Our eyebrows fell.

At first subtly. At first our eyebrows merely drooped, but then our swelling eyeflesh fell to cover our eyes themselves. Before we could react, all of the flesh on our heads began to grow and heave over our faces, our screams buried as burbles under the wet, hideous flapping of an unstoppable skin avalanche. Our open mouths sewed shut from strands of undifferentiated tissue, our screams stifled by the betrayal of our own hideous bodies.

We shrieked. We fought. But, attempts to tear the flesh away merely entangled our fingers. They grew webbing and tentacles and further useless growths still. Then our arms mutated as well, as loose flaps of skin and blubbery leather jiggled and shook.

We were flesh-colored cartoon ice cream cones, gibbering and screaming in the cool Gowanus air, our bodies congealing together to form an ineffable Cronenbergian monstrosity. And as the flesh combined in a chaos of swirls and tendrils, the symphony of our squeals and screams and protests and angry, fearful, painful-sounding farts came to an end. All that was left was the faint, wet stretching sound of flesh melting into flesh, and then the occasional bubble of liquefied matter simmering in the summer wind.

As humans had risen from the primordial soup, we had devolved into the same.

We are the Regressivists.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:00 AM on July 13, 2012 [28 favorites]


...the cool Gowanus air...

Now you're just making shit up.
posted by griphus at 11:03 AM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


miserable lives of miserable people written by a miserable author... meh
posted by caddis at 11:03 AM on July 13, 2012


These people need goddamn hobbies.
posted by fleacircus at 11:04 AM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Sticherbeast, I think with a little polishing, you can turn that into a New Yorker story.
posted by cell divide at 11:04 AM on July 13, 2012


It's like Joan Didion and Hunter S. Thompson had a daughter.
And she grew up and started to write.
In the worst way possible.
posted by THAT William Mize at 11:05 AM on July 13, 2012


It's like Joan Didion and Hunter S. Thompson had a daughter.

One of my first thoughts was that she was trying too hard to be Joan Didion, and failing because of the lack of depth.
posted by cairdeas at 11:18 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


People get married and have kids because they think that's what they have to do to be happy as adults. Then they discover that it doesn't make them happy. They could have avoided this trap if they had paid more attention to how miserable their parents were when they were growing up.
posted by dortmunder at 11:31 AM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


> Maybe even an episode of "Portlandia" - the aging hipster, wondering why his too-small Shins t-shirt doesn't fit so well over his growing paunch.

They already did this in S02E07. "A visiting motorcyclist gets Peter and Nance all revved up but leaves them feeling old and unattractive, so they decide to do something about it."
posted by Space Coyote at 11:35 AM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem is that writing about people who are happy, have fairly normal lives, don't use drugs, drink too much, cheat, or get divorced, is kind of boring.

Interestingly this article proved (to me, at least) that unhappy people are equally boring.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 11:37 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


This woman wrote way too many words about being Edina Monsoon in 2012.
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 11:38 AM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I found this entertaining. I can see why others might not like it, but I don't understand the intense negativity here.
posted by brain_drain at 12:01 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


This woman wrote way too many words about being Edina Monsoon in 2012.

You take that back Eddie is way more fun and has a better wardrobe.
posted by The Whelk at 12:04 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


If these spoiled women are that miserable and out of touch with reality, what are their children going to be like? Talk about never should have had kids!! I know poor single teenager girls that stepped up to the plate to raise their out of wedlock baby and become more mature and certainly more productive members of society compared to these spoiled wenches.

I couldn't finish the article. Made me gag.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:06 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


You take that back Eddie is way more fun and has a better wardrobe.

Duly noted. Lacroix, baby spew.
posted by last night a dj saved my life at 12:19 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Stoli! Bolli!
posted by cell divide at 12:23 PM on July 13, 2012


Shall we have the smoked salmon or just move on to the nibby things?
posted by The Whelk at 12:25 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Dear God,

If You provide me with the full-time job, financial security, and free time to enable me as a bored laissez-faire hipster regressive, I vow to Jesus I will not become one, and will buy my cat(s) the no more than third-fanciest canned food.

