Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Kate Tyler Moore

I would have been a really good soccer mom; I would have made soccer ball shaped cookies for bake sales and ornate season scrapbooks. I was offered a job in the small Michigan town I interned in a few summers ago and I knew I would have a wonderful quiet life. Until the day I left my family to live in New York.

It was bound to happen sooner or later. According to family lore, I turned to my mom when I was 4 and announced my plans to live in Manhattan. And so I did, a scant 20 years later, I packed up a rental car and drove through the night. I kissed my family goodbye, gave up my then-boyfriend, missed my graduation to live in an apartment I'd never laid eyes on with a roommate I'd never met. I had tucked in my pocket the New York state quarter I'd had propped at my work computer monitor for inspiration.

I knew I wanted to work at a magazine. Magazines are a contact-based business. I knew a single person who worked at one. I'd met her once. I'm wasn't a math major, but those aren't good odds.

The trip was smooth for the first 12 hours of driving, until somewhere across the George Washington Bridge when all hell broke loose, I missed an exit and wound up 13 miles into New Jersey. Ten minutes later, I got a flat tire. Cut to me crying on the side of a major highway with a 911 operator yelling at me because I don't know where I am.

When the tow truck driver and I limp into the city, neither of us know where my unfortunately named street is located.

He comes up with the terrible approach of yelling it to random strangers on streetcorners.

"Seaman? Do you know where Seaman Ave is?" Laughter ensues. "Seaman? Seaman???" Women scoot their strollers away from the large, sweaty man in the truck who appears to have taken one shaken girl hostage already.

Despite this approach, we eventually found it and I shamelessly sweet-talked him into changing my tire while I tried to haul all my worldly possessions from my illegally parked car to my un-doormanned lobby to prepare it for its journey up five flights of stairs. I fell asleep that night, too tired too blow up my air mattress, on a thin sheet of plastic.

That was 4-24-05. On 4-24-06 I got the call to set up the interview for my new job. At a magazine.

When I tell people (and believe me, I make damn well sure to work it into as many conversations as possible) most have said some form of "you're gonna make it after all." Without ever seeing an episode of Mary Tyler Moore, I fantasized about the day I'd get to throw my beret in the air. The only thing that ruins like song for me is that bank commercial with Roxy, the spunky little gal getting her first paycheck.

Roxy will not hack it in the big city for the following reasons:

1. She gets her paycheck and runs - literally runs - out of the office, rubbing it in her coworkers' faces. Nobody likes a braggart, Roxy. Also, they all get paid too. Probably more than you.

2. She buys a puppy. These things are money-suckers. You've got to budget for food, vet bills, horrible little sweaters and rain boots so he can be like his idol, Tinkerbelle.

3. You take all your friends' cash at the restaurant and pay with your debit card, which is fine, but you look like you're giving them a lesson in fiscal responsibility when you wave the card at them like that. Again with the waving things at people. Plus, I'd put money on them all having debit cards too. They're not really a novelty at this point.

4. Your boyfriend is about to break up with you. You're kissing outside the movie and you stop to take the text message from your bank?!?!? Guys tend to frown on that. He looks pissed. He didn't look all that excited about getting Mr. Woofers either.

So my hopes are high that I'll be slighly more responsible than Roxy, but there are no guarantees.

I would have been a great soccer mom though.