March 12, 2006

Bitch about your husband in the NYT.

Go ahead! It will amuse us all so.
"Adam. Why didn't you buy [the sausages] at Esposito's?"

"Because I was in the cheese store buying the bread, and they had these, so I thought I'd try them."

"Are they the fennel ones?"

"No. They didn't have the fennel ones."

"Oh no."

"You know what, Cathy?" he says throwing the wooden spoon on the counter. "Do it yourself." He goes into his office to seek refuge.

I know he's right. But on the other hand he did bring home inferior sausage product. We're cooking a sausage ragout. Sausage is the main ingredient, and it's corrupted. I knock on his door and try to apologize.

"I'm sorry, honey. I should have just been thanking you. That was so nice of you to do the shopping. Really. I just don't understand how you could not go to Esposito's. It's right next door to the cheese store. When they didn't even have the fennel ones, why didn't you just think to go next door?"

He starts yelling at me. He accuses me of torturing him. He's pounding his finger into the desk to illustrate how I pretend to apologize and then continue to stick it to him.
As you might suspect, if you're onto women who write things like this, the author -- Catherine Lloyd Burns -- is ultimately out to convince us she's got the swellest husband on the planet.

And then there's all the material about how frantic she is about her baby's problems -- not sleeping enough! -- when she's really letting you know that her baby's way better than yours: Olive -- yeah, they called her Olive -- is marvelously perky throughout the parents waking hours and then sleeps straight through for 8 hours from exactly the time the parents want to get to bed to the time they like to get up.


The Drill SGT said...

What can I say about that article and woman?

Classic middle class New York female schizophrenic?

The frightening thing is that there are people like that, in NY.

She makes her husband seem well adjusted, though after being the subject of an article like that, I'd consider divorce and custody, if only to protect my daughter.

The lady sound like the type that enroll their kids in the 'right" pre-school while pregnant.

Palladian said...

Ugh, I hate writing like that. Interesting, I never thought of this type of writing as part of a whole genre of predictable upper-middle-class urban domestic pablum (Pablum, a trademark for a soft breakfast cereal for infants! Does Olive eat organic Pablum?) The whole image of these people cooking their "Sausage ragout" and the woman writing some bland crap for the Times about her baby's sleep patterns followed by some supposedly wry yet heartwarming affirmation of her desire to stay with her incorrect sausage buying husband forever... It strengthens my resolve to move somewhere where people don't write pointless, boring expositions of their maternal neuroses and encased-meat preferences in the New York Times. Brooklyn is full of them (well, at least the parts of Brooklyn where Cathy and darling Olive would deign to live). The starting point of writing (especially autobiographical writing) is that people don't care about you or your life. You have to make them care, and make them want to care, through the strength of your writing. This piece does not succeed, though it does offer the positively cathartic opportunity to bitch about its shortcomings.

Ann Althouse said...

Palladian: I think there is a big market for writing like this.

Jen Bradford said...

I gave myself permission to dislike her when she wrote this:

"Forget it. I'm fussy about food, and if that is the price the world has to pay for me getting over an eating disorder 20 years ago, then so be it."

She's not an annoying harpie, she's a brave woman in recovery who happens to have this one unfortunate battle scar. Please.

Richard Fagin said...

It's right here, somewhere, in the Texas Penal Code, Ch. 9, "Jusifications Excluding Criminal Responsibility", I just know it..."The b**** needed killin.'"

Dang it, where is that statute?

Palladian said...

Ann: That's scary. I guess I don't read those magazines.

Ann Althouse said...

I once had a job of reading magazines, including all the women's magazines and fashion magazines. But that was decades ago. But I still notice what the writing is, even though I won't read it. I see the memoirs that come out. I know about the mommy blogs. I guess this is another example of me "reviewing" things I haven't actually read/seen/experienced.

The Drill SGT said...

Me thinks Ann intends to take us through the entire Sunday NYT today.

Pogo said...

In webspace, no one can hear you scream.