Love,
Unemployed twentysomething living with my retired parents to support my cat's middle-class lifestyle

P.S. This offer is also open to other interested deities.
posted by nicebookrack at 12:34 PM on July 13, 2012 [7 favorites]


Someone I know moved to Park Slope expecting to love it. She ended up absolutely hating the neighborhood. When I asked why (I personally don't hate PS, though I don't know if it would be the first place I'd go to if I were to move) she couldn't give me a more specific answer than "it's full of annoying fucked up rich people and their fucked up kids." I'm wondering if she was referring to some of Amy Sohn's friends and neighbors.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 12:50 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


She should move to the Upper West Side, people are strangely earnest here. My Neighbors are two doctors and their kids have an honest to god hoop and stick to play with. They swtiched to CFCs and gave me their old school bulbs two years ago and I still haven't had to buy bulbs.

The article is about people who grew up in Manahttan, went to the best private schools where they were surrounded by very wealthy people. They were raised on Eloise and Sex in the City. How all these people ended up in Brooklyn, when they should have moved to the Upper East Side is beyond me.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:59 PM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


These are the type of people who had their birthday parties at Serendipity II until they were 16.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:01 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and as far as ex-New York Press writers go, Alan Cabal did the over the top mid-life crisis overreaction better a decade ago:

http://nypress.com/the-best-things-about-being-a-middle-aged-guy-in-new-york/
posted by Calloused_Foot at 1:02 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


How all these people ended up in Brooklyn... is beyond me.

Well, when you're paying your dealer cab fare to the UES because he's (rightfully) afraid to take the train while carrying, you may as well move down to where he can just walk on by.

If the mountain won't come to Muhammad...
posted by griphus at 1:04 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's like Joan Didion and Hunter S. Thompson had a daughter.

In the sense that Bizarro is like Superman, yes.
posted by The Bellman at 1:06 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Now this is my kinda new yorker
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:07 PM on July 13, 2012


I don't doubt that these people exist but I get the feeling that Amy Sohn was the kind of kid who used to have two sips of beer at a party and spend the rest of the night going around exclaiming "I'M SO DRUNK" to anybody who would listen

I had friends in common with Amy years ago; theodolite pretty well nailed it. She drank and flirted a lot but she was no Cat Marnell.
posted by Now I'm Prune Tracy! at 1:07 PM on July 13, 2012


My new novel, Motherland, is about five New York City parents who act out mid-life through adultery, marijuana or Grindr.

I admit I stopped there. I was sorta interested in it up to there, but now the whole thing seems sorta fake.

There's also something about that article that makes me wonder if Sohn exists when no one is watching her, when she's not performing.

Exactly. I don't give two shits about authenticity, but it *feels* like she's lying. Even if you are, don't make it feel that way.

You would think people with multiple children would be responsible about contraception because they understand the financial and emotional toll of childrearing. Instead they are as clueless and blasé as teens, teens who really don’t know any better.

That's why my advice for dads is the same as my advice for teenagers:

ALWAYS WEAR A CONDOM.

If a twentysomething guy on “Girls” can’t be bothered to use rubbers, why would a forty-year-old monogamous dad?

Simple. It's fairly trivial for the 20-something guy to skip out or deflect responsibility. Not so easy for dad.

What other drugs do Regressives choose? Nineties drugs like pot and cocaine. Plus benzos—Xanax and Ativan—which our doctors prescribe for the sleep disorders we all suffer from post-parenthood.

I'm curious what the hip drugs of the oughts and teens are? If you say "90s drug" to me, I think E.

Anyway, there is lots of stuff that is off here--I'm not sure I care at all about reactions to it.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:23 PM on July 13, 2012


"Because everything our children thrive on—stability, routine, lack of flux, love, well-paired parents—feels like death to those entrusted with their care."

No, I like those things. Those are, like, the good parts of being in my 30s.


Sure. But wait until your 40s ...
posted by mrgrimm at 1:23 PM on July 13, 2012


I'm so happy to be happy in my happy little bubble of happy family! I am a month away from 40 and I have great teenage kids, a funny, wise husband and a bonkers cat. I don't feel the need to do "act out" in any way except maybe read a little too much slash fic late into the night. Tonight we're going to a fair! With fireworks! Wild and crazy!
posted by Biblio at 1:34 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm curious what the hip drugs of the oughts and teens are?

Clonk, gleem, blubbers, foxy, quag.

Can you figure out which one of these drugs is real?
If so write to us at: P.O. Box 445, New York, NY 10003.
Correct answers will receive a free hit of gleem.

posted by griphus at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


If what you want in life is to drink and flirt and stay out late and do drugs and whatever, why even bother having kids in the first place.

And I'm not trying to be snarky or anything. Not everybody needs to have kids.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:39 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The good thing about being 40 and married is that you don't have to do all that stuff anymore.

I'll be the contrarian and say I miss that single life A LOT. I would love to stay up with a bunch of ne'er do wells watching the sun rise whilst tripping balls. I would give a lot for that.

Of course that sort of fun doesn't compare to how much I love my wife and kids and our family life together, but c'mon ... I do miss my old life and child-free friends. And I REALLY love my family, so I can imagine what it would feel like for someone who really didn't.

It sounds like the people chastising these fun-seekers are those who wouldn't even seek that sort of similar fun no matter their age or status, i.e. they are making moral value judgments that have nothing to do with the age or status of these people.

If these spoiled women are that miserable and out of touch with reality, what are their children going to be like?

What makes you think they are either miserable or out of touch with reality? Every person I read about in that article seemed to be having a pretty good time. In fact, the only complaint anyone might have against their behavior is that they care too much about having a good time.

I don't understand the intense negativity here.

I don't either. But I suppose it's as irrational and unexplainable as this comment:

"it's full of annoying fucked up rich people and their fucked up kids."

Based on interactions with a handful for less than a year? .... a bias is showing. I tend to think there are good people everywhere, and I haven't been proved wrong yet.

I also don't get the big deal about using marijuana. It's medicine. I am a parent and I use it several times almost every day.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:40 PM on July 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


If what you want in life is to drink and flirt and stay out late and do drugs and whatever, why even bother having kids in the first place.

Why not? What does that necessarily have to do with having kids? Let's say you have the resources to hire full-time, live-in childcare. Let's say your livelihood depends on you staying up late and doing drugs. Should you not even though you have kids?

The biggest downside (BY FAR) of parents doing illegal drugs is that the drugs are illegal. And sleep schedule, well, a LOT depends on your partner, eh?

(Alcohol and tobacco of course have MUCH bigger and much more serious downsides.)

The desire to drink and flirt and stay out late and the desire to have kids are fairly independent, other than the fact that modern life makes both at the same time difficult.

I don't see your connection.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:45 PM on July 13, 2012


Now this is my kinda new yorker

You're just saying that because you want a cheeseburger.
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:47 PM on July 13, 2012


Ha, foxy is a real drug. I read about it on Reddit.

All the young people I know (in their 20s) use oxycontin, xanax or adderall. There are also "research chemicals" like foxy and bath salts. Cocaine is also very widespread in New York, it is not uncommon to find white powder on just about every surface of a bar bathroom. People don't even consider pot a drug anymore. People who won't even let me smoke cigarettes in their apartment will suddenly produce a vaporizer and start going on and on about what strain that got that morning.

Our parent's generation and their parent's would have a mess of kids, throw dinner parties and get absolutely smashed. I don't think anyone thought that once you had kids your life ended.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:50 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


I actually went to college with Amy Sohn, but didn't know her well, because she was mainly in the theater crowd. She was once a child actress (commercials, mostly IIRC), and I once saw her appear briefly on an episode of Law & Order, but her major postcollegiate gig was writing a sex column for the New York Press. Later, she writes this novel, Run Catch Kiss, which is (surprise! surprise!) about a woman who is an ex-child actress who ends up writing a sex column and having these sexual adventures. She was overshadowed a great deal by Candace Bushnell and the Sex & the City phenomenon, but Sohn was waaaaay more autobiographical in her writing than Bushnell. Think of a woman trying to be Carrie and Samantha at the same time, and I think that's what Amy Sohn is going for in her writing.
posted by jonp72 at 1:52 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's funny, I kept reading waiting for something deserving of all the excitement the article has seemed to cause and by the end I just thought "well? is that it? and?". The tone is annoying and the circle of people in the story sound like annoying types of people, but what is it they're doing that's so peculiar, awful or out of the ordinary for women and men their age? Going out drinking, gossiping, going to parties, confessing to cheating, taking a few drugs now and then, at parties a line of coke may pop up announced, and some of the men smoke pot every day. Wow! Unheard of, especially among humans older than 25...