1. She is a bully; a neurotic, whining, ungrateful bully.

2. Her pediatrician is an idiot, or hasn't had kids, or both. There is a wide range of sleeping behavior in infancy, around which the total-hour figure he cites is the average. He probably failed statistics; that's my guess.
Define standard deviation.
Catherine Burns' doctor: Huh?

3. My first child had the exact same sleeping pattern. She inherited it from me, of course. My mother never forgave me for not napping, and the curse lives on. Woe to my daughter.

4. Most clueless statement: "At night I will sleep like a baby because I am a man." Well, I never lost sleep because of kids, their illnesses, their depression, their fights with boyfriends, their wanton ignorance of safety. Nope, not me. Slept right though it.

Can women be wankers?

Ann Althouse said...

Pogo: I just quite simply didn't believe that her doctor said those things.

Palladian said...

Yes, sounds like "truthiness".

Maybe the whole thing is made up. There is no Olive. There are no fennel sausages. There is no carefree husband. Cathy could be a man.

Pogo said...

Ann, that never even occurred to me. She may just possibly have developed an imagined conversation for this scene, including the moronic advice "You have to get her to nap." (-it's impossible to coerce sleep-) based solely on a statement about the average.

Her pediatrician may be reading this just when you are and saying out loud WTF?!

The NYT: Our columnists are chock full of Truthiness.

Joan said...

This piece was vomitious. (That's a word, isn't it?)

I shudder to think that Ann is right, that there is a big market for pieces like this. Perhaps there used to be, but courtesy of my Mom, I've had a good supply of women's magazines around my house the past few months, and I've yet to read anything as insipid, trite, and appalling piece as this. This woman is trotting out stuff that was old in the 1980's: men don't care, they have a perfect life, they need women to run things the way they should be run. Yuck! Who is this woman's editor, that she is allowed to foist this stuff upon the public? And who in the NYT decided to run this little gem? All of them need the boot!

What's sad is that there are so many women out there like this:
I think everyone will see things my way if I just explain them properly.
I know, because I used to be one, until I finally figured out that the only person I can control is myself, and that there are very few events in my life that I can order just-so. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure it out, and the last thing I would do is try to glorify my control-freakishness. I've written about it, but only to apologize! And as a general warning to others: Don't be like me! I was insufferable.

The most horrid thing is, this author realizes she is insufferable, she just doesn't care.

vbspurs said...


I use "vomitrocious", after Muffy in Arthur and Friends on PBS (what?).

Please please God, don't make me turn out like this woman. Thank you.

And oh, Ann, Olive not to mention Olivia are this generation's Jennifer and Michelle.

Not to mention, Makayla, Amber, Paris...etc. etc. etc.


Finn Kristiansen said...

Ann Althouse said...
Palladian: I think there is a big market for writing like this.

I think there is too. For some reason, my sister (who when she reads at all, reads religious stuff likeThe Purpose Drive Life) sent me The Bitch In the House, a book of essays where, "26 women tell the truth about sex, solitude, work, motherhood, and marriage".

The book, edited by Cathi Hanaur, is filled with essays by women who seem to be somewhat self absorbed and totally out of touch, if not downright annoying in their assumptions. Comfortable women, upper middle class, and clueless as to the luxury of their lives.

Despite that, the book was interesting reading, with some insights.

Ann Althouse said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ann Althouse said...

Victoria: "And oh, Ann, Olive not to mention Olivia are this generation's Jennifer and Michelle."

And I picture every girl that gets stuck with Olive crying and saying "Couldn't you have at least made it Olivia?" I mean, people, really, Olive is ridiculous. She'll be teased and called "Olive Oyl" and people will be forever saying things like "Do you have brothers named Twist and Cocktail Onion?" People will make dirty jokes about pimento at her expense. Don't do it, people! It might seem like a good idea when you're high on post-C-section opiates. But it's really not!

Jen Bradford said...

"Olive, play nicely with Apple!"

Oh dear.

TW Andrews said...

Wow. What a wack-job of a woman. Any guy who's married to someone like that and doesn't leave her deserves a medal, or is totally crazy.

I know that it takes all kinds, but I am *so* glad that my wife doesn't spontaneously go crazy.