The other funny thing is, this made me think of all the films and tv series and soap operas from Britain where people are often doing those same things, even past their thirties and even if they have kids, shockingly enough, but because it's working class people they just do it, that's the way people have fun, and they don't go round making a big deal out of it because everyone does it.

(And then a voice popped up in my head singing, "... and dance and drink and screw because there's nothing left to do oohh oohhh")

But yeah seriously I'd be curiious to read about what the common people in New York get up to, if there is such a thing out there? or does simply no one write about them or no one who does gets noticed enough by the hip magazines and blogs?
posted by bitteschoen at 1:54 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


The only part I had Moral Objections to was the stuff about cheating and infidelity. And I'm sorry, she can dress it up in her "oooh look at us bad mommies" language, but that doesn't make betrayal new or cool.

Is the behavior really amoral? No. Does it cross a line? Rarely.

I think the word she was looking for is "immoral" and I would argue that yes, some of it is.
posted by Afroblanco at 1:56 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know I'm awful for saying this, but I can't resist the Internet's lure of anonymity: bourgeois breeders (and all their pricey accoutrements) are fucking up my neighborhood, and many others in Brooklyn too methinks.

I'm not a hipster btw, but you might think I played one on TV.

Carry on.
posted by nowhere man at 1:57 PM on July 13, 2012


All the young people I know (in their 20s) use oxycontin, xanax or adderall.

This reminds me of Cat Marnell. I was reading all about her "oooh, I'm such an unrepentant drug addict" schtick and then she mentioned that her favorite drug was Adderall.

Ahem. I guess you can abuse it, I'm just saying that you can't really portray yourself a a Sid-Vicious-esque fiend when your habit is shared by schoolboys.

Something about doing prescription drugs recreationally always seemed pretty pathetic to me. I'm reminded of a kid in high school who, confronted with a parent-free evening and no access to real street drugs, downed a bunch of Gramps' nitroglycerin hoping to get high. Yes, I understand that prescription drug abuse is A Thing, but it doesn't impress.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 1:58 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


But yeah seriously I'd be curiious to read about what the common people in New York get up to...

Uh, basically exactly what she talks about, just toned down a few notches. There are parties, there are bars, there is stuff to do, and everyday people do these things and sometimes they get hammered and sometimes they do drugs and sometimes they do not. Some people stop entirely when they start a family, some don't, most just calm down about it.
posted by griphus at 1:59 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of Cat Marnell. I was reading all about her "oooh, I'm such an unrepentant drug addict" schtick and then she mentioned that her favorite drug was Adderall.

Ahem. I guess you can abuse it, I'm just saying that you can't really portray yourself a a Sid-Vicious-esque fiend when your habit is shared by schoolboys.


Make no mistake, Adderall is speed. It is a hard drug, and it can fuck you up just as much as meth. The crazy thing isn't that addicts take it. The crazy thing is that our society hands it out to kids like candy.
posted by dortmunder at 2:05 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am over forty, have a todler, a sexless marraige and wish i could afford Cocaine. Maybe I should start my writing career?
posted by pistolswing at 2:09 PM on July 13, 2012


The good thing about being 40 and married is that you don't have to do all that stuff anymore.

I'm in my late 30s, married (but childless), with a social circle that is mostly made up of the same, and we kinda like "all that stuff". Weekends are for drinking, smoking pot, playing video games, going out flirting and dancing.. my husband and I joke that being in your late 30s is like being in your 20s but more awesome because you have more money and higher standards. And honestly, I'm not sure we're really different than a lot of people now or in the past.

Mind you, I'm not writing smug articles about it to The Awl, so there's that.
posted by jess at 2:10 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


I take Adderall. At the prescribed doses it's really nothing like a recreational drug. It helps me focus a little bit, that's all. I suppose you could eat fistfuls of it, but who's filling those prescriptions? When the state tracks how many decongestants I can buy in a month? I think it's mainly a case of middle-class people trying to make their lives sounds more exciting than they are.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:11 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Adderall is speed. It is a hard drug, and it can fuck you up just as much as meth.

No, it can't. Adderal is a pill manufactured by the Shire corporation, the production of which is overseen by numerous agencies. Crystal meth is a black box, the qualities of which depend on how it's made and what goes in it. They're both forms of amphetamine and have similar effects, but there's a world of difference between the two. A person can become addicted and/or dependent on/to both of them, but the gulf between the two is rather wide.
posted by griphus at 2:16 PM on July 13, 2012 [11 favorites]


Er, by "it can't" I mean that there's a wide, wide range of symptoms of crystal meth addiction that you will never see in a person with Adderal, or even Desoxyn (which is just medical-grade methamphetamine) addiction.
posted by griphus at 2:17 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


There are parties, there are bars, there is stuff to do, and everyday people do these things and sometimes they get hammered and sometimes they do drugs and sometimes they do not. Some people stop entirely when they start a family, some don't, most just calm down about it.

See, that sounds like life in any big city! but when it's about New York these days it seems in novels and tv and film it's only the hip and wealthier and intellectual or artistic people getting up to some mild debauchery at the weekend, and it sounds so much more self-conscious than if it wasn't so restricted in specific social circles. I guess Brits love urban social realism in fiction/storytelling a lot more than Americans but it'd be nice to get some of that too, like, for balance...
posted by bitteschoen at 2:20 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, it can't. Adderal is a pill manufactured by the Shire corporation, the production of which is overseen by numerous agencies. Crystal meth is a black box, the qualities of which depend on how it's made and what goes in it. They're both forms of amphetamine and have similar effects, but there's a world of difference between the two. A person can become addicted and/or dependent on/to both of them, but the gulf between the two is rather
wide.


As a former user of both, I disagree. The difference is basically just a matter of degree. It's hard to know exactly what a dose of meth is because it's a street drug, but the qualitative effects of meth vs. the mixture of amphetamine salts in adderall is the same, although the prescription stuff is cleaner. Both of them will turn you into a shaking, hallucinating, paranoid wreck if you let them. The gulf between prescription pills and street drugs isn't as wide as people would like to think.
posted by dortmunder at 2:24 PM on July 13, 2012 [2 favorites]


Both of them will turn you into a shaking, hallucinating, paranoid wreck if you let them.

Amphetamine psychosis is amphetamine psychosis, but (as you well know) a meth habit carries a number of physical, social and legal repercussions that Adderal abuse does not. By "symptoms" I don't just mean medical ones.
posted by griphus at 2:30 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


"I'll be the contrarian and say I miss that single life A LOT. I would love to stay up with a bunch of ne'er do wells watching the sun rise whilst tripping balls. I would give a lot for that. ... It sounds like the people chastising these fun-seekers are those who wouldn't even seek that sort of similar fun no matter their age or status, i.e. they are making moral value judgments that have nothing to do with the age or status of these people."

I went through my teens and much of my 20s with people saying, "Why aren't you any FUN?" because I didn't want to go out and get drunk and party because that just isn't my thing. And a lot of other non-partiers get the same thing. And it's really constant. I'm pretty self-confident so while it sometimes annoyed me, it didn't undermine my sense of self or make me feel socially isolated (which it does for many people), but I gotta tell you, it was a relief to be 30 and married and suddenly the things I think are fun are the socially acceptable ways to have fun. I love and treasure my crazy-ass party-hearty friends, and I'm happy to live vicariously through their stories or have dinner and a couple drinks with them at the end of my day before they go out to start their night, but it was never for me and it's a relief not to have this incredible social pressure to party or be considered a social dud.

Anyway, I think a lot of the judgmental stuff come from people who really suffered in their teens and 20s from being told they weren't fun, weren't cool, had no social life; or who tried to fit in to that social life and hated it. And I know that people who choose to continue living a footloose life as their friends move on to marriage and parenthood suffer an unfortunate amount of social opprobium, as the arrow swings precisely in the opposite way.