Ann Althouse said...

I think there's way too much antagonism toward the author. She's not crazy, and any meanness toward the husband is totally exaggerated for comic effect. My criticism of her isn't that she's a psycho control freak -- I don't think she is -- it's that underneath it all she is really bragging about how wonderful her husband and child are. I find that insipid.

Verification word: fkuepwm. Well, I understand the first half.

Simon Kenton said...

Palladian, when you touch off a great comment like this, I visualize the electrons lining up and saying, "Take me! Take me!"

I read this and I think of the women I work with in the fire department. Working a fire line, swinging a pulaski or a mccloud; cutting through the C pillars of a wrecked car with an extrication tool; riding in an ambulance with a deranged and strait-jacketed woman, stroking her hair and calming her; and in reference to this writerette I think of a line from Milton: "Many a man lives a burden to the earth...." How does this woman presume to eat?

vbspurs said...

She'll be teased and called "Olive Oyl"

That's the one I think about every time I hear that name...

and people will be forever saying things like "Do you have brothers named Twist and Cocktail Onion?"

Well, in college, yes.

In High school she'll get "Extra Virgin" thrown at her every time she moves.

It might seem like a good idea when you're high on post-C-section opiates. But it's really not!

That's what I said about Harriet Miers.

Who, post 1950, would name their kid Harriet? Dayyyum.


jinnmabe said...

Reminds me of the When Harry Met Sally scene where he tells her that she's high maintenance, and she says, "well, I just want things the way that I want them" and he says, "I know. High-maintenance."

I see your point Ann, about the insipidness of the bragging, but I also agree with the other commenters. The way she "masks" the bragging is so clueless and self-absorbed. But hey, I'm not much of a sausage fan, maybe that's it.

tcd said...

This lady is either lying or completely clueless. The baby sleeps in between them? I'm not a parent and even I know that more than one baby has been accidentally suffocated while sleeping in the same bed with an adult. Clueless!

jeff said...

She sounds like a first time parent.

A high maintenance first time parent.

The kid sounds refreshingly low maint. - hopefully mom won't screw her up too badly.

Barry said...

tcd said...
This lady is either lying or completely clueless. The baby sleeps in between them? I'm not a parent and even I know that more than one baby has been accidentally suffocated while sleeping in the same bed with an adult. Clueless!

This is part of the entire _Attachment Parenting_ thing that's being promoted in the recent decade (if not longer). The American Pediatrics Association does not recommend having the child sleep in the parents' bed because of suffocation risk, but there are a good percentage of families out there doing it this way. Apparently it works for some, but I think I'd be too nervous to sleep.

About the author: I don't think she's unusually vain or arrogant. Where some of you seem to see a person who doesn't care about her faults, I think this is someone who does care about her faults and is using her writing to share them with us and lead us to the same places of discovery that she has found.

I'm not sure by what's shown here that she comes to a conclusion I'd agree with, however. If she wants me to like her and love her family, I doubt I'd do either. In this piece, both she and her husband are obnoxious (not to mention her doctor).

I'm put-off immediately by her thinking that her husband's care-free (or careless?) attitude is because he's a man. This goes perfectly with the gender issues Prof Althouse is often raising here. There's a serious disconnect between this woman and her husband if she thinks all his foibles can be summed up by his gender.

The end of the article is rather abrupt. It seems to jump to a conclusion that I wasn't expecting from the preceeding exposition, but I suspect that's because of editing since this is "adapted from her memoir". But I get where she's going. And, yes, in a sense it's self-centered. But no more than many other autobiographical writers. (Or bloggers. ;) )

I'm sure she'll find a readership among many in a similar situation. But I've read enough to know that I would find little connection or insight by reading further.

paul a'barge said...

"there are people like that, in NY"

Dude, you need to get down to Texas .... we're crawling with them, just like in NY!

It ain't regional, belive me.

Ian Best said...

From Elmore Leonard, via Madisonian Theory blog:

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. ... It’s my attempt to remain invisible, not distract the reader from the story with obvious writing. (Joseph Conrad said something about words getting in the way of what you want to say.)