It'd be better if our social standards for young people didn't involve quite so much pressure to drink and party, and better if our social standards for full-grown adults allowed a little more leeway.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:29 PM on July 13, 2012 [6 favorites]


Class war? Class war.

Park Slope, Carroll Gardens, Cabernet, breast reduction, Brooklyn Inn, Boerum Hill, SUV, gin and tonics, coke, price-inflated townhouses. Wine o' clock, mimosa, brunch, marijuana, Fifty Shades of Grey, Los Feliz, Montclair, Rye, sling, Housing Works. Pot, Wellbutrin, French, brownstone Brooklyn, ex-pats, Fort Greene, Grüner, Park Slope Food Coop, baby bok choi. Cocaine, benzos, Xanax, Ativan, Cobble Hill, Seven Samurai. Roof deck, heat lamps, Williamsburg, champagne, mojitos, public versus private, summer camp, Amis, Fonseca, architect, complete with bartender, perk. Empty cabs, Smith Street, rich people, Milady's, Thompson Street, Bright Lights Big City, co-sleeping. I'm not smoking weed on the street this ZIP code.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:55 PM on July 13, 2012 [8 favorites]


My God these people really exist.
posted by bardic at 6:02 PM on July 13, 2012


I know plenty of people a few years from being like this. I thought this article was kind of funny and pretty accurate of the life for a certain set. Yes, it's well-off people in NYC who haven't quite grown up internally but still bear the external trappings of grown up people. I'm glad these moms allow themselves to be a little messy a few nights a month (and my guess on the exaggeration is that most of them probably aren't more than a little messy most nights). God knows dads in new york have been getting a little messy a few nights a month for so long it's not even worth writing about.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:20 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


But yeah seriously I'd be curiious to read about what the common people in New York get up to

What Griphus said: it's six of one, and half a dozen of the other, but one of the beers isn't a microbrew.

Initially, I had typed up a long reply, laying out the drinking habits of my parents and my cousins, but suffice to say that yeah, there are 40-year-old working-class parents in NYC bars at right this very minute, the difference being that not many people care. And by people, I mean editors, many of whom haven't set foot such a bar in their entire lives, and aren't particularly interested in the fact that they exist.

There are also 40-year-old parents who have long since turned in for the night, and 40-year-old parents who are nodding off in a shooting gallery; either is far more foreign and interesting to me than Sohn's preferred stereotype. Then again, I've kind of hated her ever since, many years ago, I was tasked with fact-checking her sex column.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 7:30 PM on July 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


Then again, I've kind of hated her ever since, many years ago, I was tasked with fact-checking her sex column.

* Pulls up chair, pours drink, sits down * Go on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:35 PM on July 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Actually, scratch that? The dates don't work. But for some reason, I do remember having to work on first-person stuff from her while Strausbaugh was still at the helm of the Press. I also remember articles by Alan Cabal that I can't find on the innernet. At the least, I am wrong about the column part, and at the worst, I am losing my damn mind.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 8:02 PM on July 13, 2012


People who won't even let me smoke cigarettes in their apartment will suddenly produce a vaporizer and start going on and on about what strain that got that morning.

Many pot smokers that happen to smoke cigarettes (and uh, many of those who don't) see quite a distinction between the two, where tobacco smokes definitely seems to linger and attach itself everywhere far more noticeably than cannabis smoke, leaving a smell for days that is easily detected by a lot of non-smokers (some more sensitive than others).

This can be certainly be due to bias but I think it's way more difficult to obscure the smell of accumulated tobacco smoke such as in the case of a homeowner selling their home while I've never observed such a thing with pot, so long as it's sealed up in a container, since the raw product is stanky enough before it gets burned these days. Smoking one or two tobacco cigs can stink up an indoor living area for a few days, IME. I let my dad smoke a couple of cigs in my basement, on one occasion in six years of living here, while I was a cig smoker at the time who avoided doing it indoors to clumsily pretend to hide it from my wife and respect our new propertah. I noticed the smell for many days and I didn't hear the end of it from my spouse, whereas it might take 4-24 hours to clear up the smell of pot (far less if one is extra careful in a MacGuyver sort of way).

When it comes to vapor / vaporizers all bets are off. Hookah / shisha vapor produced by tobacco + fruit + glycerine under hot coals will not stink up a basement like burning tobacco smoke will; e-cigarette vapor (which often contains glycerine as well, and typically a decent amount of nicotine and flavoring agents) and cannabis vapor all dissipate quickly, with cannabis definitely taking the longest to clear up, I've heard -- but none of these seem to leave much if any smell behind the next day.
posted by lordaych at 10:46 PM on July 13, 2012


The difference between typical amphetamine / amphetamine salt medications like Adderal and methamphetamine (Dosoxyn) is pretty similar to the difference between morphine and heroin. Which is to say, they are nearly identical in every way to their "street drug" counterparts, and they can both be abused and the withdrawal process is essentially identical, but there's a distinction worth mentioning, which also explains why the "street drug molecules" were chosen for "street drug" production, where ease of production and maximum potency must find a comfortable middle ground.

As Wikipedia puts it:
The methyl group is responsible for the potentiation of effects as compared to the related compound amphetamine, rendering the substance more lipid-soluble, enhancing transport across the blood–brain barrier, and more stable against enzymatic degradation by monoamine oxidase (MAO).
I will avoid blockquoting the heroin article but fat-solubility comes into play there too. And then with meth there's the inclination to take it through more intense routes of administration than one would typically expect with Adderal / dextroamphetamine. The illegality does really ultimately drive the "danger factor" with meth more than anything else but due to its potency, the "legit" meth pill Desoxyn is only in very rare cases used to treat ADHD, in patients that are resistant to regular amphetamines. Now that it's been established that meth is somewhat more extreme, there isn't a whole lot of Desoxyn getting prescribed to the inattentive.

Heroin was originally intended to treat morphine addiction but ended up being more potent; whoops. Heroin and morphine are extremely addictive and do the exact same thing in the body as they are metabolized, but there's still an interesting distinction that underlies some of the framing on the issue (morphine - medicine, heroin - bad!). I think it's important to be aware that prescription drugs aren't magically safer and better to abuse, but it's disheartening to read stories (or watch shoes) about countless teens in say, Indiana, developing addictions to injected heroin after starting off on Oxycontin and finding heroin to be much more affordable and accessible in the long term. No, we should not hand out Oxycontin like condoms but there's always a teensy bit more "legitimacy" with the prescription drugs (aka privilege) that seems more likely to land the addict in somewhat comforting arms with treatment options, while the person who can't afford to keep paying $100 a pill ends up shooting up and landing in jail.
posted by lordaych at 11:27 PM on July 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ugh. I do not like this in any way. Rich people who think the fact that they are rich and occasionally do drugs/drink/have sex despite having jobs and families is INHERENTLY FASCINATING.
posted by miss tea at 3:22 AM on July 14, 2012


Why do moms in my generation regress, whether by drugging, cheating, or going out too late and too often?
Sounds like Ms. Sohn should read Sex At Dawn
posted by eustacescrubb at 11:20 AM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think the problem for the folks in Sohn's article is that they've passed through all the conventional milestones--career, kids, abode--and can't think what next. So the obvious thing to do is go backwards--parties, pot, and puking--until they can think of something better to do.

I'm sure this has always happened to a subset of the community with a little bit of money, but earlier eras possibly (?) made it easier to hide. Certainly, people have always had affairs, and just as surely there's always been alcohol. Maybe the big difference between THEN, say, 50 years ago or more, and NOW, is dirty little secrets were treated with more decorum, and tact and discretion were considered greater virtues?

I mean, isn't that what's so off-putting about Sohn's article? The very basic existential questions a lot of these people are dealing with (What do I do now? What am I here for? What does it all mean?) are interesting. But they're covering them up with a lot of noisy humblebrag and all the technique of your average sixteen-year-old.

So we the readers, guided by Sohn, gawk and point. And nobody talks about what's really happening.
posted by Violet Blue at 11:11 PM on July 14, 2012


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